Stockton and Darlington Railway ‘Preston Park’

The Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway are holding their last walk on Wednesday 3 July meeting outside the main entrance to Preston Park Museum at 6pm.

The walk will take you along the original 1825 track-bed which runs through Preston Park and will be lead by Robin Daniels of Tees Archaeology.

Again all are welcome to come along and to finish we will steam along to the Locomotion in nearby Station Road for drinks and nibbles.

Stockton and Darlington Railway ‘Yarm Branch’

The Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway are holding their second survey walk and social meeting on Wednesday 26 June, meeting at Allens West Junction at 6pm and as ever, all are welcome to come along. We will be walking along Durham Lane to The Cleveland Bay, the worlds first railway pub and it’s original name gives a clue and it will be revealed on the night !

We will be passing the original station keepers house next to Allens West and also the S&DR agents house with it’s distinctive D13 plaque still in place.

Light refreshments will be available and a model of the 1825 Yarm Depot will also be on display.

Stockton and Darlington Railway Stockton Walk

“The Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway have organised a survey/walk/social event in Stockton on Wednesday 12 June starting at 6pm from the Town Hall to try and drum up some steam or rather support for the bi-centenary of the S&DR in 2025. The walk is being organised by Friends who live in the Stockton area as this end of the line is often overshadowed by Darlington but there is still much to see which connects Stockton to the worlds first fare paying passenger railway, regardless of what other towns may claim ! We’ll depart the station known as the Town Hall at 6pm and end not too late in The Hope & Union in Silver Street.

Our guide for the walk is Stockton’s very own Time Traveller, Martin Pegam who is known for his Magical Mystery History Tours and perhaps more so for his Dr Who like scarf. Dr Who?

The walk is being supported by Steve Thompson who runs the Stockton Digital Village from his studio in the Green Dragon Yard and material gathered during the walk will be used to produce a multi-media presentation some of which may air on Radio Stockton . What, you’ve never heard of Radio Stockton? Then see or rather hear here;

Two more Friends walks are also planned for Wednesday 26 June, walking from Allens West railway station to survey the Yarm Branch followed by a social in The Cleveland Bay and secondly on Wednesday 3 July to explore the S&DR track-bed which runs through Preston Park, and not many people know that! The walks are free so please come along and support them and hopefully learn more about this historical railway line much of which still remains, if you know where to look!”

The Kirk

The mid 1960s saw the rise in popularity of nightclubs and bowling alleys, they have both nearly disappeared in the intervening years, there are still some around but not nearly as many as there were. The “Kirk” or the Kirklevington Country Club was one of a number in the Stockton area, other clubs I remember are, The Marimba and The Contessa in Middlesbrough, The La Ronde in Billingham and the best known of all The Fiesta in Norton.

These clubs offered top class entertainment, including many international acts, youngsters from this time were not overly interested in pubs and social or working men’s clubs, beer and bingo were becoming old hat, the dance halls which had been a mainstay of evening entertainment alongside the cinema, were in decline in the 1960s. The “Kirk” was one of two popular clubs in the Yarm area, the other being “Club M” at the Tall Trees Hotel, both of these sites have housing on them now.

The “Bongo Club” deserves a special mention, one of the very first in the area, I know it lost its licence a couple of years ago but I have seen reports that it is in the throes of being reopened, it may already be open. These clubs were very much a part of the industrial north, from Sheffield to Newcastle in the east and Liverpool and Manchester in the west, Batley was particularly well known nationwide.

I have no doubt there are many people who have fond memories of places such as The “Kirk” and have a story or two to tell. My only interest in these clubs is from a social history point of view, I have never been in a nightclub in my life, pubs, cinemas and theatres were part of my social whirl and, yes, I did go ten pin bowling.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

The Wolfson Research Institute, Thornaby-on-Tees

The Wolfson Research Institute is based on the University’s Queen’s Campus, at Stockton-on-Tees and began operation in November 2001. As well as helping to meet the University’s goal of furthering research activities and health education in Britain, the institute strengthens its links with the Teesside area by its strong regional support activities. There are around 150 research and research support staff along with 100 postgraduates working within the Institute, furthering its extensive research aims.

The Institute was funded by Sir Isaac Wolfson and son. Sir Isaac, a British business leader and philanthropist, was born in Glasgow in 1897, the son of Solomon and Necha Wolfson. As a young man one of his first jobs was selling picture frames his father made, another was selling alarm clocks from a market stall. By the time Queen Elizabeth bestowed his baronetcy, he had built his company, Great Universal Stores, into the largest mail-order concern in Britain. In 1955, Sir Isaac, set up the Wolfson Family Charitable Trust, one of Britain’s largest charitable donors which supports fundamental research projects, to date more than 8,000 grants totalling in excess of a £1 billion pounds have been distributed by the Wolfson family, to UK causes.

Picture credits: The Wolfson Research Institute, Thornaby, and the National Gallery, London. Details courtesy of Bob Wilson.

School trip to Whitby c1947

This BFI film shows boys from Holy Trinity School setting out on a day trip to Whitby in 1947, my eye was caught by the ‘Maison De Danse’ sign on the wall. I think it was spelled with an ‘S’ not a ‘C’. I know many people have fond memories of the Maison and it is often mentioned on the Picture Stockton site. Just behind the coach is an Uptons delivery van and in the background is the Empire Theatre and Castlegate, the street not the shopping centre.
The film can be viewed here:- Trinity School Trip to Whitby.

