THIS month's exhibition in the Darlington Centre for Local Studies in the Crown Street library concentrates on the town's mills – before railways, Darlington was a textile town.

The biggest of the mills was the immense Peases Mill, which was where the Sports Direct multi-storey car park is today.

In its heyday in the 19th Century, it employed more than 1,000 mill girls – so many, that towards the end of the century when it became unprofitable, the Peases dare not close it because the job losses would harm so many families, and, potentially, lose them so many votes in local elections.

The mill staggered on throughout the 20th Century until it closed in 1972 and it was demolished in the early 1980s.

One of its last parts to come down was its octagonal 152ft chimney, built in 1874 and demolished in July 1984.

It was in Lower Priestgate, directly behind the library – you can still see its footprint as it is a scratty bit of litter strewn land where you used to be able to squeeze two cars without paying for parking.

But just like the modern world caught up with Peases Mill, so new traffic regulations have caught up with parking evaders and cars left on the chimney's site have been known to get tickets. The exhibition is free and it runs until April 30.