North East History: Echo Memories blog with Chris Lloyd


Dales Diary: A shooting, a charging bull, a Mickleton man, and a rescue at High Force

6:06pm Tuesday 6th May 2014

George Towns, a corporal in the Home Guard, went into action quickly when told a suspicious character was in his area during the Second World War. He grabbed a shotgun, ran to challenge the stranger and ended up firing at him.

Wasn't it Majestic?

The Northern Echo: The opening of the Majestic: from the Darlington and Stockton Times, December 24, 1932

3:24pm Monday 27th January 2014

THE news that the Majestic in Bondgate, Darlington, is being restored to something approaching its early 1930s art deco majesty is extremely welcome.

Keeping Darlington railway museum

6:26pm Tuesday 5th November 2013

IT IS unthinkable that a town that calls itself "the birthplace of the railways" should close its railway museum.

How the French threatened Bishop Middleham

The Northern Echo: Bishop Middleham in 1967. People in this inland village still struggle to sleep at night for fear of French invasion

6:24pm Wednesday 8th May 2013


Laying the bogeyman of boggyness to rest

The Northern Echo: Boring on Feethams field in January 1938

7:10pm Thursday 25th April 2013

IT IS great news that the Mowden Hall jobs have been saved and are to move to a new-build block beside Darlington Town Hall and alongside the multiplex development which is about to take wings. There is, though, a spectre that haunts this work. It is a ghoul which could prevent it from happening. It is the bogeyman of boggyness.

Woodburn: "in every way enjoyable"

The Northern Echo: Woodburn, the home of Theodore and Sophia Fry

11:40am Thursday 11th April 2013

WOODBURN is one of the great lost mansions of Darlington. It was built in the 1860s overlooking the valley of the Tees. Now houses in Coniscliffe Road stand on its site, but many of them have features of its exquisite stonework built into them.

Arthur Henderson: a Labour pioneer

The Northern Echo: Arthur Henderson, as mayor of Darlington in 1903-04

3:46pm Wednesday 3rd April 2013

ARTHUR HENDERSON'S Nobel Peace Prize has been stolen from the Guild Hall in Newcastle. Henderson is one of my heroes: the Barnard Castle MP and Darlington mayor who became the first member of the Labour Party to sit in a British Cabinet.

Darlington: a hothouse of design

The Northern Echo: Richardson's thermometer at Bank Top station in 1981

12:25pm Monday 11th March 2013

ONE Memories is over and the next one is already begun. I've had loads of communications regarding Saturday's paper, especially concerning the photographs - front and back - of the Whessoe Road area.

In praise of Priestman

The Northern Echo: From The Northern Echo, August 7, 1941

3:50pm Monday 25th February 2013

IT looks as if Saturday's Memories will have a mention of this fellow, Sir John Priestman, of whom I had never heard until I received a football-related email from Australia.

The rise and fall of William Barningham

The Northern Echo: Possibly William Barningham

11:59am Monday 11th February 2013

SATURDAY'S Memories promised the full tale of William Barningham on here and evemtually here it is...

The rise and fall of William Peachey

The Northern Echo: William Peachey

12:14pm Monday 4th February 2013

I PROMISED in Saturday's Memories to post my version of William Peachey's rise and fall on here and, belatedly, here it is. I wrote it in 2008 when I was asked to help reopen Peachey's Baptist church in Darlington - I gave a little talk from the pulpit, which is not my natural territory.

Those Memories talks in full

6:40am Saturday 15th December 2012

THIS is a list of the Memories talks that are currently available:

Dirigible daze

The Northern Echo: The Northern Echo's picture of the dirigible over St Paul's Cathedral in October 1907

3:20pm Friday 14th December 2012

TOMORROW'S Memories looks at a famous Darlington company's role in building what I believe to be the hangar for Britain's first airship. This story gives me the opportunity to use the word dirigible, which is great.

Sour end to gooseberry story

The Northern Echo: The Robsons' house on Northgate, Darlington

6:40pm Thursday 13th December 2012

THIS is my favourite gooseberry-related story of all time. It gets a mention in Saturday's Memories (15/12/12), but here it is in its entirety which, when I told it in 2001, was so enormous that it spread over two weeks. The sad footnote to the story is that the prized herbarium, enthused over by the professor of botany in 2001, was lost when I enquired of Tyne and Wear Museums about it in 2011. I wonder if the downy currant still grows at Richmond and on the banks of the Tees between Piercebridge and Gainford...

Chequered history of forbidden corner

The Northern Echo: Coniscliffe Hall, right, and St Edwin's vicarage, left (the vicarage is even more fascinating than the hall)

5:14pm Monday 10th December 2012

THE property in the Darlington district that I am asked most frequently about is the tumbledown one behind the iron gates in High Coniscliffe. It's opposite the Spotted Dog, and everybody who passes between Darlo and Barney seems to have an eye on it. For me, though, it is a frustrating place.

