Last updated

  • Thornaby
Town and civil parish
River Tees - - 371212.jpg
Footbridge at the Tees Barrage - - 2829764.jpg
Thornaby Town Hall March 2015 3.jpg
Infinity Bridge.jpg
From the top, Thornaby from across the River Tees, Tees Barrage, Town Hall, Infinity Bridge
North Yorkshire UK location map (2023).svg
Red pog.svg
Location within North Yorkshire
Population24,741 (2011 census) [1]
OS grid reference NZ450180
Civil parish
  • Thornaby
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district TS17
Dialling code 01642
Police Cleveland
Fire Cleveland
Ambulance North East
UK Parliament
Website Town council website
List of places
54°33′31″N1°18′09″W / 54.5585°N 1.3025°W / 54.5585; -1.3025

Thornaby-on-Tees, commonly referred to as Thornaby, is a town and civil parish on the River Tees's southern bank. It is in the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, England. The parish had a population of 24,741 at the 2011 census, in the Teesside built-up area. [1] [2]


The town was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1892, during the Victorian era. The borough was abolished in 1968 on the creation of the County Borough of Teesside. Since 1974 Thornaby has formed part of the re-established borough of Stockton-on-Tees. A civil parish called Thornaby was re-created in 1996.

The modern centre was built on the north eastern part of Thornaby airfield and lies 2 miles (3.2 km) south-east of Stockton-on-Tees and 4 miles (6.4 km) south-west of Middlesbrough. [3]



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 metres) of water opposite Thornaby High Wood. An arrowhead of the Neolithic Period (about 3000 BC) was found in a garden on Thornaby Village Green.


The name Thornaby came into existence about AD 800 when the land was given by Halfdene (Halfdan Ragnarsson), King of the Danes, to Thormod, one of his noblemen, hence "Thormods-by" – Thormod's farmstead. [4] Although the -by suffix originally meant a farmstead, many of these grew into villages, taking the -by suffix with them in their names as with other villages in the area, such as Danby, Faceby, Ingleby, Maltby and Ormesby. [5]

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.

King Sweyn II of Denmark, 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, 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.".

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, south western area of the present town which is near the River Tees as it flows north east.

The Five Lamps of St Peter's Church

St Peter ad Vincula Church Thornaby Old St Peters.jpg
St Peter ad Vincula Church

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. [6]

A town from the marshes

The former marshes
Queen's Campus Stockton - - 10982.jpg
Stockton-on-Tees map.svg
North Thornaby next to Stockton

In 1825, old Thornaby was centred around St Peter's Church and the old village green. Thornaby Carrs (marshes) had been a site of intermittent horse racing before moving to the now former Stockton Racecourse after the River Tees was straightened in 1810, a short distance down stream. From 1825, industry started to be built south of Stockton's existing port industry as Stockton and Darlington Railway had been established, old Stockton railway station being just on the other side of the bank. The first site was William Smith's pottery with the area quickly growing with shipbuilding and engineering companies established on the marshes. From 1840 until June 1987 heavy engineering firm Head Wrightson was a major employer in Thornaby.

The area developing on the south bank of the Tees opposite Stockton was initially known as South Stockton. As Stockton's port industry moved to Middlesbrough, shipbuilding was replaced by iron works. A new railway line opened up the area south of the river for further development, with a South Stockton railway station built in 1882.

The new settlement grew as a work force for new industry, spreading south down and between Thornaby Road, the new Westbury Street, and Mandale Road (once known as Acklam Road). The built-up area of South Stockton grew to merge with the old village of Thornaby; on 6 October 1892 South Stockton and Thornaby formally merged to form a municipal borough which was named Thornaby-on-Tees. South Stockton station was renamed to Thornaby. Thornaby Town Hall was built for the old South Stockton Local Board, and was completed in 1892 a few months before the board was replaced by the new borough council.

The airfield, 608 squadron and Spitfires

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) [7] was opened on 29 September 1929. During the Second World War, Thornaby came under the control of 18 group, Coastal Command, before 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.

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 at Thornaby on 17 March 1930 and went on to serve within both Coastal and Bomber Commands during the Second World War. 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.

