LAST week we featured Joyce Malcolm’s picture of a Walters & Johnson bus parked in Old Elvet in Durham City – at the far right of the picture is “the hanging balcony” which was put up to capitalise on the lucrative entertainment occasioned by public executions on the New Drop directly opposite, outside the court.

Peter Cardno, the former chairman of the Northern branch of the Omnibus Society, emailed to tell us that J Walters and Sons started a market day motorbus service between Ferryhill and Stockton in 1922.

“By 1925 a regular service had commenced between Darlington and Ferryhill using a garage at Ferryhill Station on a site later used by the North of England Engineering and Electrical Company during the Second World War for the production of shells, aircraft parts and Bailey Bridge sections,” he said.

In about 1926, John Walter Johnson entered into partnership with Ernest Walters, hence the name on our bus.

Andrew Tyldsley of Ouston, Chester-le-Street, completed the company story by saying that it was based in Darlington Road, Ferryhill, when it was taken over on August 27, 1932, by United. Walters & Johnson then operated: one made by Thornycroft and four made by Gilford. “It was included in the sale to United but it passed to Wrights of Louth, in Lincolnshire,” said Peter.

MARGARET PRUDHOM was not that worried about the bus. She wanted the picture to pan to the left of the vehicle.

“The small house behind the lamp-post was No 33 Old Elvet, built in 1625, and the one next door to it, which is not completely shown on the picture, was a purpose-built Catholic chapel on ground level with accommodation for the priest above it.,” she says.

“No 33 Old Elvet was, at first, let to tenants and later, for various periods, was occupied by the Vicar Apostolic. The chapel was entered discreetly from the passage which is visible in the picture between the houses.”

From the 16th Century until the 1829 Act of Catholic Emancipation, Catholics were persecuted for their faith, and so their chapels tended to be tucked away so they did not draw attention to themselves.

“It served as a church until St Cuthbert’s Church in Old Elvet was built in 1827 in more tolerant times.

“On a site behind these cottages a substantial stone school was built in 1847. It remained as St Cuthbert’s School until the 1960s .

“It then underwent great alteration to become a Catholic chaplaincy and, in a huge act of vandalism, the two houses which fronted Old Elvet and all the history connected with them were pulled down.

“The chaplaincy proved too expensive and so the stone building was converted into two very smart looking houses with a lovely view of the racecourse.”

The current No 33 does indeed appear to be spectacularly out of place in Old Elvet.

If our picture were to have panned even further to the left another curiosity would have come in to view: The Town House which features in The Times’ top 50 most affordable hotels in the country.

It is a late 18th Century town house, which became a pub known as the Angel. Its top floor rooms also had good views over to the executions and so were let out at high prices on the relevant days.

It became student accommodation and then, at the start of the 21st Century, it was converted into an extravagant, opulent and over-the-top themed hotel, which opened in 2008, complete with a Rolls Royce car parked unmovably inside it.