Stockton-on-Tees

Jo’s Monday walk : to Infinity and beyond!

Just a hint of blue sky through the Infinity Bridge

Just a hint of blue sky through the Infinity Bridge

One of the hardest things about my Monday walks is deciding where to take you next.  I have easy access to both coast and countryside where I live in the north east of England.  Add in a healthy dose of curiosity and restlessness and the sky’s the limit!

Last week’s visit to the Glass Centre is a hard act to follow, but I’m going to take you a little way south of me today, to the River Tees. The lovely curves of the Infinity Bridge have added grace and beauty to another quite industrial part of my world.  This weekend the Stockton Riverside Festival was taking place.  I hope a deluge or two didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for the music.

Our start point will be the parking lot behind the White Water Centre.  We’ve walked around the Tees Barrage before but this time we’ll be heading towards Stockton-on-Tees.

The White Water Centre and cafe

The White Water Centre, and cafe

There are usually canoes taking to the water

There are usually canoes taking to the water.  Tees Barrage is in the distance

Walk towards the Infinity Bridge

Walk towards the Infinity Bridge

And underneath!  Don't worry- we'll come back to it.

And underneath! Don’t worry- we’ll come back to it.

It’s a popular cycle track too, so you’ll need to be alert.  Some cyclists sound their bell in warning, but more often they just loom up.  You don’t want to drop your camera!

Stockton is an Anglo-Saxon name, the ending ‘ton’ meaning farm or homestead.  There is little in the way of agriculture to be seen on this stretch of the River Tees.  The town used to have a thriving outdoor market where fresh produce was readily and cheaply available.   The life and character that this brought has sadly vanished.

Stockton’s main claim to fame is tied to the advent of steam travel in 1822.  The first rail of George Stephenson’s Stockton and Darlington Railway was laid locally, on Bridge Rd.  Stephenson drove Locomotion no.1 himself on its first journey, on 27th September 1825.  In recent years the riverside has been developed to make a focal point for the town.

George Stephenson's Locomotion

A tribute to George Stephenson’s Locomotion no.1

The riverside and Teesside Millenium Bridge

The riverside and Teesquay Millenium Footbridge

Have you spotted something beyond the bridge?  Something with tall masts?  My main reason for walking this way, and one of my favourite things.  Wait just a moment.

First we need to pass beneath the bridge

First we need to pass beneath the bridge

And here we have it!

And here we have it!

Isn't she a beauty?

Isn’t she a beauty?

Here's a small clue

Here’s a small clue

I love these tall masted beauties!

I love these tall masted beauties!

James Cook was a local lad and is widely feted in this part of the world.  HM Bark Endeavour took him on the first of three voyages of discovery in the Pacific Ocean.  He sailed thousands of miles of largely uncharted waters, mapping New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii for the British Navy.  He died in Hawaii in 1779, leaving behind a huge legacy of scientific and geographical knowledge.

HMS Bark Endeavour has the company of some smaller craft

HMS Bark Endeavour has the company of some smaller craft

And a whole load of swans!

And a whole load of swans!

So hard to resist boat shots!

So hard to resist boat shots!

Not so sure about the mural

There’s a mural disguising the multi-storey car park

But now it's time to cross over the bridge

But now it’s time to cross over the Millenium bridge

Looking back at the boats and Thornaby railway bridge

Looking back- the Princess river cruiser and Thornaby railway bridge

Those clouds are still lurking!

While the clouds lurk overhead!

We’re heading back towards the Infinity Bridge.  On the far shore of the Tees there are numerous office complexes and we thread our way through them, passing poorly maintained canals.

Under bridges and over bridges

Under bridges and over bridges

And here we are again

Till we burst into the light again!

You could play with the angles all day

You could play with the angles all day

But look behind you.  A storm's a-brewing!

But look behind you. A storm’s a-brewing!

One last look to the heavens

One last look to the heavens

And it's time to quickly cross!

And it’s time to quickly cross!

You know your way back from here, don’t you, and it’s not far.  Maybe a coffee in the White Water Centre, or there’s a pub along at the Tees Barrage.  The easiest access is undoubtedly by car, but you could do the walk from Stockton, which is well served by buses and trains.

I’m not going to be walking with you next week.  I hope to be on a different riverbank- the Seine. I could schedule a walk but I prefer not to.  The joy in my Monday feature comes from sharing, and responding to your lovely comments, and I won’t have time to do that in Paris.  Feel free to explore a little without me, but report back, won’t you?

