Coordinates: 54°33′20″N 1°18′18″W / 54.5556°N 1.3049°W / 54.5556; -1.3049

Thornaby-on-Tees is located in North Yorkshire

 Thornaby-on-Tees shown within North Yorkshire
Population 22,620 
OS grid reference NZ450180
Unitary authority Stockton-on-Tees
Ceremonial county North Yorkshire
Region North East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district TS17
Dialling code 01642
Police Cleveland
Fire Cleveland
Ambulance North East
EU Parliament North East England
UK Parliament Stockton South
List of places: UK • England • Yorkshire

Thornaby-on-Tees is a town and civil parish within the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees, in the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire, England. It is on the south bank of the River Tees, three miles (5 km) southeast of Stockton-on-Tees, and four miles (7 km) southwest of Middlesbrough town centre and has a population of 22,620.



Early history

Thornaby is said to have come into existence about AD 800 when the land was given by Halfdene, King of the Danes, to Thormod, one of his noblemen, hence "Thormods-by" - Thormod's village.

Prehistoric settlement

There are other signs of Thornaby being a much older settlement. Traces of prehistoric man have been found, the earliest being a stone axe, 8 inches long, dating back to the Mesolithic Period (about 3000 BC). In 1926 a dugout canoe said to date from about 1600 – 1400 BC was found in the mud under 8 feet (2.4 m) of water opposite Thornaby High Wood. An arrowhead of the Neolithic Period (about 3000 BC) was found in a garden on Thornaby Village Green.

Norman era

During the Battle of Hastings (1066), one of William the Conqueror's noblemen, Robert I de Brus, marched north with a garrison of men and occupied the area of Cleveland. William gave him those lands to control including Thornaby and Middlesbrough.

Danish invasion and the Domesday Book

The then King of Denmark, Sweyn, on 9 September 1069 defeated the Normans at York by killing the entire garrison of 3,000 men. William swore an oath to take revenge on Sweyn by destroying every house and dwelling in the lands under Sweyn's rule, leaving all the land in the north east of Yorkshire barren and bare.

In the Domesday Book Thornaby is mentioned five times with four different spellings, Tormozbi, Turmozbi, Thurmozbi and Tormozbia. Thornaby's first mention in the Domesday Book states:- "Robert Malet has these lands and they are waste." It appears that they remained undeveloped until the early 19th century as "Thurnaby waaste" is mentioned in a poem by Tennyson called "The Northern Farmer.".

Town formation

Over the centuries there have been a number of different spellings of the name Thornaby including Turmozbi, Tormozbi, Tormozbia and Thurmozbi. The form Thornaby first appears in 1665 and refers to old Thornaby village near the River Tees. In 1825, Thornaby, centred around St Peter's Church and the old village green was gradually overshadowed by the burgeoning newly named town of South Stockton which was two miles away. South Stockton was on the Yorkshire side of the river Tees opposite Stockton-on-Tees, the name of this area originally being Mandale which was noted as a separate settlement from Thornaby. It was not until the local government act of 1863 that the district of South Stockton officially came into being. In 1825 South Stockton became the site of William Smiths pottery and the area quickly grew with the establishment of shipbuilding and engineering. Stockton Council made two attempts to take over the local board of South Stockton, first in 1869 and again in 1883, but without success. On 6 October 1892 South Stockton and Old Thornaby merged into one to form the municipal borough of Thornaby-on-Tees.

The church of St. Peter ad Vincula is in the Diocese of York

Parish church

The Anglican parish church on the village green is believed to be of 12th century origin but a place of worship is said to have existed at the time of the Domesday Book of 1086. The unusual dedication to St. Peter ad Vincula ("St. Peter in chains") is derived from the ancient Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome. The building, with a simple nave and a bell turret with two bells, was originally dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. Grace Pace, the mother of Captain James Cook, was baptised at St. Peter's in 1702.[citation needed]

Story of the Five Lamps

It is said that Robert de Thormodbi, wounded in the Crusades at Acre, swore to raise a shrine to the Virgin Mary if he survived his wounds. He did, and as part of his wish a shrine niche to the Virgin Mary, lit by five sanctuary lamps, was placed in St. Peter's Church.