Overview include with the film, ‘Here’s a rare example of a woman behind the camera in the late 1940s. A teacher at the Holy Trinity Church of England Boys School in Stockton on Tees creates an affectionate portrait of the teachers and pupils – juniors enjoying a spot of rigorous landscape gardening, a toddler’s first steps, and young lads on a day trip to Whitby. The boys are pictured as a sea of scarlet school caps in the cliff-top Abbey graveyard as they sightsee around the historic Yorkshire fishing town.Norton-born Agnes Dorothea (‘Dodie’) Allan (1905 – 1996) qualified as a teacher at Neville’s Cross Training College, Durham, in 1926 and subsequently taught at Stockton’s Bailey Street School and Holy Trinity School (located in Yarm Lane when this film was made). Her surviving films consist mainly of silent 16mm home movies of holidays, friends’ weddings, and a few fictions, which drew on her experience working with school children in amateur theatre. Women’s role in inter-war cine club and independent amateur film-making was rarely credited, and was overlooked in the amateur film magazines of the day, despite being increasingly active in collaborative and individual productions’.

Information courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

Yarm Town Gas Holder c1950’s

Before we took our gas supplies from a national network each town had their own supply of ‘town gas’ of which both Stockton and Yarm did and the Yarm gasometer or holder was off West Street opposite St Marys Church. The former site has been built upon now but I seem to remember that not too long ago the land had to be cleaned and decontaminated because of possible contamination?.

Of all the local town gas gasometers only the one in Middlesbrough next to the A66 still survives but that too is due for demolition and with it goes another local landmark!.

Photograph and details courtesy of David Thompson.

Globe Theatre Programme c1944/45

A Globe Theatre programme from 1944/45 found in a shop in York.

Images courtesy of Janice Cooney

‘Sugar Loaf’ by Arthur Simpson c1920s

This is a watercolour by the Thornaby (?) artist Arthur Simpson who was capturing local scenes in the 1920s. He titled this work as “Sugar loaf ” but what he was painting is the passage which ran off the south-east corner of Thistle Green and was called called Sugarhouse Open.  This is a view from the eastern end of the passage.
The Baltic Tavern is just out of sight on the right of the scene, but next to the Tavern was a warehouse which does appear in the painting.
The wall to the left of the passage is covered in advertising posters.
This scene was also captured in the photograph which appears on Picture Stockton titled The Baltic Tavern, Stockton c1928

Details courtesy of Cliff Thornton. Image courtesy of Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd.

Norton Duck Pond and Village Pump, Early Twentieth Century

This postcard shows a child feeding ducks in the vicinity of the village pump. The pump is an interesting piece of cast ironwork, this is from a time when a simple utility item such as a pump would be made in a highly decorative form. Most village pumps were fairly plain castings or encased in a wooden box, as in Billingham. I know there was a foundry in Norton, it cast the first Big Ben bell, and wondered if they made this pump. I don’t remember ever seeing the pump, is it still there or has it gone to a museum or even been scrapped?. The postcard is a real photograph and shows a couple of people in front of the white building and another small group sitting on the bench surrounding the tree, as well as the small boy.

Image and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

Can you help?

We recently had the above set of postcards donated to the Reference Library. Two of the postcards are hand painted images of flowers, and date back to early 1900’s.

One is addressed to Master Ernest Jewitt at the Post Office on the High Street at Norton. The other is addressed to Master Harry Jewitt, also at the Post Office, and sent to him by Ethel. One other postcard is addressed to Miss Elsie Roper at 68 High Street, Norton, from Isaac Cook.

After conducting our own research we found that Harry and Ernest were the sons of George Jewitt and his wife Jane (Jennie), who in 1901 was the post mistress at the Post Office, at no. 71 Norton High Street. George was born on the in Stamfordham, in Northumberland about 1864, and at the time the 1901 Census was taken his occupation was an engineman. George married Jane Moore in 1890, in Hexham, and Matthew Henry Jewitt (Harry) was born a year later in 1891, at Norton.

George Ernest Jewitt (Ernest), was also born in Norton on the 18th January 1893, and in 1900 a sister, Annie Lilian was born there also. Ernest grew up to become an accounts chief clerk, and in 1924 married Elsie Roper, who was almost the girl next door, as she lived at 68 High Street, Norton. Ernest and Elsie had 2 children – Margaret E. Jewitt, who was born in Stockton in 1924 and George R. Jewitt, born in 1932, also in Stockton.

We would love to give the postcards to a relative of Ernest or Harry. If you think you may be related to the brothers, please contact Stockton Reference Library 01642 528079 /

Richard Ridley of Yarm, Embroidery Sampler

Richard Ridley is buried in St John the Baptist Church burial ground, Egglescliffe. Grave number 332598. The actual date of birth is not officially recorded, this tapestry embroidery sampler states it was February 15, 1808, date of death January 10, 1870. Richard Ridley calculated age at death was 61. On Richard Ridley gravestone the grave occupants including two infants, are listed below.
The words on this tapestry say: “In Memory of Richard Ridley, Yarm, Born February 15 1808, Died January 10 1870. The righteous are taken from the evil to come (they) Pass a few swiftly – fleeting years. And all that now in bodies live, Shall quit like me this vale of tears. Their righteous sentence to receive, But all, before they hence remove, May mansions for themselves prepare, In that eternal house above, And O’ My God, Shall I be there?”

I found this tapestry embroidery sampler in a junk shop in Leeds. I purchased it because of its Yarm and Stockton connection. It appears to have been the custom then, in some denominations, Stockton 1870, to have a burial tapestry made to record a loved one’s memory and passing. I have traced the author of the prayer on it, to John Wesley, Editor-Poet-Priest, 1782, the Methodist Church founder, and horseback travelling famous Northern missionary.

Image and details courtesy of Bob Wilson.