WE'RE wide-eyed with wonder at Stockton High Street in the early 1960s. Our panoramic picture shows a very natural collection of buildings that he grown up – different ideas, different shapes – gradually over time, but almost as soon as the shutter closed, practically every building in this picture – with the exception of the distant town hall – was swept away and replaced with square and unfeeling 1960s blocks.

This is the south end of the High Street taken on July 5, 1962. It is one of the very first "wide-eye" views in the packet which we have recently rediscovered in The Northern Echo's archive. An Echo cameraman had acquired a "wide-eye" lens, as he called it, and was trying it out on townscapes.

On the left hand side is the Grey Horse pub which was demolished in 1975. Next to it is the Odeon cinema, which had opened in 1935 in one of those white-bricked buildings so typical of its day. The main attraction on the day the picture was taken was Pocketful of Miracles, a 1961 film starring Bette Davis. The Odeon was replaced in 1968 by a characterless cinema which in recent times has been a nightclub with many different names.

On the right hand side of the street, the big building with the double decker buses outside is Doggarts, one of 17 branches of this fair-dealing family firm of drapers which was based in Bishop Auckland. Next comes the big white Royal Hotel, beside which is CW Laws' drapery shop – a name associated with Stockton for much of the 20th Century.

There had obviously been some recent drama in this stretch of buildings as a big sign above Hintons minimarket, beside Laws', says: "Due to fire damage customers place use our branch at 72-74 Yarm Lane". Its neighbour, the Castle Hat Shop, is also firmly shut.

All of this run of buildings was demolished in 1968 to make way for the Castlegate Centre, designed by notorious architect John Poulson. It opened in 1972 and the following year Poulson was jailed for taking backhanders from councils although there was no evidence that there was anything untoward about the Stockton development. Except, perhaps, the way it looked (although the interior of the food hall, with its mezzanine level and balcony, is not unpleasant). The whole lot is due to be demolished in 2022 and replaced with a riverside park, which looks very appealing.

Perhaps when the site is cleared, more will be revealed of the Norman castle that once stood here. Perhaps some of its ghosts will be finally laid to rest – this is said to be one of the most haunted corners of the Tees Valley.

And finally, aren't those sweet ornamental gardens, surrounded by nice fencing, outside Hintons and the hat shop. But this is a July picture – where have all the flowers gone?

If our wide-eyed picture brings back any memories, or you have any information about any aspect of it, please email chris.lloyd@nne.co.uk