George Reynolds on the vapour trail

The Northern Echo: NEW VENTURE: Former football club boss George Reynolds opens  his new e-cigarette shop in Chester le Street. Picture:; DAVID WOOD (11774657)

11:21am Tuesday 28th October 2014

IMPROBABLY, almost unthinkably, an extraordinary anniversary approaches. On Friday it will be – it would have been – a year since George Reynolds had his name in the paper.

Railway lines

The Northern Echo:

6:23pm Tuesday 7th October 2014

THE Friends of North Road Railway Museum – it has many, as the upper or lower case may be – presented an illustrated talk by the excellent Mr Chris Nettleton on steam around York.

Saving grace

The Northern Echo:

10:40am Tuesday 23rd September 2014

On the track of a forgotten hero, and an unexpected meeting with a lion

A beer with Mayor Boris

The Northern Echo:

10:13am Tuesday 16th September 2014

So what does one of the most famous names in politics make of the Scottish independence debate?

Last word

The Northern Echo:

10:11am Tuesday 16th September 2014

THE Methodist Church is said to have lost a third of its members in the past decade.

20 years of open days

The Northern Echo:

9:55am Thursday 4th September 2014

There’s a great chance for the public to look behind the scenes of some of our most interesting historical buildings next weekend

Growth industry

The Northern Echo:

9:59am Tuesday 2nd September 2014

An awful lot of hard work has gone into 75 years of flower cultivation

Races track

The Northern Echo:

10:09am Tuesday 26th August 2014

The Waxman is warming to his task in a 450-year-old ceremony

Action stations

The Northern Echo:

10:09am Tuesday 19th August 2014

From St Pancras to rural west Durham, Jonathan Barker’s still mainlining

Pincher salt

The Northern Echo:

10:23am Tuesday 12th August 2014

Chapman Pincher died last week. The cold facts already reported, the column adds a little seasoning

Brave New Row

The Northern Echo:

11:10am Tuesday 5th August 2014

A SUNDAY stroll ends serendipitously in Oakenshaw, a village not visited since the regally- named Henry Tudor was secretary of the workmen’s club, getting on a quarter of a century ago. Good bloke, Henry.

Ghost writing

The Northern Echo:

10:31am Tuesday 29th July 2014

PAUL Screeton’s new book drops, substantially, onto the doormat. It’s his 11th or 12th. Most might broadly be said to concern the paranormal; this one’s about ghosts.

Thirsty work

The Northern Echo:

10:57am Thursday 24th July 2014

COUNTY Durham lad Keith Bell, long in Canada, detects a familiar accent among the expert World Cup analysts on Canadian television.

The beach boys

10:22am Thursday 24th July 2014

YOU thought that England didn’t cut it on grass? Compared to the beach football team, we were brilliant.

Part of the union

10:11am Thursday 24th July 2014

IT’S possible that my membership of the Goalkeepers’ Union has lapsed. It’s possible, even though it’s said that you have to be mad to be goalkeeper, that it was laughed out of court.

Alms and the man

The Northern Echo:

11:30am Tuesday 22nd July 2014

FIRSTLY to Redcar, sun high and glass of wine in hand, to help acknowledge the end of Peter Sotheran’s inspired and outstanding service to Sir William Turner’s Almshouses.

Tanfield roar

The Northern Echo:

10:13am Tuesday 15th July 2014

Sunniside up – and down – the column spends a summer day on a historic railway

Flying colours

The Northern Echo:

10:46am Tuesday 8th July 2014

Two brothers plan a fitting salute to a near-forgotten air force

Easy rider

The Northern Echo: Geoff Thomas has written about his motorbike pilgrimage in 2008.

11:16am Tuesday 17th June 2014

GEOFF Thomas was nine weeks old when adopted from the Salvation Army Mother and Baby Home in Newcastle.

An ill wind

8:42am Tuesday 10th June 2014

KIRBY MAINS has died, a slight and stooped man of 85 quite literally blown off his feet by the wind.


The Northern Echo: BIRDS NESTING: Katie Wolsey, landlady at The Lambton Hounds pub in Pity Me, Durham, where blue tits nested in the cigarette bin

8:41am Tuesday 10th June 2014

SOME might suppose it a dump, others wonder who was picking up the tab, but for a pair of broody blue tits a pub ash can proved an improbable ideal home.

All the fun of the fairs

11:17am Thursday 5th June 2014

THEY held last week’s dinner at the Village Hotel on a North Tyneside business park. It was organised by the Fairs Club, formed in 2006 in a bid to ensure that if Magpies fans only had memories to live on, at least they’d do it in style.

