Stokton upon Tease 1630. Place name Stockton + river name TEES. Stockton, Stoctun’[1183] -ton 1197-1331, Stokton(e) c.1245-1535, Stoketon 1195×1221-1339, Stockton from 1338, is probably ‘the outlying farm’, Old English stoc-tun. Stockton, which became the bishop of Durham’s principal manor house in the south of the county, seems to have originated as an outlying settlement of an estate perhaps originally centred at Norton. But the specific might alternatively be Old English stocc ‘a tree trunk’.

Information about this place-name was supplied by Victor Watts by personal communication

Early Landowners

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Bishops of Durham were lords of the manor of Stockton. Stockton Castle was one of their residences. During the 13th century the borough was separated from the agricultural manor.

 See the Victoria History of the County of Durham vol.3 (ed.) William Page (1928).

Boldon Book

“In Stoktona there are eleven villeins and a half, every one of whom holds 2 bovates and renders works as they of Boldon, except cornage. In the same vill 6 firmars hold 9 bovates, and they render and work as they of Norton. Adam son of Walter holds 1 carucate and 1 bovate of land for 1 mark. Robert of Cambois holds 4 bovates for half a mark, and a bovate of the bishop’s loan (accomodatione), and is quit of works while he is in the service of the bishop, still if he shall be out of it he will work as much as pertains to the half carucate of Walter. The same Robert has the old toft of the hall near his house and renders thence 16 pence. Edwin and Robert, cottiers, render for 2 tofts 12 pence. Godwin the cottier 6 pence. Simon the smith, for 1 toft, 4 pence. The pinder holds 6 acres, and has thraves of Stockton and Herteburna [Hartburn] and Prestona [Preston] like the others, and renders 180 hens and 500 eggs. The ferry renders 20 pence. The whole vill renders 1 milch cow. One bovate of land which the bishop has beyond the Tees over against the hall renders 4 shillings.”

Taken from “The Victoria History of the County of Durham” vol. 1 (ed.) W.Page (1905)

An Early Mention

“An exact survey of the manor of Stockton” written in 1647 stated that “the Bpps (Bishop’s) Castle situate at the South end of the towne of Stockton by the River Tease is ruinous, and in great decay, that the River is navigable, and within ten miles of the Mayne sea. That the towne of Stockton is an antient (ancient) burrough and markett towne by antient charters, but the markett unserved of late, standing very dirty in Winter, formerly a fair for eight days”

“Magna Britannia Antiqua et Nova” C.Ward & R.Chandler vol vi (1738) “Stockton is risen up in its stead (in Yarm’s stead), from a poor Village, without Trading, or any houses but what are thatch’d and clay’d to be neat a well-built Corporation and Market-Town, driving a great Trade in Lead and Butter. ‘Tis governed by a Mayor, and the Market is on Saturday weekly. The Ale brew’d in this Town is very famous, and becomes a grateful Present often from the Gentry to their Friends in London . . .”

“A Description of England and Wales” vol.3 F.Newbery and T.Carnan (1769) “Stockton, from a poor village, is become a corporation, and a well built market town, that carries on a considerable trade to London in lead, butter, and bacon; besides which it has been famed for its ale, which was formerly much better known in London than it is at present. It is a place of great resort and business; and both its trade, and the number of its inhabitants, are much increased. The river Tees is capable of bearing ships of good burthen to this place, but the current is sometimes dangerous; however, for the management of the port, there is a collector of the customs; and other inferior officers. This port is a member of that of Newcastle, as appears by a commission returned into the exchequer, in the reign of king Charles the Second, and by a report made in the third year of king George the Second, of the dimensions of its three quays for shipping and landing goods. It has one church, and is governed by a mayor and alderman. It is one of the four ward towns of the county, and has a market on Saturdays, and a fair on the 18th of July, for toys and fish.”