Acquiring inland areas

The last R.A.F aircraft to leave the airfield (Hawker Hunter F6s) left on 1 October 1958 and further use of Thornaby as a regional airport on 23 February 1962 ended when all but 60 acres (24 hectares) of land was purchased from the Air Ministry by Thornaby-on-Tees Borough Council.

As Thornaby changed hand to the County Borough of Teesside (1968–1974) then, on its third attempt, into the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees (this was initially as a district of Cleveland county). Development in the 1960s and 1970s on transforming the airfield, demolishing its buildings, into housing, shops, offices, a sport centre and a light industrial estate, the light industrial estate was the first in the wider area and therefore called Teesside Industrial Estate.

Many symbols of Thornaby's aeronautical past were placed for prosperity with streets (such as Allensway), buildings and public houses using names of Royal Air Force 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 and in 1997 a statue was erected on Thornaby Road, it is dedicated to all who served at RAF Thornaby.

The Spitfire on Thornaby Road The Spitfire on Thornaby Road.jpg
The Spitfire on Thornaby Road

In 2007 a full-size replica Supermarine 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 a runway (one of three) which used to run east to west.

Rise and fall of Pavilion towers

Thornaby town centre declined post war with deindustrialation and the town's population centre shifting south east on to the old airfield. Facilities followed as the new Pavilion shops opened and the old centre cut off by the A66. The former Industry around the old Thornaby Carrs centre became Teesdale Business Park leaving the station and town hall out of place in the new surroundings.

All four buildings (the two flats, hotel and offices) at a various stages of being demolished and replaced. Trenchard Avenue, Thornaby-on-Tees - - 3279661.jpg
All four buildings (the two flats, hotel and offices) at a various stages of being demolished and replaced.

In the late 2000s, Thornaby Pavilion was designated as the new town centre. Housing around the shops were cleared and new shops built opposite the older shops to form a pedestrian high street. An official relaunch event was held in the now Thornaby town centre on 25 April 2009. High rises flats in the town centre have been demolished and with the towns fund, they are plans for the former Npower offices site are planned to be demolished and a replacement for Thornaby Pool, an indoor baths on Thornaby Road, built in its place. [8] The former Golden Eagle Hotel is also to be demolished.

Community and culture

Thornaby won a number of awards in 2008; the silver gilt award for best small cities, Northumbria in Bloom, which was repeated in 2011. Thornaby Cemetery had Cemetery of the Year award in 2006. The cemetery had lost then lost its Green flag award until 2011.

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.

Thornaby held its eleventh Yorkshire Day event in August 2017. 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.

In January 2014 a McDonald's and Asda opened on the site of the former Tristar Neasham site. Teesside Park is the location of a shopping park which occupies a former racecourse.


There are two tiers of local government covering Thornaby, at parish (town) and unitary authority level: Thornaby Town Council and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council. The borough council is also a constituent member of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, which is led by the directly elected Mayor of Tees Valley. The town council is based at the Town Hall on Mandale Road. [9]

Thornaby was historically a township and chapelry in the ancient parish of Stainton in the North Riding of Yorkshire. [10] A local government district called South Stockton was established covering the northern part of the township in 1863, governed by a local board. [11] In 1892 the South Stockton Local Board was abolished when a municipal borough was created covering the whole township of Thornaby, with the new borough being named "Thornaby-on-Tees". [12] [13] It was amalgamated with other areas in 1968 to form the county borough of Teesside. In 1974, the town became part of the enlarged Stockton-on-Tees district of Cleveland non-metropolitan county.

Thornaby Town Council was created in 1995. [14] [15] Cleveland county was abolished in 1996 under the Banham review. In 1997 the parts of the abolished county of Cleveland south of the River Tees, including Thornaby, were placed in North Yorkshire for ceremonial purposes. [16] [17]

Thornaby Town Hall Thornaby Town Hall - - 323998.jpg
Thornaby Town Hall

In 2012 the town council purchased Thornaby Town Hall from the borough council for restorations. The hall, dating back to 1890–92, had been unoccupied since the 1968 county borough of Teesside amalgamation. It is now the main building used by Thornaby Town Council. [18] [19]


Church of England

Church of St Paul the Apostle, Thornaby - - 1671057.jpg
St. Peter's Church, Thornaby - - 79586.jpg
St Paul the Apostle and St Peter ad Vincula churches, Archdeaconry of Cleveland, Diocese of York, Province of York

The Church of St Peter ad Vincula on the village green is of 12th-century origin but a place of worship 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. [20] The larger St Paul's serves most of the town.


