FIVE-years-ago this week, a new development was revealed which would go on to transform the heart of Darlington, and create new jobs for the town.

The £30m complex included an entertainment hub, with a nine-screen multiplex cinema and 80-bedroom hotel, as well as bars, restaurants and pubs built around an open-air plaza on the banks of the River Skerne.

Once the complex was created it was expected to bring 500 new jobs to the area, with many more being generated in the construction process.

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Far from being a 'pie in the sky development', work was soon underway, and the former bus depot was officially opened as a modern leisure complex on Thursday, June 23, last year. It has since won awards for design from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

While that was a piece of good news for Darlington, there was also bad news that week, with plans being revealed to remove the long-established Department for Education workforce away from Mowden Hall, to a more modern site – possibly in Newcastle.

The plans came after research said the building was in a poor state which would require repair and investment if workers were to remain there.

The move would have ended a 46-year-old link with the town, and led to The Northern Echo launching our Save Our Jobs campaign to keep the 480 civil service jobs in Darlington.

The campaign to keep 480 civil service jobs was successful and saw The Northern Echo join forces with

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman, Darlington Borough Council, union officials and politicians of all parties came together to back the campaign.

An innovative deal was eventually drawn up by the council with the government to build an office block at the back of the town hall.

When the £8m building was officially opened in 2015, council leader Bill Dixon said: "This has been a shining example of collaborative working."

In North Yorkshire, an antique vase found in a family home sold for £2.6 million at auction.

The Chinese vase, which was valued at £20,000 to £30,000, was discovered by auctioneer Rodney Tennant. Mr Tennant said the owner had no idea of its value adding: “It had been in the house for 45 years.”

Experts initially thought the vase was a 19th century replica, but later realised that it had been created during the reign of Emperor Yongzheng, who ruled China from 1722 to 1735.

*Next week in Looking Back: High wind and torrential rain leaves homes and roads flooded, including the A66 between Darlington and Middlesbrough, while several people had to be rescued from rising water in Thimbleby, near Northallerton, and Aysgarth, near Leyburn. Were you affected? Let us know your memories of the November 2012 storms. Contact or