Selected Buildings

9 Finkle Street (17th century)

Hartburn Manor House (17th century)

Green Dragon Inn (18th or early 18th century)

St. Thomas’ church (1712, with alterations in 1893 and 1906)

Former Education Offices, 32 Dovecot Street (early or mid 18th century)

Gloucester House, Church Road (mid 18th century)

No. 16 Church Road (mid 18th century)

Nos. 148 and 149 High Street (18th century, once Stockton Vicarage)

Columbia House, Church Street (18th century)

Georgian Theatre (originally an old tithe barn, converted to a theatre in 1766)

Town Hall (1735)

Market Cross (1768)  

The Shambles (1825)

Railway booking office on Bridge Road (1825)

Holy Trinity church (1838, altered in the 1880s)

St. Mary’s R.C. church (1842)

The County Court (1863)

Friends Meeting House, Dovecot Street (1876)

St. Peter’s church (1881)

The Victoria Bridge (1887)

Railway station (1893)

Almshouses (1897)

Globe Theatre (1935)

The Municipal Buildings (1961)

The Swallow Hotel (1970)

The Princess of Wales Bridge (1992)

A Few Lost Buildings

Blue Posts (15th century) demolished in 1811.

Stockton Bridge (1769) replaced by the Victoria Bridge in 1887.

The Vane Arms Hotel (18th century) demolished c.1969.

Brunswick Methodist chapel (1823) demolished in 2009.

Borough Hall (1840) demolished in 1964.

The Castle Brewery (1858) demolished in 1969.

Stockton Library in Wellington Street (1862) demolished in 1969.

Star Theatre (1874) destroyed by fire in 1883.

Stockton and Thornaby Hospital (1876) demolished in 1977.

Queen’s Hotel (1876) demolished in 1981.

Grand Theatre (Opened in 1891 in the rebuilt premises of the Star Theatre) demolished in 1969.

Victoria Buildings, High Street (Victorian) demolished in 1964.

Gasholders at Stockton Gas Works (1892) demolished in 1985.

Stockton Higher Grade School (1896) demolished in 1984.

Baptist Tabernacle (1903) demolished in 2001.

Queen Victoria High School for Girls (1904) demolished in 1973.

Hippodrome Theatre (1905) destroyed by fire in 1932.

Castle Theatre (1908) demolished in 1969.

Co-operative Emporium (1931) demolished in 1999.

The Regal Cinema (1935) demolished in 1966.

Some People of Note

John Jenkins (  ?   -1661) A Welshman who came to Stockton as a major in Cromwell’s army. After the Civil War, he settled in Stockton. By his will he endowed a charity for the poor of Stockton.

Thomas Rudd (1640-1719) A clergyman from a Westmorland family who was curate of Stockton from 1663 to 1713. He oversaw the building of the church of St. Thomas.

Edmund Harvey (1698-1781) A Stockton pewterer who pioneered Sunday Schools and improvements in the navigation of the River Tees.

Brass Crosby (1725-1793) A solicitor from Stockton who became Lord Mayor of London in 1770 and fought for press freedom. The phrase “as bold as brass” is thought to refer to him.

William Christopher (1735-1797) A Stockton-born navigator who amassed a fortune as a captain the the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Nathan Brunton (1744-1814) A Stockton naval captain who rose to the rank of Vice Admiral of the Red.

Margaret Nicholson (c.1750-1828) A Stockton-born housemaid who found employment in London. In 1786 she attempted to stab King George III with a dessert knife. She was declare insane and spent the rest of her life in Bethlem Hospital.

Thomas Sheraton (1751-1806) A Stockton-born cabinet maker who became famous through his four-volume work The Cabinet Maker’s and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book

Joseph Ritson (1751-1803) A writer from Stockton. His collections of poetry and folk tales were published as “The Bishopric Garland”, “The Yorkshire Garland” and “The Northumberland Garland”.

Grace Sutton (1757-1814) A wealthy benefactress who lived in Elton. In 1803 she founded the Stockton School of Industry for Girls which later became Holy Trinity Girls’ School. She has a monument in Stockton parish church.

Thomas Bertie (1758-1825) Born Thomas Hoar in Stockton-on-Tees, he took his wife’s surname on marriage. As a naval commander he famously captured three enemy ships at the Battle of Copenhagen. He rose to the rank of Admiral and was knighted in 1813.

John Walker (1781-1859) A Stockton chemist who invented what he called “friction lights” in 1826 or 1827. These were the world’s first safety matches.

