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Stockton on Tees, Durham

Historical Description

Stockton-on-Tees, a market-town, a municipal and parliamentary borough, and a parish in Durham. The town stands on the river Tees, 11 miles ENE of Darlington, 235 from London, and has passenger and goods stations on the N.E.R., and a head post office. It was given to the Bishops of Durham soon after the Norman Conquest, and had a castle built by one of the bishops. It was visited by King John in 1214, suffered devastation by the Scots in 1325, was held by the Royalists in the early part of the Civil Wars of Charles I., and taken by the Parliamentarians in 1644; contained only 120 dwelling-houses in 1661, acquired commercial importance through the decline of Hartlepool about 1683, yielded up 846 English coins from Edward VI. to James II. in 1792, and numbers among its natives the dramatist J. Reed, the antiquary Ritson, the seaman Allison, lord mayor Crosby, and John Walker, the inventor of lucifer matches. The castle was rebuilt in the 14th century, and repaired in 1578 by Bishop Barnes, gave refuge to one bishop from the plague in 1597, to another from the rebels in 1640, was dismantled by the Commonwealth authorities in 1647-52, stood at the end of High Street, and until lately was represented by a short massive tower. High Street extends about a mile from N to S, and is straight and very spacious. The town as a whole is pretty regularly aligned, well-built, and well-paved. A five-arched stone bridge, built in 1761, formerly spanned the Tees, but it was pulled down and a new bridge built in 1887 at a cost of £100,000. The town-hall was built in 1735, and is a quadrangular and foreign-looking edifice, with tower and spire. The borough hall was built in 1852, and entirely renovated in 1890.

There are six ecclesiastical parishes-viz. St Thomas' (population, 9489), Holy Trinity, partly in Yorkshire (constituted in 1835, population 8945), St James' (constituted in 1864, population 12,348), St John the Baptist's (constituted in 1871, population 5377), St Paul's and St Peter's (both formed in 1875, population 4118 and 10,376). The living of St John the Baptist is a perpetual curacy, the others are vicarages in the diocese of Durham. Gross value of St Thomas', Holy Trinity, St James', and St Peter's, £1161 with residence, £332, £342, and £300 with residence respectively. Net value of St John's and St Paul's, £300 each, the latter with residence. Patron of St Thomas' and Holy Trinity, the Bishop; of the other four, the Crown and Bishop alternately. St Thomas' Church was rebuilt in 1710-12 and thoroughly restored in 1893, is a spacious brick edifice, with a chancel, nave, aisles, and tower, and had G. S. Faber as a vicar. Holy Trinity Church was built in 1837, and is in the Pointed style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, transepts, with tower and spire. St James' Church was built in 1867 at a cost of about £6000, and is in the Early Decorated style, with chancel, nave, aisle, transepts, SW tower and spire. It was restored in 1889. The church of St John the Baptist was built in 1873-74, and consists of chancel, nave, aisles, and S porch. St Paul's Church is in the Early English style, was built in 1885, and consists of chancel and nave. St Peter's Church was built in 1880, is in the Gothic style, and consists of chancel, nave, aisles, and western tower. There are Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist, Wesleyan, Primitive, New Connexion, and United Free Methodist, Unitarian, and Roman Catholic chapels, a Friends' meetinghouse, and a Jews' synagogue. There are several public schools, including a higher grade Board school which cost upwards of £20,000, endowed almshouses, and other charities.

The town has four banks and several good hotels, is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, and publishes two weekly newspapers. There are also baths and wash-houses, a corn exchange, a literary institute, a free public library, an hospital, a masonic hall, a public dispensary, three theatres, an exchange hall, a fever hospital, and two cemeteries. General markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays, a cattle market every Wednesday, hiring fairs on two Wednesdays before 13 May and 23 Nov., and fairs for cattle on the last Friday in April and on the Friday before 18 Oct. Shipbuilding, rope and sail making, iron and brass founding, steam-engine-making, brewing, and pottery work are carried on. There are corn mills, and extensive brick and tile works. The salmon fisheries on the Tees are important. Cockles and shrimps are also procured in large quantities. A park which was presented to the town by Robert Ropner was opened by the Duke and Duchess of York in 1893. It is beautifully laid out, and contains a lake 3¼ acres in extent. The town, a sub-port under Middlesborough, is a vast depot for coals, exports chiefly manufactured iron and steel, and imports timber, unwrought iron, wheat, hemp, flax, linseed, tallow, hides, wine, spirits, and colonial produce. The commerce declined somewhat after the rise of Middlesborough, but is still large and flourishing. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port in 1895 was 31 (22,752 tons). The entries and clearances each average 780 (260,000 tons) per annum. The Stockton and Darlington railway, constructed by George Stephenson for Edward Pease and some other members of the Society of Friends, was the first passenger railway constructed in England. It was sanctioned as a horse tramway by Act of Parliament dated 1821 and 1823, but leave was obtained to use locomotive engines. The line was opened on Sept. 27, 1825, when the first train of thirty-four vehicles was drawn by an engine designed and driven by George Stephenson, the speed attained being 12 miles per hour. The line was absorbed by the N.E.R. in 1863. The navigation of the river Tees is controlled by the Tees Conservancy Commission, incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1852, and under the superintendence of their engineer the course of the river has been straightened, the bed has been dredged up to Middlesborough to a depth of 18 feet at low water, training walls defining the course of the navigable channel have been erected, and many miles of embankment made. The South Gare breakwater, about 2½ miles in length, near Redcar, has been constructed; and the North Gare breakwater, on the Durham side, has been in progress for several years, and is still being carried on. On the bar at high water spring tides is now a depth of 36 feet of water, and at low water 20 feet; vessels drawing 17 feet of water can come up to the town, and the approaches to the river are well lighted. The town was incorporated prior to 1344, is divided into ten wards, and governed by a mayor, 10 aldermen, and 30 councillors, who act as the urban district council. It was made a parliamentary borough by the Reform Act of 1867. The borough has also a separate commission of the peace. The parliamentary borough comprises the townships of Stockton and Thornaby, part of the township of Linthorpe, and part of the parish of Norton. Acreage, 5460; population, 68,875. It returns one member to the House of Commons. The township is conterminate with the municipal borough, and comprises 2713 acres of land, and 135 of water. Population, 49,705. The parish contains also the townships of Preston-upon-Tees and East Hartburn.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyCounty Durham 
Ecclesiastical parishStockton-upon-Tees St. Thomas 
Poor Law unionStockton-upon-Tees 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Stockton on Tees from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for County Durham is available to browse.

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering county Durham online: