WAS Clark Gable, one of the biggest Hollywood stars of all time, ever spotted in Darlington?

In Memories 574, Brian McKerrell asked that captivating question. Gable was in the UK as a film-maker for the American air force from January to November 1943, and Brian had had it from two sources that the Gone With The Wind star was once seen popping in to Binns on High Row.

Peter McLoughlin followed up by saying his late mother-in-law always maintained that she had seen Clark Gable having a drink in the Black LIon on Stockton High Street.

Now two more sightings place him firmly in Darlington.

“I remember as a child my mother telling me that she had seen Clark Gable on the High Row in Darlington dressed in uniform,” says Tricia Black. “I have often wondered about this so I was quite pleased to read your item.”

And Pauline Wilkinson in Staindrop, who has just this week turned 81, says that she remembers when she was attending the School of Art in the Technical College in Darlington, she got the train in each day from her home in Romaldkirk. One of the other regular passengers was Lenny Palmer, from Winston station, who worked for the railway gardening department and, like Pauline, got off at North Road Station.

“Lenny was probably five or more years older than I was, and I distinctly remember him telling me one day that he had once bumped into Clark Gable on the High Row, and he had spoken to him,” says Pauline. “It stuck in my mind because you don’t expect to see famous film stars in Darlington.”

Gable was based at RAF Polebrook near Northamptonshire and flew on five combat missions. On one, a crewmate was killed and he was showered with shrapnel, so MGM ensured he was taken out of the firing line.

It is not inconceivable that during 1943 he could have found himself at one of the many airbases in south Durham or North Yorkshire – in fact, given the number of sightings we’ve now got, it looks very conceivable.