Good ol’ Stockton
Reputations can make any place go downhill. Crime, poverty and lack of investment can make once bustling cities and towns into derelict areas that people soon forget about. The only time they will crop up will be during reminiscent stories of the past, normally from someone older talking about ‘the good old times’. We all tend to do that at some point in our life, talk about the past about a whole range of things.
Well, there is a place in the Northeast of England that we can talk about its past but very much its future too. It’s in the midst of trying to recapture the local imagination, reincarnate a feel good factor and look towards a promising future, that one day could harbour many more tourists. The place I’m talking about is my hometown, Stockton-On-Tees.
Not to beat around the bush
If you are local to Stockton or the Teesside area, lets not kid ourselves, it hasn’t had the greatest of reputation through the years. Once a popular town for outsiders to head to the weekly markets, wander around its historical stores and head out for a busy night out down the strip, is now something of a distant memory. Violence, business closures and occupied by some of the less fortunate of citizens has given Stockton as a whole, and its beloved High Street, a gradual stay-away kind of feel to it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been one of the most disheartened of locals too.
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But aside from that I then look at some of the things we have in and around the High Street, and I think, ‘this place has potential’. It’s a crying shame to see a place empty and wasted, especially when I’ve travelled this world far and wide and what it takes for a place to become a ‘hotspot’ or a ‘tourist place’. The rightly captured image, the right marketing and the carefully placed article can be key to giving any place a much-needed tourism boost. I look at some places i’ve visited in the world such as abandoned churches or old cobbled stone laneways and I think ‘we’ve got that back home’. Forget the rumours and reputations and the rags than give it a bad name, let’s look at the actual setting for once. We’ve got it good.
Getting back on the map
As much as we are into a more modern and technologically aware era, I think in someways Stockton is stuck in the middle. It is trying to be a modern, fancy and luxurious place with new materials and a cleaner look, and I get that, but people like traditional, old fashioned and rustic too. It brings more of a personal feel to a place, and I really think Stockton has that very much in place already. Moving forward and coupled by its determination to recapture our imagination is typified by the efforts of Stockton Bid + Rediscover Stockton ‘s in the GB High Street Awards (where Stockton has made it to the final of the ‘Rising Star’ Awards).
Stockton is trying to move forward and get back on the map, so lets jog our memories and remind everyone why this place is rather cool:
It’s Englands widest
Boasting a unique element of its traditional existence, it is widely thought that Stockton High Street is still Englands widest high street. Imagine that in a travel and tourism marketing promo? Nowadays, travellers and tourists would hashtag that with every picture. Plus, it gives you plenty of space to stroll.
Yards and cobbled streets
The Green Dragon Yard area has fascinating bars, local ales and an authentic aura about the place. Situated on Finkle Street, it has a old fashioned vibe, through dark alleys and stone walls. A great place to be in awe of on a summers day and appreciate the towns heritage.
Probably Stocktons most historic buildings are on Finkle Street and have barely changed in time. Rumoured to be made of castle stone, Finkle Street’s buildings are thought to have originated from the 16th century! We can also add in Stockton Town Hall and the Shambles, shall we just apply for UNESCO Heritage Status?!
Just around the back of the High Street lays the Stockton’s Riverside. In the distance you can see Infinity Bridge all new and obscure, and towards the Castlegate Quay, replica ships and waterside bars. Who needs to visit the Liverpool Docks when we have it better here!
Internationally known cuisine
The local iconic dish is the Chicken Parmesan, or known as the ‘Parmo’. Have you ever been to the popular The George Pub and Grill where they have so many variations and sizes of parmo’s that they were chasing a place in the Guinness Book of Records? Have you tried out adopted-Italian restaurant Borges? There are some gems in this town. As a result of this there are great options for food lovers.
Have you went shopping in Stockton? Cartel Menswear is a local store that has some of the most fashionable and up-to-date range of clothes there is on any market. Cartel is very much a branded store that is well worth the shop if you want something smart.
Recently reported by the Gazette Live in September 2016, there has been a mysterious and yet intriguing discovery of a lost tunnel underground Church Street. More history and more potential for future discoveries. Who knows what else lies beneath us?
For all of you who didn’t know, the Stockton and Darlington railway was the world’s first platform for the first ever locomotive train. Little old Stockton, creating history! That’s our most noteworthy chunk of heritage and rightly so!
The markets are a big part of Stockton’s history and is especially relevant to its quirky status. Stockton has been typically labelled as a ‘market-town’ and with everything from fresh produce, books and retro goodies you can’t go wrong here. Have you also checked out the Flea Market by Finkle Street? Most of all this weekly gathering is littered with well-trodden gadgets and goods full of bargains.
Micro-pubs or ‘dive-bars’ are becoming a modern thing everywhere in the world now. They add a personalised feel, normally have a selection of local and international ales that tend to fill up easily and quickly. Try the Wasps Nest.
Theatre and the arts
Have you ever been to a show at the ARC Theatre? On the corner of Dovecot Street, the ARC dazzles like any modern theatre with its glass windows and modern approach. The Georgian Theatre is definitely somewhere you should head to on a weekend too with grungy vibes and music entertainment.
Events in town
Every Easter Saturday is the day Stockton Calling comes about, showcasing emerging new musical talent all in one day across several venues. A great place if you are music mad and a unique event to the Teesside area. Stockton Riverside Festival is still very much kicking about for a three day stint boasting international and local bands, entertainment and amusements.