Acklam Road

Thornaby Cricket Club is situated at Mandale Bottoms (Acklam Road) and has been in existence since 1892. The main teams are in the North Yorkshire and South Durham Cricket League.

Teesside Golf Club opened in 1901. It is in of the Teesside and District Union of Golf Clubs and therefore the Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs [21] [22]

Thornaby FC play in the Northern League Division one. It was established as 'Thornaby' in 2000. The club play at Teesdale Park ground, Acklam Road. [23]

Thornaby Road

Thornaby and Ingleby Barwick Football Club (TIBS FC) play in the North Riding Football League division one, it was established in 1997. The club play at a grounds off Thornaby Road and train at Conyers School. [24]



The town is served by Thornaby railway station, operated and owned by Northern, who operate rail services to Newcastle, Sunderland, Darlington, Redcar, Hexham and Whitby. TransPennine Express provides direct rail services to Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and York. LNER also provides a direct rail service to York and London Kings Cross [25]


Victoria Bridge Thornaby 2015.jpg
Snow-bound A1130 at Thornaby Cemetery (view north-west) - - 1627634.jpg
Victoria Bridge & A1130 (north-bound)

Thornaby is served by

Public Services

Arriva North East and Stagecoach provide bus services to Thornaby and National Express and Megabus operate coach travel from Middlesbrough bus station.



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


Thornaby is home is Stockton Riverside College, a major provider of further education in the Tees Valley with around 10,000 full & part-time students. It is labelled Stockton due to it being in or near the former Stockton South settlement, which lied on the southern banks of the river Tees (Yorkshire) and merged into Thornaby on Tees.


Adjacent to the college is Durham University's Queen's Campus. This was founded in 1992 as a joint venture between Durham and Teesside universities, becoming exclusively part of Durham University in 1998. [26] In 2019, the university moved the Queen's Campus colleges and departments to Durham city, and repurposed the campus as a new International Study Centre, run by Study Group. [27]

Notable people

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">North Yorkshire</span> County of England

North Yorkshire is a ceremonial county in the Yorkshire and the Humber and North East regions of England. It borders County Durham to the north, the North Sea to the east, the East Riding of Yorkshire to the south-east, South Yorkshire to the south, West Yorkshire to the south-west, and Cumbria and Lancashire to the west. Northallerton is the county town.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yarm</span> Town and civil parish in North Yorkshire, England

Yarm, also referred to as Yarm-on-Tees, is a market town and civil parish in the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, England. It is in Teesdale with a town centre on a small meander of the River Tees. To the south-east, it extends to the River Leven, to the south it extends into the Kirklevington.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stockton-on-Tees</span> Town in County Durham, England

Stockton-on-Tees is a market town in County Durham, England, with a population of 84,815 at the 2021 UK census. It gives its name to and is the largest settlement in the wider Borough of Stockton-on-Tees. It is part of Teesside and the Tees Valley, on the northern bank of the River Tees.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Middlesbrough</span> Town in North Yorkshire, England

Middlesbrough is a town in the Middlesbrough unitary authority borough of North Yorkshire, England. The town lies near the mouth of the River Tees and north of the North York Moors National Park. The built-up area had a population of 148,215 at the 2021 UK census. It is the largest town of the wider Teesside area, which had a population of 376,633 in 2011.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">North Riding of Yorkshire</span> Third of a historic county in England

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Teesside</span> Conurbation in England

Teesside is a built-up area around the River Tees in North East England, split between County Durham and North Yorkshire. The area contains the towns of Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Billingham, Redcar, Thornaby-on-Tees, and Ingleby Barwick. Teesside's economy was once dominated by heavy manufacturing until deindustrialisation in the latter half of the 20th century. Chemical production continues to contribute significantly to Teesside's economy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Borough of Stockton-on-Tees</span> Unitary authority area in County Durham, England