Civic history

Thornaby lies within the historic county boundaries of Yorkshire, and it was made a municipal borough of the North Riding of Yorkshire in 1892.[1] Thornaby-on-Tees lost its independence when it was amalgamated with other areas such as Middlesbrough, Redcar and Stockton-on-Tees in 1968 to form the county borough of Teesside, and then in 1974 it became part of the borough of Stockton-on-Tees in the new non-metropolitan county of Cleveland. Although on the opposite side of the River Tees and in a different county, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council approached Thornaby-on-Tees Borough Council on several occasions over the years with a view to an amalgamation between the two authorities, however, these ideas were refused outright by Thornaby-on-Tees Borough Council.

In 1995 Thornaby Town Council was reformed within the borough of Stockton-on-Tees.

Cleveland County (1974–1996) was abolished in 1996 under the Banham review, with Stockton-on-Tees becoming a unitary authority. Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is the only authority in the country to be split between two Ceremonial Counties, County Durham to the north of the River Tees, and North Yorkshire to the south of the Tees (though because it straddles the Thames, the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames lies partly in the historic County of Middlesex - which no longer exists except as a county cricket club - and partly in the historic County of Surrey).

Royal Air Force

The earliest known flying in Thornaby took place in 1912 when Matthew Young of the Vale Farm was paid 100 Gold Sovereigns for the use of a field for an airshow. Taking place on a Saturday afternoon in June or July, one of the main events was flying by Gustav Hamel, an early flying pioneer. The next known use was by the Royal Flying Corps who used the same fields between 1914 and 1918 as a staging post between Catterick and Marske aerodromes.

In about 1925 negotiations began on the opening of a full-time aerodrome and in the late 1920s the Air Ministry constructed an airfield to the south of the town and the station which was the second permanent aerodrome to be built in Yorkshire (the first being Catterick) was opened on 29 September 1929. During World War II, Thornaby came under the control of 18 group, Coastal Command, prior to this however it had come under Flying Training, Fighter and Bomber Commands, and post-war under Reserve and Fighter Commands, at this time (post-war) it was also used by the Royal Air Force Regiment. During the war a variety of tasks were carried out from RAF Thornaby, such as, attacks on targets in Europe, anti submarine patrols, operational training, strikes against enemy shipping, leaflet dropping and air sea rescue operations.

The last aircraft to leave R.A.F. Thornaby (Hawker Hunter F6s) left on 1 October 1958 and hope faded for the further use of Thornaby as a regional airport on 23 February 1962 when all but 60 acres (240,000 m2) of land was purchased from the Air Ministry by Thornaby-on-Tees Borough Council. Work began almost immediately on transforming the airfield and throughout the 1960s and 1970s it was extensively redeveloped with modern housing, a shopping centre, sports centre and an industrial estate (the first in the region).

Today many symbols of Thornaby's aeronautical past remain with streets, buildings and pubs using names of RAF aircraft, stations and personnel. The Bader School (built on the former airfield) on Kintyre Drive was named after and opened by Sir Douglas Bader on 10 November 1971. In 1976 a stained glass window in St Paul's Church on Thornaby Road was dedicated to the RAF at Thornaby. In 1997 a statue was erected on Thornaby Road, it is dedicated to all who served at RAF Thornaby. In 2007 a full-size replica Spitfire aircraft was erected on the roundabout at the junction of Thornaby Road, Bader Avenue and Trenchard Avenue. Hidden beneath the roundabout is part of one of the three runways which used to run east to west.

On 10 November 2011 an R.A.F. Search and Rescue Sea King Helicopter paid a three hour visit to Bader primary to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sir Douglas Bader opening the school. The day of activities included a visit by representatives from RAF Leeming, the Commanding Officer at Catterick Garrison, Middlesbrough Armed Forces Careers Office and the Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team.

608 (North Riding) squadron

Of all the squadrons to have been based at RAF Thornaby during its operational period, "Thornaby's own" 608 (North Riding) squadron is probably the squadron best remembered by the townsfolk. It was formed here on 17 March 1930 and went on to carry out sterling service during World War Two within both Coastal and Bomber Commands. After the war, on 10 May 1946 the squadron was re-formed at Thornaby and carried on in Reserve Command "at home" until the squadron disbanded for the last time on 10 March 1957. 608 (North Riding) Squadron's Standard, which was approved by the Queen and bears their battle honours, can be seen housed in York Minster under the Astronomical Clock where it was laid-up on 14 November 1959. The numerous items of glass and silverware which were presented to the squadron during their service are held by Middlesbrough Council, are housed in Middlesbrough Town Hall and are to be returned to the squadron should it ever re-form.

