A locomotion in Spring Street

Recently there has been something of a commotion over Locomotion No1 and the plans by the National Railway Museum to move it from the Head Of Steam Museum in Darlington to their own collection at Shildon, named no less – Locomotion! With the bi-centenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway less than 5 years away I’m sure we can expect more letting off of steam over this in the coming weeks!

I suspect that very few people know that we have our very own Locomotion No1, albeit, a very impressive artwork in Spring Street off Yarm Road? The sculpture was designed by artist Andrew McKeown who has completed many large sculptures and artworks within the Tees Valley and all with a theme of growth, change and renewal often combined with historic references as here were the old terrace housing alongside the railway track was demolished to make way for a new modern development. This was the first time that I had seen the sculpture without any obstructions in front of it and thought it too good to miss.

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.

The Globe: Hard Hat Heritage Tour, 30 November 2018

I was lucky enough to go on a ‘Behind The Scenes Tour’ of The Globe , it’s now official name but a shame to drop the ‘Theatre’ part , back in June as reported here on ‘Picture Stockton’ and I was back again in November on a ‘Hard Hat Heritage Tour’ with tales of the ABC Minors and weekly birthdays! Outwardly and to the untrained eye not a lot seems to have happened since June although this time we did visit the old bar area sadly devoid of alcohol and indeed also devoid of its fixtures and fittings. However while in the bar those immortal words ‘Dorman Long’ could be seen on the steel joist helping to keep the building up, indeed – propping the bar up !

The recent press coverage of The Globe, some good and some not so good, brought lots of questions from our group about the rebuilding work and the opening date has been put back to Spring 2020 to accommodate these works with an obvious push being given to No153 The High Street, the self-contained arts centre which will sit between The Globe and Debenhams. Any technical questions were well fielded by Chris and Steve from builders Willmott Dixon while our host Sophie from SBC took us on a magical history tour from the first Globe of 1926 to the present one which was opened in 1935 by two brothers who also ran a butchers shop on the site and who continued to trade even as the new building went up around them ! In keeping with the seasonal theme there is a display of panto costumes and memorabilia in the ‘meet and greet’ area were the tours begin, oh no there isn’t – oh yes there is, and these will eventually move into Stockton Rediscovered with another Globe exhibition due to be housed in Preston Park Museum next July to September .

Some of our group wore their ABC Minors badges with pride, they were luminous, lumi…. glowed in the dark , which was a revelation to some 50 years later having been kept in the dark about them all that time! Sneaking in through side doors was another obvious pastime during the Saturday morning clubs while others recalled Zorro and Gene Autry, Flash Gordon and being called up onto the stage to celebrate your birthday were some faces became just a bit too familiar with almost weekly birthdays! Sadly the stage is long gone, not so much demolished more like sunk were the water had leaked in over the years while The Globe had stood empty but once refurbished the main auditorium will have a capacity of 3,000 and shimmer again in its original art-deco colours of gold, green and pink .

So thanks to Sophie and her team of helpers who kitted us out in the now obligatory ‘elf and safety kit and who chipped in with memories and story-boards as we toured this theatre of former wonders one Friday afternoon in November. A big thank you to Barry, Elaine, Gloria, Jan, Steve and Tim who as volunteers all deserve our thanks for their time and dedication to the project and as ever you can keep up to date on the restoration of The Globe through its Facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/TheGlobeStockton/ and you don’t need to be a Facebook user to view it or alternatively visit Rediscover Stockton in The High Street to enquire about the 2019 tours which are booking up now.

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.

The Globe Theatre ‘Behind the scenes tour’, 29 June 2018

The Globe Theatre has been holding behind the scenes tours throughout the year and I was fortunate to ‘tread the boards’, well – very nearly anyway, during a visit in June which was lead by Sophie the designated SBC Learning Heritage Officer. After something of a stuttering start the renovation of this former 1930’s art-deco theatre is now back on track with builders Willmott Dixon taking ‘centre stage’ and driving the project through to a planned Spring 2019 opening of what is hoped will be a 3,000 seater nationally renowned live entertainment venue were the likes of The Beatles, Cliff Richard and Mike and Bernie Winters, Mike and Bernie Winters ?, all performed as well as local amateur dramatic groups and touring dance and ballet companies .

The tours begin next door in the former offices of the Cordell Group were you are kitted out in boots, hi-viz jacket and a hard hat and the now obligatory ‘elf and safety briefing before being taken into the theatre for what is a fascinating look behind the scenes with the building stripped bare to reveal it’s solid construction which remains solid to this day some 80 years later and which accounts for it’s longevity and survival when lesser building would have crumbled and been demolished. The huge stage area is very impressive and the boxes and balconies to either side still survive with some of the original paint and décor still to be seen and come the re-opening the colours and hues will be faithfully replicated wherever possible. The Globe has it’s own Facebook page were you can follow the progress of the restoration project and post your own memories and recollections of your visits to the Globe be it as a theatre, cinema or bingo hall.

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.

Heritage Open Day at Thornaby Town Hall, 2018

Having attended the recent heritage open day at Thornaby Town Hall, I though I would share some photos showing progress on the restoration.

After comparing with the Gazette images from 2017 you can see that excellent progress is being made, especially to repair the plasterwork ceiling of the main council chamber, great workmanship takes time. The shape of the plot and the central spiral staircase results in a very quirky layout inside. Thanks go to all the volunteers involved in the open day.

Photographs and details courtesy of Jonathan May.

Angel Room, Portrack Grange, Stockton c1950s

The ‘Angel Room’ which was part of the Portrack Grange cottages is believed to have been a Georgian tavern used by sea captains. The cottages stood on the bend of the River Tees before cuts were made to straighten the river. The plaster-work seen in the photographs is dated early to mid-18th century. The buildings were possibly some of the first brick buildings in Stockton (c1660s) and were apparently demolished c1959.

Thornaby Submariners final resting place discovered

t14947 t14948The final resting place of a son of Thornaby has finally been discovered 73 years after he disappeared.

Submariner Wilf Foundling Stoker 1st Class was reported missing along with 70 other crew members in January 1943 on board HMS P311 in the Mediterranean Sea. Last month the sub was finally discovered off the coast of Sardinia.

I think Wilf came from the Derby Terrace area of Thornaby, he was the son of Arthur and Jane Foundling. He is remembered on the Thornaby Cenotaph & The Chatham Naval War Memorial. Wilf was 21 when he went missing. The P311 was to have been named HMS Tutankhamen but was lost before being named. She left Malta in December 1942 carrying 2 chariots for a dangerous mission against Italian cruisers. However she was believed mined and lost in January 1943. She has been identified off Sardinia still with her external cargo chariots attached.

Wilfs niece who he taught to play “alleys” still lives in Stockton. His nephew Dave Foundling went to Richard Hind with me.

Photographs and details courtesy of Norman Hill.