This shot is a recent addition to my collection, I consider it to be a superb image. When I received the picture the caption read “Stockton Lunchtime”, there was no further information.
I use visual clues to try to date photos and I think this is probably the 1940s, the hairstyles and clothing are from that period, it may even be in the war years, nobody is carrying a gas mask box so it will likely be the latter part of the war, say 1943/44, of course it could be later, even into the 1950s, but I think the earlier date is the most likely. It looks as if the women are returning to work after buying their lunch from the then equivalent of the modern day Greggs. The women at front left appears to be wearing an overall under her coat which may indicate the type of work she is doing. These women could well be Mothers, Grandmothers or Great Grandmothers of people still living in the Stockton area. The two women at the front of the group have spotted the photographer, the woman to the right is smiling into the camera, the woman to the left is looking away from the camera.
I have been taking photos for more than 60 years and recognise the signs of the woman on the right having a confident and outgoing personality and the woman on the left being more shy and introverted, the latter type are always more difficult to photograph, I know because I belong to the same group. On the right is a shop window that appears to have some framed portrait photographs on display, I was wondering if this may be Thirlwell’s, the photographers that have documented Stockton over many years. The location is readily recognised, the Empire theatre in the background with the High Street behind show it to be Bridge Road.I have used the word “Lunch” because it is captioned so, but, being a Billingham lad I have always called the mid day meal “Dinner”.
Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.