Henry Heavisides (1791-1870) A Stockton printer who was also a political activist and a historian.

Thomas Hackworth (1797-1877) An engineer from Northumberland who was a younger brother of Timothy Hackworth. He moved to Stockton in 1839 where he helped to establish Fossick and Hackworth, a company that made locomotive engines. From 1853 the firm built marine engines and later their works became the famous Blair’s marine engine works.

Joseph Dodds (1819-1891) A solicitor from Teesdale who became Stockton’s first M.P. in 1868.

Jonathan Pickering (1826-1891) A Stockton engineer who designed an advanced type of pulley and began manufacturing lifts at the Globe Works on Norton Road.

William Ashmore (1829-1904) An engineer from West Bromwich who founded the Parkfield Ironworks at Stockton and later formed the famous Ashmore, Benson and Pease company.

George Butterfield (1879-1917) A Stockton-born athlete who won the AAA one mile title in three successive years and represented his country in the 1908 Olympic Games. His time for the mile in 1906 was the fastest in the world that year.

Mary Leslie (1880-1974) She was born Mary Martin in Sunderland and was educated in Stockton. She became Stockton’s first lady sanitary inspector and worked energetically to combat poverty and poor hygiene in the town.

Will Hay (1888-1949) A comedy film actor from Stockton who rose to become the third highest grossing star at the British Box Office. He was famous for playing schoolmasters.

George M’Gonigle (1889-1939) Dr. M’Gonigle was born in Monkwearmouth but is known for his work as Medical Officer of Health in Stockton, where he earned the nickname “The Housewives’ Champion”.

Ivy Close (1890-1986) A film star from the “silent” era who was born in Stockton. The Daily Mirror judged her “The World’s Most Beautiful Woman”.

Freddie Dixon (1892-1956) A motorcycle and racing car driver from Stockton who enjoyed success in the Isle of Man TT races and once finished third at the Le Mans 24 hour race.

Edward Cooper (1896-1985) A Stockton grocer who won the Victoria Cross in 1917. During the Third Battle of Ypres he single-handedly captured an enemy blockhouse and forced 45 soldiers to surrender.

Doreen Stephens (1922-1965) A Stockton-born singer who was a regular on The Billy Cotton Bandshow on radio during the 1950s.

Colin Renfrew (1937-   ) An archaeologist who was born in Stockton-on-Tees. He became professor of archaeology at Cambridge Universty and was Master of Jesus College, Cambridge for 10 years. He was created a life peer in 1991.

Ridley Scott (1937-        ) A film director from South Shields who lived in Stockton in his youth. He directed the films Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator. He was knighted in 2003.

Ian Wrigglesworth (1939-         ) A Stockton-born politician who served as a local M.P. from 1974 to 1987. He was one of the founding members of the Social Democratic Party. In 2013 he was created a life peer.

Elizabeth Estensen (1949-         ) An actress from Stockton who played one of The Liver Birds on television. In 1999 she began a long run playing  a character in Emmerdale.

Colin Walker (1962-      ) A steeplechaser from Stockton who won a bronze medal in the 1990 Commonwealth Games and represented his country in the 1992 Olympic Games.

Stephen Tompkinson (1965-    ) An actor who born in Stockton, but moved to Lancashire as a boy. He made his name in comedy and won the “Best TV Comedy Actor” award in 1994, although most of his later work has been as a serious actor.

Lisa Cushley (1969-       ) A Stockton-born ice skater who finished second the British championships in 1985 and represented the United Kingdom in the Winter Olympics in 1988.

Anna Huntley (1982-    ) A mezzo-soprano from Stockton who has performed with the English National Opera.

Richard Kilty (1989-     ) A sprinter from Stockton who was the world indoor 60 metres champion in 2014. At the Olympic Games in 2016, he represented the United Kingdom in the final of the men’s 4×100 metres relay.

The Hearth Tax of 1666

In the returns of this national tax, Stockton was divided into two parts, referred to as “Stockton Town” and “Stockton Burrow” (Borough).

In Stockton Town there were 37 houses with 1 or 2 hearths and one house with 3 hearths. There were two properties with 4 hearths, in the names of “James Burdon” and “Jno Lambert”. The largest house was the property of “James Cooke Gent”, with 5 hearths.

