Eaglescliffe is first recorded as a spelling in 1639. It is an alteration of nearby Egglescliffe due to popular etymology. Eggles seemed meaningless and obscure and was popularly altered to Eagles which seemed to make better sense, particularly with the element cliff. It is thus a spelling established locally long before its use for the station of Eaglescliffe Junction on the old Stockton and Darlington railway in 1825 or the modern housing development.
Information about this place-name was supplied by Victor Watts by personal communication.
As recently as 1928 Eaglescliffe could still be described as a hamlet, partly in the ancient township of Preston-on-Tees and partly in the ancient township of Egglescliffe. In the 14th century the Seton family were the principal landlords in Preston, so it’s possible that their holdings included part of what we now know as Eaglescliffe. During the 15th and 16th centuries the Sayer family held the lands that the Setons once had. From the 13th century to the 16th century the Aslakby family of Aislaby were the main landlords in Egglescliffe, so they too may have held land between the villages of Egglescliffe and Preston.
See the Victoria History of the County of Durham vol.3 (ed.) William Page (1928)
An Early Mention
From “Curiosities of Great Britain” vol. 8, T.Dugdale (1854)
“. . . at Eaglescliffe and Norton, as well as nearer to the town (Stockton), are numerous handsome habitations and seats.”
Coal Depot Manager’s House (c.1825)
Southlands Villa (1875)
The Jubilee Assembly Rooms (1897)
Trinity Methodist Church (1902)
A Few Lost Buildings
Witham Hall, demolished in 1974.
Woodside Hall (1876) demolished in 1970.
Some People of Note
Robert Wilson ( ? – 1861) A local farmer who decided to manufacture fertilisers on his own account and set up a chemical works near Urlay Nook.
Robert Ropner (1838-1924) A German-born businessman who built up Britain’s largest tramp cargo fleet and developed one of Britain’s largest shipyards. He became mayor of Stockton and then the town’s M.P. He bought Preston Hall in 1882 and was knighted in 1902.
Samuel Sadler (1842-1911) A Worcestershire-born businessman who created a large chemical works in Middlesbrough. He became mayor of Middlesbrough and later the town’s M.P. He was knighted in 1905. He lived at Southlands Villa for 40 years.
Frank Middlemass (1919-2006) An actor, born in Eaglescliffe who played Dan Archer in the radio series The Archers. He also spent nine years in the television series As Time Goes By and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Malcolm Corking (1946- ) A table tennis player from Stockton who plays as a veteran for Eaglescliffe Table Tennis Club. In 1988 he won a team gold medal in the World Veteran Table Tennis Championship in Baltimore. In 1992 he won the veteran doubles in the English Open Championship.
Felicity Finch (1955- ) A London-born actress who grew up in Eagleslciffe. In 1987 she appeared on the radio serial The Archers as Ruth Archer and continued to play the same part for many years.
Gary Havelock (1968- ) A speedway bike rider from Eaglescliffe who was crowned World Champion in 1992.
Adele Parks (1969- ) A novelist born in Eaglescliffe. By 2017 she had 16 books to her name with total sales of over 3 million copies.
The Hearth Tax of 1666
Eaglescliffe was a rural area in the 17th century. If there were one or two houses in the district it would be impossible to identify them from the Hearth Tax returns.
See “Hearth Tax List for South Durham Lady Day 1666” (ed.) J.C.Howe for Cleveland Family History Society.
2001 7,908 (Eaglescliffe ward)
2011 10,449 (Eaglescliffe ward)
Whellan’s Directory of 1894 referred to a built up district under the name of “Eaglescliffe Junction”. Several of the residents were listed as having businesses elsewhere, such as a grocer in Middlesbrough and a cycle agent in Stockton. The others mentioned may well have also travelled to work; for example, a shipping manager, a contractor, an accountant, a solicitor, a commercial traveller and a master mariner. There were refreshment rooms here and the Station Hotel.
Ward’s Directory of 1936 listed a butcher, a grocer, 2 confectioners, a chemist and a saddler. This may not be a complete list.
A Selection of Dates
1681 There was a riot at the fishgarth near Aislaby.
1764 The road between Yarm and Stockton was straightened.
1825 The Stockton and Darlington Railway opened. Part of the original route ran through what later became known as Eaglescliffe. Clarence Road runs along part of the original route.
What was called the Yarm branch line was also opened. It ended near South View.
Yarm Station, not far from the present Allens West Station, was built around this time.
1827 A woman was killed on the railway. This is thought to have been the world’s first fatal accident on a public railway.
1830 A paper mill was established at Egglescliffe by Charles Bainbridge and Sons.
1833 Robert Wilson established a chemical works at Urlay Nook.
1853 Preston Junction railway station was opened. It was later renamed Eaglescliffe station.
1862 Yarm railway station, which was in Eaglescliffe, was closed.
1871 The Yarm Branch of the Stockton and Darlington Railway was closed.
1875 Southlands Villa was built.
1897 The Jubilee Assembly Rooms were built.
1902 Eaglescliffe Methodist church was dedicated.
1910 The chemical company was incorporated as the Eaglescliffe Chemical Company Limited.
1914 Eaglescliffe golf club was founded. In 1928 the club moved to its present course.
1920 The war memorial was unveiled.
1940 Lord Nuffield established a Metal Produce Recovery Unit at Eaglescliffe where over 1,000 staff worked at recovering damaged warplanes.
Allens West Railway Station was built in this year.
1946 Cleveland School was established in Woodside Hall.
The Metal Produce Recovery Unit was converted to the Royal Navy Spare Parts Distribution Centre. It later became the Royal Navy Supply Depot.
1953 The Eaglescliffe Chemical company merged with another firm to form British Chrome and Chemicals.
1962 Egglescliffe Secondary Modern School was built in Eaglescliffe. It became the much larger Egglescliffe Comprehensive School in the 1970s.
1969 Joseph Tetley and Company constructed a factory at Eaglescliffe for making tea bags which was soon producing more tea bags per year than any other factory in the world.
1970 Cleveland School amalgamated with Queen Victoria High School in Stockton to form Teesslde High School. The high school was housed in a new building on the site of Woodside Hall.
1974 Eaglescliffe became part of the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees.
1975 The A19 road was rerouted further east. Previously it ran through Eaglescliffe.
1997 Allens West Royal Navy Supply Depot was closed.
2002 Eaglescliffe with Preston Conservation Area was designated.
2011 The chrome works at Urlay Nook was demolished.
2014 Eaglescliffe station was refurbished and the number of parking spaces was increased.
This list of dates was compiled using “Victorian Eaglescliffe” M.Wilkinson (2002) and other secondary sources.
Suggested Further Reading
“Kelly’s Directory of Durham and Northumberland” (1914)
“The Ropner Story” I.Dear (1986)
“Victorian Eaglescliffe” M.Wilkinson (2002)