STOCKTON has long been known for having one of the widest – if not the widest – high streets in the country.

This week, came a new accolade when it was named the "rising star" at the Great British High Street Awards – a category for high streets whose economic fortunes are being turned around. Memories knows nothing about shopping, but it does believe that Stockton High Street is a fascinating place to wander – and, indeed, wonder.

Once, as today's aerial photograph shows, the High Street had lots of little streets running east towards the river. But the mad planners of the late 1960s forced the town to turn its back on the Tees, running a fast dual carriageway along the riverbank and plonking a huge, and hideous, shopping mall and hotel on top of the old streets.

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This complex acts as a barrier between town centre and river, and prevents and interaction between the two.

The Northern Echo: WIDE STREET: Looking north up the Stockton in 1967, before the streets on the east side leading to the river were replaced

Looking north up the Stockton in 1967, before the streets on the east side leading to the river were replaced

The planners also allowed several 1960s and 1970s concrete and glass shops to fill in gaps along the High Street, but still there remain some wonderful Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian buildings, many of which are full of character and quirkiness – above No 126, built in 1908, a terracotta tea clipper with billowing sails flies over the top of the ocean waves.

To commemorate the High Street's national success, here we delve into The Northern Echo's photo-archive to see what it looked like in years gone by.

If you have anything to add about any of the pictures, please email chris.lloyd@nne.co.uk