In Stockton Borough there were 44 houses with 1 or 2 hearths and 4 with 3 hearths. There were two 5-hearth properties, belonging to “Robert Jackson Gent” and “Margrett Bailise”. The highest taxpayer was “Jno Wells Gent” with 6 hearths.

See “Hearth Tax List for South Durham Lady Day 1666” (ed.) J.C.Howe for the Cleveland Family History Society.


1801     7,142

1851     10,172

1901     49,705

1961     81,274

2011     82,880


White’s Directory of 1847 portrayed Stockton as a busy commercial and shipping town. The list included 28 grocers, 45 butchers, 12 bakers, 6 confectioners, 8 chemists, 5 glass, china and earthenware dealers, 29 joiners and cabinet makers, 57 shopkeepers, 12 drapers, 39 tailors, 32 milliners and dressmakers, 6 hosiers and haberdashers, 15 straw hat makers, 45 boot and shoe makers, 2 pawnbrokers, 7 booksellers and stationers, 7 watch and clock makers, 2 pipe makers, 9 wine and spirit merchants, and 63 hotels, inns and taverns. The list also included 6 ironmongers, 5 iron founders, 8 blacksmiths, 5 wheelwrights, 8 corn millers and flour dealers, 12 timber merchants, 16 coal fitters and merchants, 5 coopers, 4 sail makers, 7 rope makers, 4 block and mast makers, 6 marine store dealers, 2 boat builders, 8 merchants, 3 ship builders and 2 shipsmiths.

Ward’s Directory of 1936 cannot be compared directly to White’s of 1847 as neither gave a complete list. Ward’s listed 54 grocers, 26 butchers, 9 bakers, 22 confectioners, 16 fruiterers, 6 fishmongers, 9 dairymen, 15 general dealers, 8 chemists, 28 tailors, 14 dressmakers, hosiers and costumiers, 7 milliners, 34 boot and shoe makers, 21 newsagents, 19 tobacconists, 13 booksellers and stationers 4 wine and spirit merchants and 8 pawnbrokers, As well as hotels, inns and taverns and various examples of light and heavy industry, the list also included 7 coal merchants, 2 chimney sweeps, 8 furniture dealers, 4 china shops, 11 ironmongers, 3 saddlers, 11 watch and clock makers and 3 wireless dealers.

A Selection of Dates

1212     King John stayed at Stockton Castle.

1237     A Chapel of Ease was built in Stockton around this date .

1310     Bishop Antony Bek of Durham granted Stockton a weekly market and an annual fair.

1322     A Scottish army attacked Stockton.

1575     The “Survey of the Manor house of Stockton, commonly called Stockton Castle” was made.

1644     During the Civil War, a Scottish army occupied Stockton and remained there until 1647.

1652     Parliament ordered Stockton Castle to be pulled down.

1680     The trade of Stockton was increasing and as a result, the Customs officers were moved to Stockton from Hartlepool.

1712     The church of St. Thomas was consecrated.

1724     The first Stockton Races were held, just across the river at The Carrs.

1735     The Town House was built.

1748     John Wesley preached in Stockton market place.

1751     The Baptists were established in Stockton.

1766     Stockton theatre was opened.

1769     Edmund Harvey suggested shortening the course of the River Tees below Stockton by constructing two cuts.

1771     Stockton Bridge was completed.

1791     A subcription library was inaugurated.

1820     The High Street was lit by gas lamps.

1825     The Stockton and Darlington Railway was opened. This was the world’s first public railway.

1826     Friction matches were invented in Stockton by John Walker.

1832     There was an outbreak of cholera in the town.

1838     Holy Trinity church was consecrated.

1842     St. Mary’s Roman Catholic church was consecrated.

1852     The Borough of Stockton and the Town of Stockton became a single administrative unit.

Stockton railway station was built. It was rebuilt in 1893.

1854     Matthew Pearse and Company began building ships at their North Shore yard.

Jonathan Pickering began constructing lifts at the Globe Elevator Works.

1855     Stockton Races were run at Mandale Marshes for the first time.

1859     Stockton Baths were opened.

1860     The Malleable Ironworks began production.

1866     The Wesleyan chapel on North Terrace was dedicated.

1867     Stockton became a parliamentary borough.

1869     Blair and Company built the first compound ship’s steam engine to be produced in Stockton.

1872     A fire brigade came into service. The Moor Ironworks began production.

1877     The town’s first public library was opened. It replaced by a new building in 1969.

1876     The Presbyterian Church and the Friends’ Meeting house were both built.

               William Benson built the Hope Iroworks at Parkfield.

1882     Stockton Football Club was formed.

1887     The Victoria Bridge was completed.

1888     Robert Ropner took over the North Shore shipyard

1893     Ropner Park was opened by the Duke and Duchess of York.

1896     The Higher Grade School on Nelson Terrace was opened.

1898     Stockton won the F.A. Amateur Cup. They won again in 1903, and 1912.

1899     Electric trams began running, connecting Stockton with Norton and Middlesbrough.

1900     Stockton Grammar School was opened. Queen Victoria High School for Girls opened in 1902.

1906     A new railway bridge across the River Tees was constructed.

1908     The Castle theatre was opened as a music hall. It was re-named the Empire in 1914.

1913     The Richard Hind Secondary Technical School for Boys was opened.

1925     Ropner’s shipyard closed. It reopened briefly under new ownership but finally closed in 1931.

1926     Blair’s marine engine works went into liquidation.

1931     The last trams ran through Stockton.

1935     The Regal cinema opened. In 1945 it was re-named the Odeon. The Globe theatre also opened this year. It closed in 1974.

1941     The Malleable Works was bombed, but production of bomb casings and Morrison shelters was not interrupted.

1947     The Stockton Casting Company Ltd. began work at their new foundry in Portrack.

1948     Stockton were champions of the North Yorkshire and South Durham Cricket League for the second time. They were also champions in 1897 and 1975.

Housing development began at Fairfield. The Roseworth Estate followed in 1949 and the Hardwick estate in 1957.

1949     The Bowesfield Works began building electric and diesel-electric railway locomotives.

1951     Grangefield Grammar Schools were opened. An open air theatre was erected in Ropner Park.

1953     Preston Hall Museum was opened.

1963     Hardwick Secondary Modern School was opened.

               British Visqueen began manufacturing polythene sheeting at the Bowesfield site.

1966     Stockton Sports Centre was built.

1969     Stockton Central Library was opened.

1973     The Castlegate shopping centre was opened after part of the High Street had been demolished to make way for the new shops. Stockton Sixth Form College was established.

1981     Stockton Racecourse was closed and was replaced by Teesside Park shopping centre.

1983     The Dovecot Arts Centre was opened.

1988     The first Stockton Riverside Festival was staged.

1992     The Princess of Wales Bridge was constructed.

1993     A replica of Captain Cook’s ship Endeavour was moored at Stockton for the next 25 years.

1995     The Tees Barrage was opened by Prince Philip.

1996     Cleveland County was abolished and Stockton became a unitary authority.

1998     The Stockton ARC was opened

2001     The new Baptist Tabernacle was opened.

2007     Stockton was named “best city” by the Britain in Bloom judges. Stockton won the national title again in 2009, 2011 and 2013.

2009     The Infinity Bridge across the River Tees was officially opened.

2010     North Shore Academy was opened.

2016     A heritage fair was held in Stockton.

This list of dates was compiled using A History of the Town and Borough of Stockton-on-Tees T.Sowler (1972) and other secondary sources.

Suggested Further Reading

“The Parochial History and Antiquities of Stockton-on-Tees” J.Brewster (1829)

“The Annals of Stockton-on-Tees” H.Heavisides (1865)

“The Local Records of Stockton and the Neighbourhood” T.Richmond (1868)

“Places of worship in Stockton-on-Tees” A.Betteney and P.Moon (2008)

“The Town of Stockton-on-Tees and its Buildings” R.Daniels (2014)

“Pictures of Stockton Past” A.Betteney (2016)

“A Town Grows Up: Stockton 1568-1668” T.Sowler CTLHS Bulletin No.2 (1968)