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A look back at Stockton's history
The view from Stockton bridge, 1832.
The view from Stockton bridge, 1832. Picture: Images North East

In a series of radio programmes, BBC Tees' Diane Youdale was joined by established history and heritage author Paul Menzies, as she tried to rediscover Teesside and County Durham.

Paul aimed to reignite a love for our area, and the outdoors in us all.

They visited sites of old photos and took a new snapshot, to compare the past with the present.

During their travels, they found themselves in Stockton...

Paul Menzies talks about Stockton

It was appropriate to begin our riverside walk close to the Victoria Bridge as it was the opening of Stockton Bridge in 1771 which led to Yarm's demise as the main port on the Tees.

The relocation of the Customs Office from Hartlepool to Stockton in 1680 heralded a period of regeneration and economic growth.

Port wars

Much of Stockton as we know it was built at this time when the town was challenging Yarm's supremacy as a port.

About Paul
Paul is the author of a series of books made up of old pictures from around the area
The series of books are called 'Images of England'
BBC Tees' Diane Youdale has been out and about with Paul, finding out the history of our area

The High Street was paved in 1717 and several buildings familiar to us today were built, including the Parish Church in 1712, the Town Hall in 1735 and the Market Cross in 1785.

The grandeur of Georgian Stockton was epitomised by 'The Square' near Thistle Green, a fashionable place to live and home to John Walker, inventor of the friction match.

When the famous Stockton to Darlington Railway opened in 1825, the future as a port exporting coal seemed assured.

But as had happened at Yarm the development of another shipping point further downriver brought an untimely end to Stockton's role as the main port on the Tees.

The larger ships used to carry increased loads of coal required deeper water berths.

The view from Stockton bridge, 2009.
The view from Stockton bridge, 2009. Picture: Images North East

These were available at newly built Middlesbrough which was also closer to the sea. With the railway being extended there too Stockton had to think again! Not for the first time Stockton had to reinvent itself!

The Victorian era was a time of massive industrial development along the Tees and Stockton was played its part.

Regenerated Stockton

We ended our walk close to the site of Kelly's Ferry landing stage used by thousands of workers each day going to shipyards like Craig Taylors and ironworks owned by Whitwells and Head Wrightson.

A regenerated Stockton enjoyed economic prosperity once more!

We looked across to Finkle Street and Thistle Green, where some of the oldest parts of Stockton still remain.

The Georgian splendour of The Square became the squalor of Victorian slums which were cleared in the 1920's.

'Around Cleveland'

The shipyards, ironworks and terraced houses have gone too, their dereliction made famous following the visit of the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980's.

Today they have been replaced by a vast array of new offices, bridges, waterways and state of the art university campus we have today.

Not for the first time in its history regeneration rules at Stockton!

Rediscovering Saltburn's history
15 Dec 09 |  History
How Eston's mines changed history
15 Dec 09 |  History
Diane Youdale takes in Teesside
15 Sep 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
Presenter Profile: Diane Youdale
16 Jul 09 |  TV & Radio
In pictures: 'Around Cleveland'
15 Dec 09 |  People & Places


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