Fairs and graces

The Northern Echo: MEMORIES: Bill Gibbs, chairman of the Fairs Club

11:15am Thursday 5th June 2014

FORTY-FIVE years to the day since they achieved, or damn-near achieved, the impossible, Newcastle United’s class of ’69 reunited last Thursday evening, 7.30pm kick-off, of course.

Under the weather

The Northern Echo: REETH LECTURE: Former television weather man Michael Fish talks to Mike Amos about global warming

10:07am Tuesday 3rd June 2014

Britain’s best known Met Office man offers a pretty fearful forecast

Losing Steam?

The Northern Echo: ROLLING ON: Steam’s appeal as a mode of transport seems to be demonstrated as many use it to get to the Swaledale Festival

10:11am Tuesday 27th May 2014

DID you see them on the box? Look North last Tuesday, the National Railway Museum at Shildon glorying in millions of visitors, millions of sold Mallard mugs and millions of pairs of Mallard socks. Carol Malia particularly liked the idea of Mallard socks. Good on them, of course, but what of the Head of Steam railway museum, nine miles along the line at Darlington?

Good Nic

The Northern Echo: FIRM FRIEND: Henry Nicholson, new mayor of Shildon

10:52am Thursday 22nd May 2014

THE morning after proudly becoming Mayor of Shildon, Councillor Henry Nicholson officially opened Durham Amateur Football Trust’s latest exhibition at the National Railway Museum.

Ton up boy

10:48am Thursday 22nd May 2014

MOST of the Backtrack column’s 100 football matches in 2013-14 have involved Ebac Northern League clubs or been on Northern League grounds. Highlights include: The first: Whitley Bay 1 Spennymoor Town 4 (August 3). Cleator Cup final; not a bad August day (for Whitley Bay).

Hundred wait

The Northern Echo: CLOUD NINE: Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen lifts the FA Cup

10:44am Thursday 22nd May 2014

FOOTBALL Association chairman Greg Dyke tells guests at the FA Cup final lunch that there’ve so far been 2,988 goals in this season’s competition and lightly wonders if the 5pm kick off might make the total 3,000. After eight minutes it’s looking like Hull City want to pass it before half-time.

Rover’s return

The Northern Echo: A sanderling

10:30am Tuesday 20th May 2014

Friday May 9. Berwick’s fascinating, particularly when viewed from the Elizabethan ramparts built, not always successfully, to keep marauding Scots at bay. That the border town remains at war with Russia may, for the moment, be supposed mythical.

A very palpable hit

The Northern Echo: Peter McGovern

10:00am Tuesday 13th May 2014

Love’s labour may not be lost after all. You read it here first

The X Factor

The Northern Echo: JOINING THE DOUBLE DECKERS: X stands for express as the X18 wends its way to Seahouses.

9:58am Tuesday 6th May 2014

The long way round as always, the column catches the bus to Seahouses

Great lengths

The Northern Echo: Dorothy Walker, once Bellerby’s junior senior citizen, has died

10:01am Tuesday 29th April 2014

Barely stopping for breath, our man finds himself speaking in the village with England’s longest place name

Pit and the pendulum

The Northern Echo: WHEEL OF TIME: Ex-miner John Corker

10:08am Tuesday 22nd April 2014

A church service again brings dark memories of mining to the surface


The Northern Echo: Having vision: Coun Rob Yorke at the Eleven Arches site in Bishop Auckland which is set to be redeveloped

9:47am Tuesday 15th April 2014

Long perceived as an economic ugly sister, Bishop Auckland is leaping from the ashes

A load of Jorrocks

The Northern Echo: RAUCOUS NOVELS: Jorrocks out hunting, a creation of RS Surtees, left

9:53am Tuesday 1st April 2014

FELLOW feeling, today’s column was to have majored on a meeting of the Grumpy Old Men’s Breakfast club which gathers – doubtless querulously – around Norton-on-Tees each Wednesday. The only problem is that, having extended the invitation – “We are treated with his regard, wherever we decide to grace with our presence” – they failed totally to acknowledge its eager acceptance.

Mooch ado about nothing

The Northern Echo: BALL GAME: Uncivilised scrambling for the ball in Alnwick is a Shrove Tuesday tradition

10:36am Tuesday 25th March 2014

EVERYONE knows that the John Bull in Alnwick is a great pub. Top it all, it’s just been named the Tyneside and Northumberland CAMRA pub of the year. That’s not the serendipitous bit.