Preparing for the bombs to fall

12:00am Saturday 1st December 2012

  TODAY'S Memories builds on recent articles about the Home Guard, and strays into the role of the ARP wardens during the Second World War. I was looking on the Echo's archive for further information about the ARP locally and came across this article from 1989 which I guess was written to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of war. I don't know who wrote it, but it makes fascinating reading. The salutory part of it is that I guess that the 70-somethings that are quoted are, 23 years later, unlikely to still be with us:

Guarding the memories

The Northern Echo: Darlington "Dad's Army" jumping out of the back of Blackwell Grange's estate

7:44pm Monday 26th November 2012

MEMORIES readers never cease to amaze me. So many people have enormous repositories of knowledge acquired over years of research and interest.  I accidentally stumble upon their repositories, steal the best bits and then move on to the next topic.

Woolly beginnings of Blackwell Bridge

The Northern Echo: Blackwell Bridge, with the fascinating tollkeeper's cottage on the right

6:05pm Wednesday 21st November 2012

THIS weekend's Memories (Dec 1) features an article on Bland's Corner at Blackwell, Darlington. One of the roads which creates the corner is the 1830s turnpike from Scotch Corner, which goes over Blackwell Bridge. Below is my article from 1993 about the building of the turnpike road.

A seasonal tree-t at Darlington Arts Centre

The Northern Echo: Fal Sarker with the Strawberry Tree in Darlington Arts Centre

12:22pm Friday 16th November 2012

THIS is my Saturday column from a couple of weeks ago which hasn't made it onto the website, but I am still getting asked about it. The ending is a bit vague because we are trying to get the necessary orders in place, but frustratingly, these things develop as slowly as the strawberry tree grows...

The Baron of Kandahar and Mowden Hall

The Northern Echo: Earl Roberts, Baron of Kandahar and Freeman of Darlington, unveiling the South African War Memorial in St Cuthbert's churchyard on August 5, 1905

8:52pm Thursday 15th November 2012

SATURDAY'S Memories is going to be partly about the history of Darlington's Mowden Hall, which the Department for Education seems to want to vacate because of high overheads.

Anty Richards, the ice cream man of Darlington

The Northern Echo: Angelo Rissetto - the original Anty Richards - on his passport

8:16pm Monday 15th October 2012

ONE of Darlington's most famous names was "Anty Richards". It was above a little cafe close to the Railway Tavern in Northgate. I was always intrigued by it: was it a spelling mistake concerning someone's auntie or was Mr Richards troubled by pesky ants? All became clear when I discovered the phenomenum of the hokey pokey men - ice cream immigrants from Italy.

The flashing-eyed children who found sanctuary in the North-East

The Northern Echo: The Basque refugees arriving at Bank Top station, Darlington, on June 29 1937. They were greeted by the towns mayor Richard Luck who is pictured 2nd from the right wearing a buttonhole.

6:14pm Monday 8th October 2012

Saturday's Memories contains an article about a new book which has been written by Peter O'Brien about the Basque children who fled the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and ended up living in Hutton Hall, near Guisborough. They were part of a contingent of almost 200 children who found sanctuary in the North-East. I wrote about them in 2002, particularly those who were sent to St Peter's Orphanage in Gainford and St Mary's Orphanage in Tudhoe.

Wedding presents fit for a Pease

The Northern Echo: The Northern Echo's headline

11:46am Wednesday 18th July 2012

I WAS at the closing of Darlington Arts Centre the other week and, as I mooched around, became fascinated by the name over the door of a cavernous building out the back: Blanche Pease Hall.

Builder of bridges and divider of pies

4:28pm Wednesday 27th June 2012

John Carr, the 18th Century North Riding Surveyor of Bridges, is one of my favourite chaps - largely because of a great pork pie story, but also because we still cross so many rivers using his bridges.

How the French celebrated the last diamond jubilee

6:50pm Saturday 2nd June 2012

YESTERDAY I noted that this morning's Echo Memories was so jam-packed with fascinating diamond jubilee malarky, that there was no room for the brilliant Blackwell Bridge anniversary.

The 180-year-old bridge built on wool

The Northern Echo: An old picture of Blackwell Bridge with the Yorkshire side toll house on the right

6:39pm Friday 1st June 2012

BLACKWELL BRIDGE has stood for exactly 180 years on a woollen foundation – a remarkable achievement. In fact, as the foundation stone was laid on June 5, 1832, it is an achievement that would normally have been celebrated in Echo Memories. However, this weekend's Memories is jam-packed with Diamond Jubilee malarky and so the bridge is relegated to a paltry #echomems fact. Let's rectify that here.

