It was a scene that sent shockwaves through Stockton-on-Tees. On the evening of April 23, 2013, flames erupted from the iconic Godwins Furniture store on Norton Road, engulfing the three-story building in a ferocious inferno.

The first report of the fire came from a member of staff from a nearby business who reported smoke coming from the Godwin’s garage. Staff from a nearby car sales pitch had seen someone leave the premises followed by smoke a short time later. The building was locked and secure when firefighters arrived.

Witnesses described hearing loud bangs and seeing flames leap high into the night sky, casting an eerie orange glow over the town centre.

More than 40 firefighters from across Cleveland were scrambled to the scene, arriving to find the building well alight. Battling intense heat and hazardous conditions, they worked tirelessly for eight hours to bring the blaze under control.

The fire caused extensive damage to the historic building, which had been a fixture of Stockton’s retail scene for over 40 years. Sadly, the beloved furniture store was ultimately deemed beyond repair and was later demolished. Arson investigators were unable to safely access the building, and as a result it was impossible to say how the fire started.

The fire wasn’t just a blow to the local economy; it was also a personal tragedy for the Godwin family, who had run the business since 1972. Father and son Ike and Michael Godwin watched in disbelief as their life’s work went up in smoke and vowed to rebuild.

The fire at Godwins Furniture may be a fading memory for some, but for those who witnessed it firsthand, it remains a stark reminder of the destructive power of fire and the bravery of those who risk their lives to fight it.

Last Updated on 7 February 2024