Poles apart

10:33am Tuesday 25th March 2014

LAST week’s piece on the passing of Tony Benn noted that he was an assiduous diary keeper. One entry concerned a visit to the home of Sunderland North MP Chris Mullin when Benn hung up his jacket, but forgot to check that his semipermanent pipe was properly out before putting it in the pocket.

Speakers’ notes

The Northern Echo: OSSIE DELIGHT: Renowned for its public toilets, which are twinned with Burundi

9:52am Tuesday 18th March 2014

WAY BACK in the 1980s they got me to write a series of features based on spending a weekend in villages throughout the North-East.

Old acquaintance... and an old incorrigible

The Northern Echo: ENGAGING AND AFFABLE: Tony Benn

9:47am Tuesday 18th March 2014

TONY BENN was in Willington the day before the Durham Big Meeting, an immoveable objective in his diary since 1961. Back then, he said, Durham had 350 pits. He was also due to give the sermon at the miners’ service in the cathedral and had mischievously been toying with New Labour’s ten commandments.

Economy class

The Northern Echo: Chefs at Cafe Limone, from left, Eddie Simpson, Andrew Altadonna, Jake Gillan and Ramico Arafa

10:01am Tuesday 11th March 2014

Feet again beneath the table, the column may have found Britain’s cheapest lunch

Pride of Lions

The Northern Echo: MANY A MICKLE: Fred Thompson, treasurer of the Lions bookshop and Robert Hillary, president

10:48am Tuesday 4th March 2014

Yet more reading matter, the column finds itself brought to book

Train of thought

The Northern Echo: Image from PictureGalleryModule_ID:3180127

10:21am Tuesday 4th March 2014

SEDUCED by steam, last week’s column was on the Great Goodbye at Shildon. Those who so expertly design the page chose to highlight the suggestion that folk who persist in calling Mallard and her sister locos “trains” should be condemned, Sisyphus-like, forever to be returned to the back of the queue.

Hail and farewell

The Northern Echo: MEMORABLE DAY: Locomotion in Shildon where six A4 steam locomotives were displayed in all their glory for the Great Goodbye Picture: Chris Booth

10:30am Tuesday 25th February 2014

Full steam ahead, the column joins tens of thousands saying goodbye to the A4s

Braving the elements

The Northern Echo: PUB OF AGES: The Highland Laddie at Norton

9:51am Tuesday 18th February 2014

Grand Central or not, the column takes a roundabout route to a Valentine’s Day tea

Ghost train to Tow Law

The Northern Echo: LOCO STORE: Inside West Auckland shed

10:19am Tuesday 11th February 2014

NONE who sentiently lived through it is likely to forget the winter of 1962-63. If it were bleak down here, or over there, what on earth must it have been like in Tow Law? It was the Alaska of the North; up there they really did get the drift.

Calming influence

The Northern Echo: BOOKAHOLICS HEAVEN: Barter Books owner Stuart Manley who rediscovered the wartime poster which became a byword for banality

11:05am Tuesday 4th February 2014

THE 9.58 is approaching Alnmouth railway station, a place where the notion of integrated transport has hitherto seemed as helplessly lost in the translation as the north Northumberland accent, when the guard announces that there is a connecting service to Alnwick.

Global warming

The Northern Echo: STEAM BUFF: Artist, John Wigston, who has an exhibition at Hartlepool Art Gallery

9:50am Tuesday 28th January 2014

HIS email headed “The Globe”, Ronnie Chambers writes mordantly. “Bad news from Hartlepool,” he says. “From tomorrow, Strongarm up to £2.05p a pint.”

Officer and gentlemen

The Northern Echo: SECURITY BLANKET: Ron Greenwood keeps a tight hold of the the FA Cup on the Tube in 1964

10:35am Tuesday 21st January 2014

ST JOHN’S church in Rookhope, top end of Weardale, is to close after 110 years. It stirs memories of the Rev Arthur White Officer, first parson singular and vicar for almost half of its existence.

Alder statesmen

The Northern Echo: EMINENT SERVICE: Alderman Tommy Taylor

10:43am Tuesday 14th January 2014

TOMMY TAYLOR was one of 13 former councillors, with 275 years’ service between them, made honorary Durham County aldermen at a County Hall ceremony on Wednesday.

Holmes truths

The Northern Echo: GAMES AFOOT: Castle Players Steven Bainbridge (Holmes) and Andrew Stainthorpe (Watson) have a tough act to follow Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who play the roles in the current BBC TV series

10:41am Tuesday 14th January 2014

THERE is, of course, a crucial difference between Sherlock as portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch and the Hound of the Baskervilles, as performed two Sunday afternoons ago in Cotherstone Village Hall.

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