The Battle of Aycliffe

The Northern Echo: The Aycliffe Diamond Jubilee School

3:09pm Thursday 31st May 2012

THEY are very pleased with themselves in Aycliffe Village in that they have a Double Diamond Jubilee. They are celebrating Queen Elizabeth's 60th anniversary in the village hall which used to be a school which was dedicated to Queen Victoria's 60th anniversary. The brilliant local history society which meets there has informed Buckingham Palace of the happy coincidence, and Her Majesty has sent a letter commending the people of Aycliffe.

A car in Whorlton, 1961

The Northern Echo: The Whorlton fountain, left, but all eyes are on the car

6:50pm Monday 28th May 2012

THIS blog is almost as underemployed as half the country seems to be, and I am sorry about that. There just aren't enough hours in the day, although I do tweet this sort of nonsense on a more regular basis (follow me @echochrislloyd on twitter).

Rectory return

The Northern Echo: Haughton Rectory: reputedly the oldest domestic building in Darlington

9:40pm Friday 4th May 2012

I'M not really bitter, but I thought I took some half-decent pictures of the oldest domestic building in Darlington.

The rain is a pain, but can we gain (reprise)?

The Northern Echo: The rain is a pain, but can we gain (reprise)?

9:07pm Thursday 3rd May 2012

I'VE had several comments about last Saturday's column about the Grand Contour Canal plan of 1942, including one from an angry chap who took it all too literally and said it was disgraceful that I was advocating the sale of North-East water to the south when really I should be demanding that water-intensive businesses should relocate from the south to the wet north.

People of Barney, rise up!

The Northern Echo: People of Barney, rise up!

9:30am Wednesday 25th April 2012

Barnard Castle and Teesdale are rightly celebrating their links with Charles Dickens in the year that the 200th anniversary of his birth is celebrated. As the world probably knows, Dickens stayed at the King's Head Hotel in the centre of Barney for a couple of nights in February 1838 while researching Nicholas Nickleby.

Back to the bridges of Barney

The Northern Echo: The Tees Viaduct in its heyday, with the east abutment on the right

6:28pm Tuesday 24th April 2012

I DRAGGED my family out to look at the east bank of the Tees Viaduct at Barnard Castle at the weekend. After last weekend's excitement of seeing the west abutment, you can tell from the picture that there was unbounded excitement all round.

Astonishing abutments of the Tees

The Northern Echo: The east abutment of the Tees Viaduct, near Barnard Castle

2:16pm Monday 16th April 2012

AT the weekend, I dragged the ever-moaning family for a nice spring walk through a chill wind and hail of sleet showers along the banks of the Tees. They admired the wild primroses along the pathside while I kept my eye open for an extroardinary, hulking remains of the Tees Viaduct just outside Barnard Castle.

Down at the Dolls Hospital

The Northern Echo: Millie Zealand, who ran the Grange Road Dolls Hospital

6:20pm Wednesday 28th March 2012

THIS morning's Memories touches briefly upon the Dolls Hospital that was once in Darlington's Grange Road. I last mentioned this subject seven years ago. This was the article I wrote then: ==================================== DOLLS - hairless, eyeless, toothless, speechless, armless, headless. . . but no casualty is beyond the healing powers of Mrs Mildred Zealand, the kindly matron-cum-surgeon at the Darlington Dolls Hospital."

What price happiness underground?

The Northern Echo: Dick Beavis' 1980 booklet

11:54am Wednesday 21st March 2012

I OFTEN begin these posts with an apology, and once again I hadn't realised that it had been so long since I added to the Memories blog. This week, though, I've been reading What Price Happiness? by Dick Beavis, the Communist Spennymoor miner, and whatever you may think of his politics, he certainly wrote some fascinating descriptions of pitlife.

The water carrier of the Stainmore line

The Northern Echo: The rare, listed Lartington aqueduct

2:29pm Wednesday 29th February 2012

AS you may have seen, this morning's Memories concerns the fantastic Deepdale viaduct which once carried the Stainmore line over a deep ravine at Lartington, near Barnard Castle.

The Cleveland Car Company

The Northern Echo: Grange Road, Darlington

6:20am Wednesday 29th February 2012

TODAY'S Memories touches upon the Cleveland Car Company which was housed in one of Darlington's most distinctive buildings on Grange Road. Until the mid-1960s, of course, Grange Road was on the Great North Road, and so ideally placed for passing motor trade.

Snow Drift at Bleath Gill

The Northern Echo: The rescue begins

6:20am Friday 24th February 2012

THIS morning's Echo Memories concerns snowploughs and the famous 1955 British Transport Film entitled Snow Drift at Bleath Gill. You can see the film continuously running at the Locomotion museum at Shildon, and it is on YouTube ( Here's my version of the story from 2005:

Still harping on about Harperley

The Northern Echo: Low Harperley farmhouse

6:40am Wednesday 22nd February 2012

TODAY'S Memories partly concerns itself with Harperley, on the banks of the Wear between Crook and Wolsingham. It is a lovely, tranquil place which I dragged my unfortunate family to investigate a snowy day a fortnight ago.

