As any student of the industrial revolution will know, Stockton on Tees is celebrated for its association with the birth of railways. On Tuesday 27th September 1825, the world’s first passenger train reached speeds of up to 15mph as it steamed through jubilant crowds along the 25 mile single track from Darlington. At a time where transport was dominated by the coach and canal, this must have been incredible stuff, particularly as the horses that had tried to keep up with Locomotion were left trailing in its wake, long before the train reached Preston Park. That night, as 102 jubilant investors and Council officials sat down for a celebratory dinner in the Town Hall, I wonder if any of them realised the implications of what they had just achieved, and how their foresight and enterprise was about to change the face of the world.
Our town has other claims to industrial fame. While most will have heard of the Darlington/Stockton railway, not so many know that even as George Stephenson drove that first passenger train into the Bridge Road terminal, there was a chemists shop a few hundred yards away where the occupant John Walker was about to solve the long standing problem of creating fire easily. His invention was the friction match. Like many inventors, Walker came across his by accident, although that did not lessen the impact of his triumph and he now rightly has a part of the town named after him.
Stockton grew rapidly with the success of that first railway, and the consequential opening up of the Durham coalfields turned it into a boom town. As the docks and coal exports flourished, new investors arrived gradually extending down the banks of the Tees to create the new town of Middlesbrough.
We can trace the origins of Jacksons to the 19th century. Although the precise date we appeared in Stockton has been lost in time, we do know from old files and documents that the forbears of the current firm had a presence in the High Street in the 1870’s. That’s 150 year’s unbroken association with the town and the people of the town, and I sometimes think about all the major historical events that have occurred throughout this time. Seven monarchs and 36 Prime Ministers, the slaughter of two World Wars, The General Strike and Depression of the 20’s, the flu pandemics, the fluctuations in the economy – in and out of Europe. Then there’s the afternoon of Friday 22nd November 1963 when The Beatles played at the Globe Theatre. Our office was on the opposite side of the High Street in those days and for many years staff recalled the huge crowds of near hysterical youngsters hoping to catch a glimpse of the Fab Four. The occasion became even more poignant when half-an-hour into the concert John F. Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas. History indeed. I was only a child at the time but I remember watching both events on the news that evening.
Being proud of this long association with the town you will imagine our delight when we were notified by the office of the retiring the Mayor, Councillor Maurice Perry, that we were to receive an award to mark the firm’s long standing contribution to the life and economy of the Borough. This honour means so much to everyone here, because we are all local men and women and most of us live in the Borough. The accolade follows in the wake of other awards including Jacksons’ being named as winners at last year’s Northern Law Awards when we won Team of the Year, Property. This year we are finalists in five Northern Law Award categories and have also been shortlisted by the organisers of Insider Property Awards, so these are exciting times. There is a real buzz around the office and everybody just wants to roll up their sleeves.
Geoff Skeoch, Senior Partner at Jacksons Law Firm said, “On behalf of all the partners and staff at Jacksons, I would just like to thank the Mayor, all the councillors and officers of the Town Hall and the chief executive, Neil Schnieder for marking Jacksons out in this way. We are absolutely delighted to receive this award. It means a great deal to us all. While we have no way of knowing what the world will look like in another 150 years, the firm will always cherish our relationship with Stockton Council, who together with some amazing clients and business partners in the Borough have stood with us over the years, and continue to do so.”
Neil Schnieder said, “It’s really important that, in addition to working hard to bring inward investment and new business into the Borough, that The Council appreciates and thanks those long standing businesses who we are proud to have as premier members of our business community and with whom we partner on so many areas of work. That is certainly the case with Jacksons Law Firm. We are delighted that they have recently relocated into their new premises here and look forward to continuing to work closely with them for many more years.”
Geoff Skeoch, Senior Partner, Jacksons Law Firm