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Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.

Wapentake of Langbaurgh (West Division) - Petty Sessional Divison of Yarm - Poor Law Union, County Court District, and Rural Deanery of Middlesbrough - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.

This parish lies on the south bank of the Tees opposite the town of Stockton, in which borough a large portion of it is included for parliamentary purposes Its total area, including 59 acres of water surface, is 1,696 acres, and number of inhabitants about 15,000. The present rateable value of the whole township is £47,065. George Gilpin-Brown, Esq., of Scar House, Arkengarthdale, and the Earl of Harewood are the principal landowners, and the first named gentleman is the reputed lord of the manor. Thornaby was formerly a township under Stainton, but was constituted a distinct parish in 1844. Under the Local Government Act of 1888, it is divided into two Electoral divisions, named respectively Thornaby North and Thornaby South.

The village consists of a number of houses scattered round a large green, about 1½ miles S. by E. of Stockton. It is a place of considerable antiquity as is evidenced by its Danish name, but beyond two or three allusions in Domesday Book, scarcely anything is known of its ancient history. It had its chapel at the time of the Domesday Survey (A.D. 1086), which soon afterwards was given with the mother church of Stainton to the priory of Guisborough. It was made parochial in 1844, but was superseded by the erection of a new church at South Stockton in 1858. This old edifice which consists of nave with porch and bell turret, is used as a mission chapel, and contains 80 sittings. The living is a vicarage, gross annual value £329, in the gift of the Archbishop of York, and held by the Rev. H. Mellowes. A cemetery containing six acres was formed in 1869 at a cost of £1,400. It contains two neat mortuary chapels, and is under the control of a Burial Board.

SOUTH STOCKTON is a populous and thriving place in this township. It is situated on the south bank of the Tees, opposite Stockton, with which it is connected by a stone bridge of five arches, commenced in 1764, and completed in 1771. The total cost was about £8,000, which was raised by subscription, the subscribers receiving interest on their loans not exceeding five per cent. In 1820, all incumbrances having been paid off, the bridge became toll-free. This bridge impeded the navigation of the river, and was too narrow for the increased traffic; an Act of Parliament was consequently obtained in 1881, and the erection of a new bridge commenced in 1886, by the joint-committee of the Stockton Corporation and the South Stockton Local Board. It was formally opened on the 20th of June, 1887, and named, in commemoration of Her Majesty's Jubilee, the Victoria Bridge. It is a handsome structure of stone and iron, spanning the river by three arches. The centre one is 110 feet in span, and the two side ones 85 feet. The causeway is 60 feet wide between the parapets, and is lighted by 14 lamps. The total cost of the bridge, exclusive of parliamentary expenses, was £61,646. The engineers were Mr. Harrison Hayter and Mr. Charles Neale. The town is governed by a Local Board, formed in 1863, and for parliamentary purposes is included in the Borough of Stockton. Petty Sessions, for the Yarm Petty Sessional Division, are held here every Monday. The Church of St. Paul was erected in 1858, on a site presented by the Earl of Harewood, and consecrated by the Archbishop of York on the 23rd of September in that year. It is a neat stone structure, in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, and north aisle, and contains two stained-glass memorial windows. There are 800 sittings, all of which are free. This has been constituted the parish church of Thornaby, but the old church in the village is still used for divine service. The Thornaby registers date from 1630. The living is a Vicarage, in the gift of the Archbishop of York, and worth £315, with residence. A Mission Church, dedicated to St. Luke, was built in 1887-8, at a cost of about £1,200, exclusive of the site, which was given by the Earl of Harewood. There are also Mission Rooms in Trafaigar Street and Queen Street. The other places of worship are enumerated in the directory. A Mechanics' Institute was erected in 1865, in which are the offices of the Local Board and School Board, and a Temperance Hall in 1868. The National School was erected in 1846, and was also used for divine service previous to the consecration of the church. The premises have been much enlarged since, and will now accommodate 472 children in the three departments. A School Board was formed in 1871, and the following year the Westbury Street Schools were built for the accommodation of 580 children. The great increase in the number of inhabitants necessitated the provision of more school accommodation, and, in 1884, extensive premises were erected in Queen Street, capable of receiving nearly 1,000 children. The Catholic School was built in 1872, for 390 children, and is also used as a temporary chapel. The Wesleyan School, which adjoins the chapel, was built in 1882, for the accommodation of 540 children. It has an average attendance of 360, and is entirely self-supporting.

Previous to 1824 the district was purely rural, and the population of the whole township did not exceed 200. In that year a pottery was commenced by Mr. William Smith, of Stockton, The works are now carried on by Ambrose Walker & Co., and give employment to between 300 and 400 hands. The ware turned out rivals that produced in Staffordshire, and is in great demand both for home and foreign markets. A Glass Bottle Works was erected in 1839, and a Cotton Factory the following year, but the latter was subsequently abandoned. But it is to the introduction of the iron trade and shipbuilding that the place chiefly owes its prosperity, The South Stockton Iron Co., Limited, erected extensive works near Thornaby Road, in 1874, and the following year Messrs. William Whitwell & Co. commenced their works here with two furnaces. The Teesdale Iron and Engineering Works, belonging to Messrs. Head, Wrightson, & Co., are also on an extensive scale, and near these are the works of Messrs. Allan & Sons. There are two iron and steel shipbuilding yards, each employing a considerable number of hands; a large steam flour mill, oil-cake and bone mills, saw-mills, and other works enumerated in the directory.

There is a station here on the Darlington section of the North Eastern Railway; and near the town is a racecourse, covering 185 acres, the property of Lord Boyne, where a three days' meeting is held yearly in August.

[Description(s) from Bulmer's History and Directory of North Yorkshire (1890)]


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