Trimdon Grange Colliery Disaster: 130 Years On Pt V

The Northern Echo: The grieving mother and daughter by the miner's headstone: are her arms too long?

10:00pm Thursday 16th February 2012

I WOULD guess that 50 or so people turned up for the impromptu ceremony to mark the 130th anniversary of the Trimdon Grange Colliery Disaster. There were the odd councillors, an MP and the BBC Look North TV people who produced a really good report with Skerne's atmospheric singing as the backdrop.

Trimdon Grange Colliery Disaster: 130 Years On Pt IV

The Northern Echo: Trimdon Grange Colliery Disaster: 130 Years On Pt II

10:51am Thursday 16th February 2012

TODAY - THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16 - is the 130th anniversary of the Trimdon Grange Colliery disaster which killed 74 men and boys. At 1pm, there is a little ceremony in the Trimdon Village cemetery, around the obelisk memorial, to commemorate the diaster. All are welcome to attend.

Trimdon Grange Colliery Disaster: 130 Years On Pt III

The Northern Echo: The top of the sheet

6:20am Wednesday 15th February 2012

HERE'S another disaster poem. As the pictures suggest, it seems to come from a penny songsheet. Whether this was sold to raise money for the bereaved of the Trimdon Grange Colliery Disaster or whether it was just to cash in on the area's sorrowful feeling is unclear.

Trimdon Grange Colliery Disaster: 130 Years On Pt II

The Northern Echo: Trimdon Grange Colliery Disaster: 130 Years On Pt II

2:41pm Tuesday 14th February 2012

ON Thursday, it is the 130th anniversary of the Trimdon Grange Colliery Disaster, in which 74 men and boys died underground in an explosion. In the article in tomorrow's Memories, I quote Tommy Armstrong's famous poem about the disaster.

Mr Tudor's Circus

The Northern Echo: From The Northern Echo, November 22, 1899

6:08pm Monday 13th February 2012

I AM supposed to be doing something far more productive than this, but I am sitting here thinking about Mr Tudor's Circus.

Trimdon Grange Colliery Disaster: 130 Years On Pt 1

The Northern Echo: The memorial on the pithead in Trimdon Grange

4:02pm Friday 10th February 2012

NEXT Thursday - February 16 - is the 130th anniversary of the Trimdon Grange Colliery Disaster in which 74 men and boys lost their lives. Wednesday's Memories will tell the story, and I'm just about to set our graphic artist away to create the cover with a list of the names of the victims. I don't think we'll be able to get all of these details on the page, so before I edit them out, I thought I place them here. It'd be interesting to know if there are any descendants still about:

Harping on about Harperley

The Northern Echo: Harperley signalbox in 1960 - it was demolished in 1964

11:00am Tuesday 31st January 2012

TOMORROW'S Echo Memories is to be a follow-up to that of a fortnight ago about Harperley - a truly haunting place. For Dave Chapman, it was not haunting in the spooky sense but because it was where he spent his happy childhood. This is his reminiscence in full:

Gathering more on Gatherley

The Northern Echo: Gathering more on Gatherley

11:13am Wednesday 25th January 2012

ONE of the great intrigues of modern life - well to me, anyway - is the pair of gatehouses on the southbound A1 just north of Catterick Bridge. They were due to be demolished as part of plans to widen the A1 into a motorway, but the spending cuts have caused those plans to be dropped, giving the lodge houses a reprieve. Scaffolding has sprung up around one of them, so possibly they may be springing back to life.

Ferryhill: the golden age

The Northern Echo: Down Durham bank towards the Dean and Chapter Colliery in the 1960s

3:26pm Tuesday 17th January 2012

Ian Guthrie now lives in Ottawa in Canada, but he grew up in Ferryhill more than 60 years ago. Inspired by Memories 58, he recalls "a golden age"...

Car response that sets the Standard

The Northern Echo: Neasham, 1962, with the "beetleback" car in the right hand corner

5:38pm Thursday 12th January 2012

IN Memories 65 we were "driven to distraction" by a mysterious vehicle with a "rounded back" that was parked beside the River Tees in Neasham one summers day in 1962.

In the Big Swim with Pip and Jack

The Northern Echo: The Pip cartoon of the 1934 Big Swim

5:23pm Monday 9th January 2012

WEDNESDAY'S Echo Memories is going to be the second part of my story about Jack Hatfield. I think he must be the Tees Valley's greatest Olympian, and with this Olympics year marking the centenary of his Olympics, it seems appropriate to tell his story.

Local NewsYourNorth-East



About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree