A brief history

Let’s start off with a brief history of the town of Stockton. Of course there are tons of books and historical documents that provide interesting information about the town and its borough throughout the years, but we aim to provide you with some general but interesting facts. We’ll try to keep it brief but elaborate enough for those of you who want to know some details about Stockton or the borough.

Name and early history

Stockton_Town_HallThe name of Stockton is thought to be derived from two Anglo-Saxon words, namely Stocc and Ton. The former word is known to have the meaning of ‘log’ or ‘wood’. The word ‘ton’ means farm or homestead. Given this information, the word Stockton would mean something like ‘wooden farm’ or ‘farm built of logs’.

However, it is known that when the ancient word ‘stocc’ was used at the beginning of a word or sentence it would often refer to the similar word ‘stoc’ which means cell or place. Names with the ‘stoc’ reference (like Stoke or Stow) usually refer to farms which belonged to a religious house or manor. Scientists think that Stockton is part of this last group, and was therefore perhaps an outpost for Norton or Durham.

Like its name suggest, Stockton began as an Anglo-Saxon settlement near the River Tees. Evidence shows that Stockton was created as a manor as early as 1138 and was shortly after purchased by a bishop from Durham. He then turned Stockton to a borough allowing for more freedom within the town. This resulted in freeing many peasants and allowing craftsmen to enter the town and practice their crafts. The bishop who initially bought Stockton build a ‘castle’ (now known as Stockton Castle) which is estimated to be from the year 1376.

During the early 12th century Stockton became a busy port because of the market which was held every Wednesday. Money was made by trading with many other towns in the area. Exporting wool and importing wine for the upper-class was the most important source of income during this era. Despite this, the town of Stockton remained ‘a mere town’ with a population of just above 1000 people for many centuries.

In 1644 the Scots captured Stockton and tore down its castle. Today the old castle place is occupied by a massive shopping Centre (Castlegate Centre) in the center of the town.

Industrial times and onwards

Locomotion_(1925_cavalcade)During the 17th and 18th centuries shipbuilding got a massive boost in the town of Stockton. Besides this, other smaller industries began to develop as well, such as sail, rope and brick making. During this era, Stockton became the biggest port for County Durham and Westmorland.

During the industrial revolution, the town of Stockton grew rapidly due to iron making and electrical engineering which started back in the 18th century. In merely 50 years the town’s population grew from 10.000 in 1851 to almost 50.000 in 1905. The discovery of iron ore within the Eston Hills also turned out to be a great boost for the local people and government.

316505In 1822 the town of Stockton was lucky enough to witness one of the greatest events which changed the face of the world forever. The very first rail – off the hand of George Stephenson – was laid on Bridge Road to start the Stockton and Darlington Railway. This inducted the start of the industrial revolution in the area, and a couple of years later the first steam trams began running in the streets. In 1897 they were replaced by electrical trams.

In the 20th century the engineering and industrial aspects of the town began to disappear and make place to the service industries which are now the town’s main employers