Station Name: STOCKTON (St John's Crossing)

[Source: Geoff Merrington]

Date opened: 27.9.1825
Location: 48 Bridge Street
Company on opening: Stockton & Darlington Railway
Date closed to passengers: 1.7.1848 (probable)
Date closed completely: 1.7.1848 (probable)
Company on closing: Stockton & Darlington Railway
Present state: The booking office is Grade II listed and survives as a hostel
County: Durham
OS Grid Ref: NZ447183
Date of visit: January 2018

Notes: The Stockton and Darlington railway has a good claim to be the earliest public, passenger railway, and St John's was the terminus of the first train.

The first rail was laid in 1822 at St John's in Stockton, and the line opened on 27 September 1825 with a ceremonial train from Shildon to Stockton. This first train was hauled by Locomotion Number 1 and driven by George Stephenson. There were several hiccups, but the train did carry about 600 people and achieve a top speed of 15mph. The staithes at Stockton wharf were still under construction, so the passengers disembarked at St John's and 102 dignitaries went to Stockton Town Hall where there was a long celebration.

The first passenger service was horse drawn with steam traction starting 7 September 1833. The building alongside the crossing at St John's was used as the weigh house for the new railway, and it lost its passenger status when a new passenger station was opened in Stockton in 1848. However it has always been assumed that tickets were sold from here after 1836. There is now some doubt regarding the sale of tickets from the building. The original commemorative tablet on the building states. 'Here in 1825 the Stockton & Darlington Railway booked the first passenger'. The current tablet, which was relocated to the building from a brick wall alongside the crossing reads, 'The first rail of the Stockton & Darlington Railway was laid on the adjacent level crossing in May 1822', no mention being made of of the building being used as a booking office. Early S & D tickets were sold from inns, so sale from the adjacent hotel is more likely that sale from the weigh house.

The building was adjacent to what became the South Stockton goods depot. In the mid 1960s it became a British Railways parcel depot, finally losing its rail connection in the late 1970s.

The building was Grade II listed by English Heritage on 1.1.1951. The building is of plain brick with flat arched heads; central bay and window on one flank and a door on the other; there was originally a clock above the door. It has a slate roof with wooden gutters. Front elevation leans distinctly backwards.In 1975 it had a brief return to glory when it was used as a museum during the Rail 150 celebrations. Today it is a hostel run by a charity for the homeless.

The Stockton & Darlington Railway's booking office at St John's Crossing, Stockton-on-Tees, around 1900. In the early days of the Stockton & Darlington Railway the company adapted existing buildings rather than constructing new ones, and so adopted the practices of road coach operators. This house is said to have been used as a passenger booking office from about 1830. It is however also possible that tickets were sold in the Railway Hotel which is seen at the rear. This was common practice
for the S & D.
Photo © National Railway Museum and SSPL

1859 1,10,560 OS map. St Johns crossing is seen, the line continuing to the coal staiths
on the River Tees.

1895 1,2,500 OS map. The weigh house (blue arrow) is seen immediately south of St Johns crossing.

Stockton & Darlington weigh house at St John's level crossing. Beyond the level crossing the line terminated at the River Tees coal staithes.

St John's level crossing c1950s

Stockton & Darlington weigh house c.early 1950s. A commemorative tablet has been fixed to the wall of the building. Note the chimney stack seen in the two pictures above has been reduced in height.

The commemorative tablet on the side wall of the building in the 1950s. This has now been removed.
Photo by Walter Dendy

Stockton & Darlington weigh house in the 1950s.
Photo by Walter Dendy

Stockton & Darlington weigh house in the 1950s.
Photo from John Mann collection

St John's level crossing and the weigh house in May 1961. The building on the far left is the Railway Hotel; this may have been where tickets were sold rather than from the weigh house.
Photo by Brian Johnson

Looking south-west towards St John's level crossing in August 1968. The Wharf Exchange Sidings were clearly out of use by this time.
Photo by Brian Johnson

St John's level crossing in August 1968. Note the black rectangle on the brick wall to the right of the level crossing. This is the commemorative tablet that can now be seen on the front of the weigh house. Clearly when the wall was demolished the tabled was saved and relocated to the weigh house.
Photo by Brian Johnson

View of the level crossing and weigh house seen from the traffic office at the South Stockton goods depot in August 1968.
Photo by Brian Johnson

View of the weigh house seen from the traffic office at the South Stockton goods depot in August 1968.
Photo by Brian Johnson

View north-east across the site former St Johns level crossing in January 2015. As built we would be looking towards the coal staithes on the River Tees.
Photo by Nigel Thompson, reproduced from Geograph under creative commons licence

Looking south-west from the site of St John's level crossing in June 2015. The backward slope of the building is apparent.
Photo by Hornbeam Arts

The former Stockton & Darlington building in January 2018.

The tablet on the front of the building commemorates the laying of the first rail in 1922. This tablet was originally mounted on a brick wall adjacent to the level crossing but was relocated to the building when the wall was demolished following closure of the goods yard.
Photo by Geoff Merrington

24 March 1973

August 1968

August 1968

Click on thumbnail to enlarge




[Source: Geoff Merrington]

Last updated: Monday, 12-Feb-2018 18:44:52 CET
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