On Monday, very kind members of the Saltburn and District Men’s Forum managed to stay awake during the Memories talk called Attacking the Devil and Sinking the Unsinkable. It is about the demise of the Titanic and the drowning of the most famous British man on board, WT Stead, the father of modern journalism, who was editor of this newspaper in the 1870s.

AS fascinated as the members were by Mr Stead’s story, many of the questions they asked were about his brother, JE Stead.

And little wonder, as a few miles down the coast in Redcar lies the Stead Memorial Hospital in what medical doctors would describe as a critical state.

John Edward Stead was a metallurgical doctor, famed for putting steel and iron under the microscope and discovering a structure he suggested could be the metal’s soul. Really, he was advocating the appliance of science to what had previously been a very manual industry.

“As a scientist, his name has a worldwide repute; as a man, he endeared himself to all by his insight and broad human sympathy,” said his obituary in The Northern Echo in 1923.

He was the great editor’s younger brother by two years.

Born on North Tyneside, he became an analytical chemist, working for Middlesbrough ironmasters Bolckow Vaughan in their Manchester works.

In 1876, he became the Middlesbrough borough analyst and began specialising in the extraction of iron from its ore.

He received three honorary doctorates, was made a fellow of the Royal Society and, in 1901, was awarded the metallurgical world’s highest honour: the Bessemer Gold Medal from the Iron and Steel Institute.

The latter half of his life was spent living in a Victorian villa called Everdon, in the Coatham area of Redcar. As well as his wife, Mary Lizzie, his eldest sister, Mary Isie, lived with him. She was renowned for her good works among the distressed sailors of the town.

JE Stead also served in numerous social ways, perhaps the most long-lasting of which was his desire to get a technical training college in Middlesbrough.

He succeeded only weeks before his death, with the opening of the Cleveland Technical Institute, which grew into the Constantine Technical College, which became Teesside University.

After his death, his only surviving son presented the family home, Everdon, to the town and it opened in 1929 as a cottage hospital.

Over the years, the villas on either side of Everdon, in Kirkleatham Street, were acquired as the Stead Memorial Hospital grew.

In 2010, the hospital was replaced by the £30m Redcar Primary Care Hospital, so now JE Stead’s villa lies boarded up and derelict. Whatever will become of it?

THESE days, it is impossible to move without being bombarded with the time of day. Nearly every household appliance, from the microwave to the video, has it flashing on them; it’s in the corner of the TV or computer screen; it’s in large numerals on the front of most phones; it’s updated nearly every minute by breakfast radio show hosts; even your car tells you the time.

Strangely, some people persist in having the time on their wrist: a watch.

It wasn’t always thus.

Following Memories 130’s extravaganza on the 150th anniversary of Darlington’s Covered Market, Hugh Mortimer has kindly sent in this council memo he uncovered in Darlington library.

It is dated November 7, 1946, and comes from the town’s transport manager – he would have been in charge of the municipal buses and trolleybuses – who was concerned that the dark of the winter mornings would prevent the people of Darlington from seeing their town clock.

He asks the markets manager to illuminate the clock.

“The drivers…inform me it is of great assistance to them in timekeeping during the winter mornings,” he says, “particularly for those who do not possess a watch.” MEMORIES 129 showed a picture of a train crash which we said was the famed Hopetown Cut accident, in Darlington, in November 1951. It wasn’t.

Steve Hodgson and Steve Walton were among those to point out that the accident, caused by “over-enthusiastic shunting” happened on the corner of Station Road and Hopetown Lane – to the left are the lime cells, to the right is North Road station.

“It must have taken place around 1956 to 1958 when I lived with my grandparents at 103 High Northgate and I can remember the wagon being through the fence,” says Steve Walton. “The land that is now the overspill car park for the Head of Steam museum was in those days a railway scrapyard, which was a wonderful playground for young lads as it was always full of engines awaiting the scrapman’s torch.”

Richard Barber says that the bus belongs to Summerson Bros – probably of West Auckland. “It looks like a Bedford with a Duple body,” he says.

And Malcolm Middleton points out: “I hope the man in the bottom left corner of the picture is trying to align his Brownie box camera!”

What else could he possibly be doing?

MEMORIES 131 was searching for clues at the scene of Murder Hill – a hillock on top of the steep Yorkshire banks of the River Tees near Stapleton, on the old turnpike road from Darlington to Barton.

Others have been this way before.

Mr ME Harris kindly sends his research notes which suggest that on the first Ordnance Survey map, printed in 1857, a line was added beneath Murder Hill: “Skeletons have been found here.”

But no one knows who found the skeletons, and no one knows whose skeletons they were.

Stapleton is an ancient place – it’s name comes from an old English word “stapol”, meaning pillar or post. There is a field “rough with moats and mounds” near the river where the Saxon village might have been. It is said there was once a bridge over the Tees here – hence the nearby Bridge Inn – but it was washed away in the 14th Century.

On the other side of the village is Garth Field, where sheep live on top of more intriguing grassy lumps. It is said a medieval manor house was here until it fell down in the 1820s.

The past for places like Stapleton was not as tranquil as we might imagine. A medieval village in the North-East could expect to be regularly ravaged by invading Vikings or marauding Scots.

In 1640, the Scots burst southwards, defeated Charles I’s army at the Battle of Newburn and captured all of Northumberland and Durham. This excursion ended in the Treaty of Ripon, signed on October 26, 1640, in which Charles allowed the Scots to keep the land north of the Tees and he agreed to pay them £850-a-day for the pleasure of keeping their army there.

There is a story that Stapleton did not escape the violence, that a renegade band of Scottish soldiers came up against the English there. Perhaps the Scots surprised the English on Murder Hill – the highest spot in the district – and slaughtered them.

But the story ends with the English regrouping, and routing the Scots. The enemy fled eastwards, hotly pursued, only to reach the heavilyguarded Croft bridge. To cross the bridge meant certain death; to turn back into the arms of their pursuers meant certain death.

So the Scots jumped into the Tees, and several of them drowned.

Any other theories about Murder Hill?