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Billingham</span> Town in County Durham, England

Billingham is a town and civil parish in County Durham, England. The town is on the north side of the River Tees and is governed as part of the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees unitary authority. It had a population of 35,165 in the 2011 Census.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ingleby Barwick</span> Town and civil parish in North Yorkshire, England

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tees Valley</span> Devolved region in Northern England

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stockton-on-Tees (UK Parliament constituency)</span> Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1868–1983

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cleveland (county)</span> Former county of North East England

Cleveland was a non-metropolitan county located in North East England which existed between 1974 and 1996. Cleveland was a two-tier county and had four boroughs: Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough and Langbaurgh-on-Tees. The county town was Middlesbrough, where Cleveland County Council met. The county was named after the historic area of Cleveland, Yorkshire. Its area is now split between the counties of North Yorkshire and County Durham.

Royal Air Force Thornaby, or more simply RAF Thornaby, is a former Royal Air Force Station located in the town of Thornaby-on-Tees, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, England. Fighter Command, Bomber Command and Coastal Command all operated from the base over its history, but its stint under Coastal Command is what the base was notable for, particularly in the air-sea rescue environment and the development of the Thornaby Bag. This was an emergency bag dropped to downed aircrew at sea and contained food, cigarettes and drink.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">County Borough of Teesside</span> Former district in northern England

The County Borough of Teesside was a county borough in the north-east of England, which existed for just six years. It was created in 1968 to cover the Teesside conurbation which had grown up around the various port and industrial towns near the mouth of the River Tees. The council was based in Middlesbrough, the area's largest town. The county borough was abolished in 1974 on the creation of the new county of Cleveland, which covered a larger area, with the county borough's territory being split between three of the four districts created in the new county.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stockton Racecourse</span> Former horse racing site in North Yorkshire, England

Stockton Racecourse, also known as Teesside Park, was a British horse racing venue near Thornaby-on-Tees in the North Riding of Yorkshire England, once considered "the finest in the north". Although named "Stockton Racecourse" there has never been a racecourse within Stockton-on-Tees, these courses were actually located across the River Tees in the North Riding of Yorkshire". In the early 1800s two alteration's were made to the river Tees, the Mandale Cut and the Portrack cut. This caused the land of the racecourse north of the Tees to therefore became North Yorkshire, and the Yorkshire side of the river to become part of County Durham. The largest of these cuts was the Portrack cut. Due to the memory of the land being north of the Tees when the course was named it became Stockton Racecourse.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Middlesbrough</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Church of St Peter ad Vincula, Thornaby-on-Tees</span> Anglican church in North Yorkshire, England

The Church of St Peter ad Vincula, Thornaby, is an Anglican church in Thornaby, North Yorkshire, England. The structure, which is grade II* listed, is dated to the 12th century, replacing an earlier building on the same site. The church is noted for being the supposed baptismal location of Grace Pace, Captain Cook's mother.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thornaby Town Hall</span> Municipal building in Thornaby, North Yorkshire, England

Thornaby Town Hall is a municipal building in the Mandale Road in Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, England. The building, which is owned by Thornaby Town Council, is a Grade II listed building.

The county of Durham has returned 7 MPs to the UK Parliament since 1983. Under the Local Government Act 1972, which came into effect on 1 April 1974, the boundaries of the historic/administrative county were significantly altered with the north-east of the county, comprising more than half the electorate, being transferred to the new metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear. In addition, the borough of Hartlepool was included in the new county of Cleveland. These changes were reflected in the following redistribution of parliamentary seats which did not come into effect until the 1983 general election, resulting in a reduction in the county's representation from 16 to 7 MPs.

The non-metropolitan county of Cleveland was created under the Local Government Act 1972, which came into effect on 1 April 1974, comprising the urban areas around the mouth of the River Tees, previously parts of the administrative counties of Durham and North Riding of Yorkshire. Although it was abolished in 1996, the four unitary authorities which succeeded it have been considered together for the purposes of reviewing parliamentary boundaries. The area has returned 6 MPs to the UK Parliament since 1983.


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