Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Stockton on Tees - a wasted opportunity

Former industrial areas can be transformed into attractive tourist
spots. Look at Glasgow's riverside and Leith. Liverpool is another that
has transformed with restaurants, conference facilities and more.

After a week camping in beautiful Northumberland I dragged my young
family to Stockton on Tees to a camp site that received an enthusiastic
review from Dom Jolly. For a couple of days we planned to use this site
as a central location for day trips to North Yorks, Hartlepool Maritime
Museum, the cinema and bowling.

The Caravan Club camp site was pristine with first class showers. The
cooling towers, sewage works, overhead flight path and motorway didn't
put us off too much (!) although it was quite a contrast with Hadrian's
Wall country.

What was truly disappointing was how millions of pounds of investment in
the development of the Tees barrage and riverfront had been wasted.
There were new bridges, walkways and the creation of a permanent high
tide for the full gamut of water sports.

This was a real opportunity to turn a depressed town into a bright
attraction. Yet when we visited there few boats and canoes in the water,
walkers on the bridges and walkways or foodies in the few pubs and

Instead the river was full of rubbish, the walkways were full of weeds
and the only wildlife I saw was a rat.

The investment had been a fine one but come on Stockton get your act


  1. It's not just Stockton, but the whole Teesside area in which opportunities have been wasted, regeneration has been badly thought out and not enough done to revitalise the area Willie. Stockton is a fine example - I've spent a lot of time there over the years, but down the river through Middlesbrough and out to Redcar, the whole area is a sad indictment of Labour's broken promises. The area is a metaphor for 12 year's of Labour - a wasted opportunity, as you rightly point out. And these were their 'heartlands', apparently.

  2. Of course, what you have to rememember is making something look nice does not regenerate it. It should not be about getting more tourists in, but about making it a better place for the people who live there, and unfortunately it is just too expensive for most people to use the wonderful facilities provided by Tees Barage on a regular basis. Simply making the front of the town presentable does not change the fortunes of the town centre behind it.