Present day

The town is served by Thornaby railway station.It is home to Durham University's Queen's Campus. This campus lies on the southern bank of the Tees on the Yorkshire side in Thornaby-on-Tees, so although it is part of Durham University, it is not in County Durham. Durham University was the second university to be approached due to Teesside University (who were first approached) not having the funds available necessary to run the university. Adjacent to the Queen's College campus of Durham University is "Stockton Riverside College", a major provider of Further Education in the Tees Valley with around 10,000 full & part-time students. It too is not in Stockton, it actually lies on the southern banks of the river Tees in Thornaby on Tees.

As of 2007, Thornaby is undergoing a major redevelopment and regeneration. The old Mandale Estate is being demolished and Mandale Park is being built to provide new affordable housing. The Pavilion shopping centre, off Allensway in Thornaby New Town, has been redeveloped and was completed in autumn 2009. It is said to have created around 200 jobs and improved leisure, economic and environmental aspects of local life.[citation needed] An official launch event was held in the Thornaby New Town town centre on Saturday 25 April 2009. There is a council owned Leisure Centre and Library, several banks, Post office, Medical Practice, chemists, Asda supermarket, many other shops and a small market on Thursdays. Since the redevelopment the interest in the town centre has significantly increased.[citation needed].

Thornaby won a number of awards in 2008; it won the silver gilt award for best small cities, with its Northumbria in Bloom entry, which was repeated in 2011. Thornaby Cemetery has won the green flag award and is continuing to improve after winning the Cemetery of the Year award in 2006. Despite this status having been lost in 2006, due to complaints concerning illicit use of the cemetery, the Green Flag status was restored by 2011.

Teesside Park is also in Thornaby; it was formerly a racecourse and is now a shopping park.

Thornaby held its fourth Yorkshire Day event in August 2011.

For more information on Thornaby Yorkshire day event contact Thornaby Town Council. This is not an event advertised by Stockton Borough Council.

The annual Thornaby Show takes place at the beginning of September, it is estimated that more than 10,000 people turn up over the course of the day.

Notable people

Grace Pace (the mother of Captain James Cook),[2] the novelist Pat Barker, actor, Richard Griffiths and ventriloquist, Dean Atkinson were all born in Thornaby, as well as Paul Curran - the championship cyclist. Norma Farnes was born and bred in Thornaby. She went to London and ended up as Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes manager. Norma has edited and wrote several successful books. Local musicians include Dean Henderson, who was known as the youngest professional drummer at the age of 15. He went on to work with many famous artists throughout his 20 year career including John Headley, Sting, Tom Jones, Mick Hucknell to name a few. He also started work at Teesbeat recording studio with his good friend Dimmer Blackwell. Henderson now lives in California after moving to the US after a tour with the Crazy River band.

The Spitfire on Thornaby Road

In 1984 Argyll acquired the Thornaby-based Amos Hinton plc which operated 55 supermarkets under the Hinton's name in the North East of England, Cumbria and Yorkshire. Although the Hintons name remained above the door, Hintons' own brand products were quickly replaced with Presto brands as well as Argyll's "Basics" low price brand.

The Hinton's building in Thornaby had to be demolished due to an arson attack in May 1994, the site now host a mid range cost housing estate.

Holly Hagan, part of the Geordie Shore cast, lives in the town.


Thornaby is served by two secondary schools; St Patrick's Catholic College and Thornaby Academy.

Teesdale in Thornaby-on-Tees, immediately across the river Tees from Stockton-on-Tees, is the location of the two colleges, Stevenson and John Snow, which form the Queen's Campus site of Durham University. It is also the location of Stockton Riverside College which, with about 10,000 full & part-time students, is one of the major Further Education suppliers of the Tees Valley.

These colleges are built on the former heavy industrial and ship building area of Thornaby which was demolished in the late 1980s. Head Wrightsons named the area their "Teesdale" site and long after they left Thornaby the name has stayed with that area of the town.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Captain James Cook 1728 - 1779: Early Life". The Captain Cook Birthplace Museum. 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 

External links

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