Two more things before I go.  I noticed that my friend Marianne, from East of Malaga, is featuring Bridges in her CBBH challenge this month.  We’ve been friends for the longest time but I seldom have time to visit.  I’m hoping she won’t mind if I include a link to my walk this week.  It certainly features bridges, doesn’t it?  A condition of the CBBH challenge is to introduce 2 of your friends to Marianne.  I will certainly do that with my links below.

Speaking of friends, and I’ve made so many of you on here, I know that I will be walking in the footsteps of Christine at least some of the time next week.  I couldn’t go without one last tribute.

 

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I hope you’ll find some time to visit my lovely walking friends now.  Put that kettle on!

Jude has found me a mill and a lovely public garden in Gatehouse of Fleet   :

The Gatehouse of Fleet

The Travel Bunny, Suzanne, has gelato on her mind.  It must be the weather!  :

Pisa- Much more than a Leaning Tower

Drake found some long haired cattle to walk with us this week.  He always has fun!  :

On the West  (not the Wild West!)

It will be very tempting to sit down on Amy’s walk this week, but you might need a cushion  :

Spanish tiles

That’s it for now!  See you in two weeks time.  Happy walking!

Gracious living, Victorian style

Your genial host, Robert Ropner

Your genial host, Robert Ropner

It’s always nice to be made welcome and Preston Park Museum  does this with real warmth and imagination.  There’s even a welcoming speech, delivered by our host, glass in hand.

Built in 1825, Preston Hall was purchased by wealthy shipping magnate Robert Ropner in 1882. Major alterations added a grand entrance porch and Winter Garden, ballroom and billiards room, the whole enclosed in beautifully landscaped gardens, befitting his social status.  Ropner served as Conservative MP for Stockton from 1900-1910.  Life was exceedingly grand and a fleet of servants kept the household running smoothly.

Ropner died, aged 85, in 1924 and the hall and park were subsequently purchased by Stockton Council.  Preston Hall Museum opened its doors to the public in 1953.  As a small girl I can remember being taken there.  The house itself was a warren of rooms, stuffed full of Victorian furniture, and with the addition of a Victorian street.

The museum was beginning to look a little tired when Stockton Council acquired funding for a massive renovation.  In 2012 there was a grand reopening.  I wasn’t at all sure what I would find.

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But I found myself immensely impressed.  The house was light and bright, with beautifully showcased and hugely varied exhibits.  Here are just a few of my favourites.

Fabulous pottery

Fabulous pottery

Beautiful glassware

Beautiful glassware

Exquisite fabrics and jewellery

Exquisite fabrics and jewellery

Exotic sword guards

Exotic sword guards

Delicate cameos

Delicate cameos

Remember the snuff box? Here's another!

Remember the snuff box from Six word Saturday? Here’s another!

Touches of humour illuminate the commentary as you walk through the house, nor are they the only source of illumination.

This stained glass is from a former Methodist church in Stockton

This stained glass is from a former Methodist church in Stockton

There is so much that I could share, but I don’t want to spoil it for you, in case you ever go there. It’s like a Pandora’s Box of Victoriana, with each room a new delight as you wind up through the house.  There’s a nod to shipping, on which Ropner built his fortune.  A local cabinet maker’s craft is showcased.  Even some worn but lovely Victorian scrapbooks are there.  I’d quite forgotten the art!

Naturally our railway heritage is celebrated.  This is the home of steam, and a famous journey took place locally on 27th September, 1825.

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Overall I felt really proud of our accomplishments here in the north east of England.  Afterwards I took myself for a stroll in the grounds and down to the River Tees.

I loved the reflections in the water and that hint of blue sky

I loved the reflections in the water and that hint of blue sky

The aviary used to be full of birds, now mysteriously flown!

The aviary used to be full of birds, all mysteriously flown!
I watched a remote control aeroplane for a while- can you spot it?

Then I watched a remote control aeroplane for a while- can you spot it?

This post is a follow up to my Six word Saturday and I’m afraid the subject isn’t quite closed yet. The Victorian Street will have to be a subject for another day.  Then there’s the Butterfly House, which doesn’t open until March.  You will come back, won’t you?

I almost forgot to say that admission to the museum costs just £2 (£1 if you’re a concession!) and includes return visits for a full year.  How about that for value?