Lunchtime in Stockton

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.

10 thoughts on “Lunchtime in Stockton

  1. The woman on the right used to live next door to us when I lived on Thornaby Green, with my parents, in the Seventies. I showed the photo to her daughter about 5 years ago and she told me that they worked at Pumphrey’s sugar factory in Thornaby.


  2. Thirwell’s shop was in Silver Street. I have a vague recollection however of another Photographer in Bridge Road at one time



  3. The Girls from the CWS Jam Factory in Tower Street possibly on their way to work after getting off a bus. Another clue is the Middlesbrough Low Liner bus for going under Albert Bridge in Middlesbrough, due to a shortage of transport at the back end of the war Middlesbrough ran a couple on the “0” run. We hated them as the gangway upstairs was on the right side and you slid into the seats for four, hard luck if you were first out but in the window seat. Downstairs you had to bend your head as the upstairs gangway protruded often producing some ripe language when contact was made.
    The CWS jam factory ran until well after the war when they moved to a new factory on Yarm Road, us young lads took a lot of stick from them sitting outside the factory during breaks, the reverse of what women complain about today, we took it as to them fun and we were good runners, if it upset you then go down Wharf or Moat Streets. We suffered a lot of that hazing where the girls worked in gangs during the war and after. Those working girls earning good money were a very confident lot, in the Dance Halls they would ask you to dance without a blush and I for one never refused


  4. A great photo with a wonderfully informative commentary from yourself. The bus in the background looks like a wartime Daimler utility bus. These buses were made to cheaper standards during WW2 and didn’t stay in service for much longer than that. They were either re-bodied or sold on.


  5. Great photo Bruce and well documented, it would be interesting to know where the ladies worked and as you mentioned on their Dinner break. Breakfast, Dinner, Tea and Supper no such thing as Lunch when I grew up.
    Regards Chris


    • I’d Guess that those ladies worked at the Co-op Jam Factory in Tower Street. Maybe bought their sandwiches from the cafe in the Empire arcade


      • In the early 60’s I worked in Robsons Motor Cycles which would be one of the premises these ladies are passing. A view of it here
        Prior to Robsons it was Stan Jones’ Garage and had an old fashioned petrol pump mounted over the main entrance – you can see it in the picture from the 60’s – seems to be missing from the older print. Racking my brains to remember the adjoining premises… Mrs. Eastwoods Paper shop and tobacconist to the north….and was it a fruit and veg shop to the south?


    • At that time just around the corner on Bridge road was the CO OP jam factory and they were probably heading back there this photo has been around for a number of years and has featured on lots of different sites so I am surprised you have not seen it before Bruce I think that all of the young ladies display a style and confidence that I have long admired from the moment I saw this photo many years ago I know that the jam factory had its own canteen so the ladies have probably had a trip into the high street and bought a snack from the many Pubs and Cafes that were around at that time in an era that I grew up in and I also know that factory girls were never short of confidence and you can tell that from the confident way they carry themselves


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