From the Darlington & Stockton Times of October 14, 1967

TWO days earlier, the official “blowing up of the first sod” for the new, deeply controversial, Teesdale reservoir had been carried out by the chairman of the Tees Valley and Cleveland Water Board, Sir Charles Allison.

This was the beginning of the construction of Cow Green Reservoir, a project which had begun three years earlier and which would not be concluded until 1971.

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Said the D&S Times: “Before he pressed the detonator which exploded a small section of peat, Sir Charles said much had been said about the reservoir but it must be understood that “we have not built it for any other reason than to assist industry with its increasing needs for production”.

There was then a rather chilly opportunity to inspect the site before everyone went for a celebratory lunch at Scotch Corner where Sir Charles obviously thawed out because he warmed to his theme.

“Sir Charles said it had been a long and tedious journey and although he did not intend to make any reference to those who had impeded the progress, it had been impeded and work on the reservoir had started 12 months later than was originally hoped,” said the D&S.

The £2.25m reservoir, which was to be two miles long and would hold 9,000m gallons of water, was opposed by naturalists because of how it would damage the rare and precious environment of upper Teesdale. For example, one-tenth of the habitat of the unique Teesdale violet was to be submerged, and one of the leading voices against the development was a lecturer in botany at Durham University, David Bellamy.

“Sir Charles said he had from time to time expressed very strong views on the basis of the opposition’s case and in his view we, as a nation, seemed to be so obsessed in preserving the past that we had become blinded to the need for future prosperity,” said the D&S.

He was particularly scornful of one, unnamed MP’s opposition in the House of Commons which had on several occasions holed beneath the waterline the water board’s attempts to get Parliamentary permission for the reservoir.

Sir Charles concluded: “Does not this kind of happening which is blatantly another example of authority without responsibility, make one wonder how as a nation we will ever pull our socks up and be prosperous again?”

October 13, 1917

AN “alarming incident”, as the D&S’ headline 100 years ago said, had occurred at Leyburn, where the North Eastern Railway was delivering goods with a horsedrawn cart in the extremely narrow Risebar Lane.

The youth Willie Nelson, who was in charge of the horse, attempted to turn it round, but it got jammed against a wall and panicked. It kicked out and hit Willie in the face “inflicting severe injuries”. He was kicked unconscious and hoofed backwards onto the flatbed dray.

“In this condition he was laid on the dray as the horse madly careered through the Market Place and main streets which were densely packed with people and pens full of sheep, it being the annual October fair,” said the D&S. “It is almost a miracle that no one was injured or killed as the animal forged its way through the congested traffic and made for the yard where it is stabled.”

Willie was thrown off and, reported the D&S, later came round.

Elsewhere, the D&S reported that Wensleydale had experienced its earliest heavy snowfall for many years, and that the price of butter had hit record levels – 4s 4d per 24oz roll – on Ripon market, causing “a good deal of grumbling”.

And from Rouen, in France, came the sad news that Captain the Hon Henry Cecil Vane, the eldest son of Lord Barnard, had died from acute infectious jaundice. “The news was received with deep regret in Teesdale, where Lord Barnard has large landed estates to which the deceased would, had he survived, succeeded in due course,” said the D&S.

Capt Vane, 35, had had a long military career and, said the D&S, had “seen a good deal of arduous service during the war”.

Two other of Lord Barnard’s sons were also serving.

October 12, 1867

DARLINGTON FOOTBALL CLUB held its annual meeting in the Mechanics Institute. This club was an offshoot of the town’s cricket club and was actually a rugby club, although it referred to itself as a football club as soccer didn’t really exist then.

The rugby players had themselves only been formed in October 1863 and had played their first competitive match on February 23, 1866, against Durham Grammar School.

At the annual meeting at the start of the club’s second playing season, it elected its officials. “Considerable discussion then ensued” about the rules of the game. “There appeared decided opinions about introducing the permission of carrying, or running with, the ball, and it was ultimately determined that the committee should without delay revise the entire code ,” said the D&S.

“At present, hacking and tripping as well as carrying are forbidden in the interest of safety to wind and limb, but the elasticity and the dash of youth too often obliterate the thought or idea of risk and consequence, and hence the desire of some strong fellows for further latitude.”

The club had arranged matches against Leeds and Durham grammar schools, and, said the D&S, was looking forward to “a prosperous season, and a full exchequer, as no winter game within the capacity of all is better than football”.