THIS is our first CineSecrets, where we join forces with the North-East Film Archive to show hidden gems from its collection of films.

You’ll see the sights and sounds, the faces, changing landscapes and industries of County Durham. You’ll experience special events just as they happened and watch everyday lives and the region’s rich past unfold on screen.

Our first CineSecrets is an excerpt from a 40-minute documentary that Mike Neville narrated in 1962 for Tyne Tees Television. It was called Your Heritage: The River Tees, and in it, he takes a very leisurely journey down the river looking at the history and the industry of the settlements on its banks.

At Middleton-in-Teesdale, he looks at leadmining; at Barnard Castle he does a long interview about the manufacture of penicillin at an unnamed drugs factory – surely Glaxo. He describes Barney’s market as “busy, prosperous and unchanging”, before leaving for Piercebridge, where he encounters a ghost in the George, and arriving on the Great North Road in an extremely busy Darlington, with hordes of shoppers streaming over the zebra crossings.

Our CineSecrets footage shows these views of Darlington, along with Mike’s fascinating visit to Patons & Baldwins at Lingfield Point.

If you spot anyone you know, or if you have any information about any of the scenes featured, we’d love to hear from you. Please put your comments in the box down below, or email

CineSecrets is just a fragment of a vast catalogue of film collected and preserved by the North East Film Archive.

It is part of the archive’s major new project, North-East on Film, which will re-connect the people and communities of the region with their film heritage and provide important glimpses into our history through special screenings, events and online collections. This project has been made possible by support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.


PATONS & BALDWINS was a wonder factory – the largest single level factory in Europe; the largest wool factory in the world. Little wonder, then, that it features in our first CineSecrets film. Before you watch the film, here are some hard-to-believe snippets about P&B…

P&B relocated to Darlington after the Second World War as its multi-storey factories in Halifax, Leicester, Wakefield and Melton Mowbray, which employed about 5,000 women, were too outdated.

It built a £7.5m factory at Lingfield Point on 140 acres of flat farmland beside the original trackbed of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. The factory had 1.7m sq ft of floorspace, and it required 14m bricks, 13,500 tons of steel, and 20 gallons of paint. There were 12.5 acres of glass in the roofs, and the office corridor was 540ft long.

Production started in December 1947 and reached full capacity in 1951, when it employed 3,500 workers, 75 per cent of whom were female. The most extraordinary statistic is that 30 per cent of female school leavers in Darlington in the 1950s started their working careers in this one factory. Even so, a fleet of 50 buses had to bring in extra workers every morning from Peterlee, the Trimdons, Bishop Auckland, Shildon and Stockton.

Perhaps the most famous P&B employee was Roger Moore. He never came to Darlington, but was photographed modelling for P&B patterns in London. Because of this, he was known as “the Big Knit”, and in his autobiography, he says of his long and distinguished film career: “Not bad for a knitwear model.”

Each week, P&B produced 250,000lbs of wool a week, 13m lbs a year. We reckon that unravels to 7.33m miles of wool a year. Now as the moon is on average 238,855 miles away, P&B produced enough wool every year to go up to the moon and back 15.3 times. Sixty per cent of the wool went for export.

In March 1949, Darlington’s trolleybus network was extended along McMullen Road to reach P&B. When it shut for its factory fortnight at 4pm on July 27, 1951, nearby Eastbourne School brought the end of its day forward from 4.10pm to 3.30pm so the children didn’t get trampled to death by the thousands of wool workers desperate to start their summer holidays.

It was a model factory with football pitches, Italianate gardens and an enormous dining room, which could seat 1,400 diners by day and which, by night, converted into the Beehive Ballroom.

The woollen industry went into decline in the 1960s, squeezed by new funky products like nylon and cheap overseas competition. Production ceased in 1980, but P&B’s successor company, Coats, still employs a couple of hundred at Lingfield Point, marketing and distributing around the world such well known brands as Sylko sewing thread, Anchor embroidery and tapestry threads, Patons handknitting wool and Opti zips.