RECENTLY we stumbled into a corner of Darlington which had previously evaded our notice: a romantic Victorian reservoir in Snipe Lane, near Stressholme golf course.

It was once a sewage settling tank, and you can still see the sluice controls that once let the clean water drain out into the River Skerne.

In the late 1950s, when John Brown first stumbled upon it, the Victorian works building had gone and the reservoir was empty. “It was just a big open hole in the ground, about 7ft deep, with paved sides,” he remembers.

There were big stone steps leading into it, and all the metalwork of the drainage system could clearly be seen. John and his father shut the sluice and slowly the reservoir refilled with water.

“In the 1960s, I acquired a car and got fish – roach and perch – out of the Tees and from Willowgarth, a pond between Croft and Middleton Tyas, and transported them back to Snipe Lane in buckets,” says John.

So Snipe Pond became an anglers’ paradise, with the Brown Trout Angling Association adding tench, bream and carp to the mix.

However, because of its isolated location beside the A66, other things like stolen cars also had to be fished out of it.

“We gave it up about 10 years ago because there were too many problems,” says John. “We cleaned it out and handed it back to the council.”

It still seems to have some angling usage and, for all its proximity to a busy road, it has a tranquil atmosphere. We guess that it was the forerunner of the water treatment works a little south of it, but we still can’t find its story. If you have any more information on Snipe Pond, please email