WHICH buildings in Darlington have the most fascinating hidden histories? Which deserve to be marked with a plaque?

You can help decide, because Memories has teamed up with Darlington Building Society to place black plaques on Darlington’s most historic buildings.

We would love you to vote for your favourites from our shortlist of ten, and the top five will, with the owners’ permission, have plaques placed on them over the course of the next year.

In time, the plaques will create a trail which will uncover the town’s hidden history, with a special website acting as a guide.

It is not about compiling a definitive history. Instead, it is about commemorating and conserving some of the historical stories and curios that make Darlington unique and that contribute to its individual character.

The idea has grown from the building society commemorating its 160th anniversary by placing a plaque on the site of Mrs Johnson’s eating house in Church Row where its first meeting was held in July 1856.

The plaques have the support of Darlington council. Deputy leader Cllr Chris McEwan said: “I welcome this initiative as I think it is important that we recognise and highlight the buildings that are significant, and unique, to Darlington.”

Vote now for the buildings you think should be the first to be marked. While you are here, why not leave a suggestion in the comments box about which other buildings with hidden histories you would like to see included in the next shortlist.

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Voting closes: Friday, November 2

1. Church Lane

The Northern Echo:

The lane that runs from Tubwell Row to the Market Place is believed to contain the oldest piece of domestic brickwork in the town centre.

Nearly all the town centre, apart from St Cuthbert’s Church, was destroyed by the Great Fire of Darlington on May 7, 1585, but this intriguing bit of brickwork – the slender dark red bricks are just 10ins by 5ins by 2ins – either survived the flames or was built immediately afterwards.

It is believed to have been the rear of an Elizabethan building that fronted onto Tubwell Row. At least one vicar of St Cuthbert’s lived here, but after he died in 1728, his vicarage was demolished – in 1791 the tall, churchyard wall was built from the rubble to stop unholy housewives drying their washing on the headstones.

For many of the centuries since, Church Lane has been a “nursery of vice” – is it now time to reclaim it and mark its place in history?

2. Bakehouse Hill

The Northern Echo:

The last person to be publicly hanged in Darlington was despatched on the corner north-west corner of the Market Place outside the currently empty chicken restaurant.

He was George Swalwell, who was executed on July 26, 1594, three days after he was convicted of being a Catholic.

Two large fires were lit on either side of the gallows so that he could see where his bowels, on one side, were to be burnt, and his body, on the other, was to be boiled once he had been hung, drawn and quartered.

Whatever was left of the poor fellow after the boiling was thrown onto the baker’s dungheap at Bakehouse Hill. Should we mark this spot, if only to show how far we have progressed in 400 years?

3. Corner of Tubwell Row/Prebend Row

The Northern Echo:

Now a mobility shop, it was here in 1790, that William Kitching opened an ironmonger’s shop. Six years later, he added a foundry at the rear.

In 1821, his eldest son, William Jnr, invested £400 in the Stockton & Darlington Railway and became a director. In February 1824, the Tubwell Row foundry won its first railway order – to supply 15 guineas worth of nails to nails to attach the cast iron chairs (which held the rails) to the sleepers. Early next year came a bigger contract - to supply five tons of iron, out of which the railway built some wagons.

By 1831, the railway business was so great, the Kitchings relocated to Whessoe Lane at Hopetown, and so began Whessoe, which became an internationally-renowned engineering firm, specialising in storage tanks. Now owned by a Korean company, it still has a base in the town – should its earliest beginnings be marked?

4. Best Bite Kebab Shop, Northgate

The Northern Echo:

There has to be a railway building in our ten, and the kebab shop has one of the best railway stories attached to it.

It was the home of Edward Pease who, on the evening of April 19, 1821, was awaiting news that he’d been granted Parliamentary permission to build his railway.

Up in Newcastle, colliery engineer George Stephenson had heard of the scheme and decided to travel to Darlington to meet Pease, apparently for the first time. He travelled by stagecoach to Stockton, walked along the planned line to Darlington, so he knew what he would be talking about, and knocked on Pease’s door.

But it was late, he didn’t have an appointment and Pease was waiting for news from London, so the butler turned Stephenson away.

Pease heard the commotion, rushed downstairs, took Stephenson into his kitchen, where the kebab shop is today, and there Stephenson persuaded him that his railway should be steampowered and not horsedrawn.

This building, therefore, changed the world – should it be properly marked?

5. Covered Market complex

The Northern Echo:

The town clock is now the icon of Darlington, but when the complex was first suggested in the early 1860s, it was very unpopular due to its size.

It was designed by a young Manchester architect, Alfred Waterhouse, who went onto become the greatest Gothic designer of the Victorian era, although its floor gave way before it was complete, killing a local farmer.

It was eventually opened at 7am on May 2, 1864, when hotel landlord John Wrightson bought a leg of mutton from butcher Jack Crawford.

Is it now time to show the town has fully embraced the market building by getting it marked?

6. Library, Crown Street

The Northern Echo:

The Edward Pease Free Library was opened by 19-year-old Lady Beatrice Lymington on October 23, 1885. It is named after her late father who had died five years earlier, aged 46, leaving £10,000 (about £1.1m today) in his will to provide a library to help the working man educate himself.

The library was designed by Darlington’s best local architect, GG Hoskins – just look at the tympanum above the north door which, complete with wise owl, tells you all you need to know about the building.

It was extended in the 1930s, and it has survived the 21st Century era of austerity through a public campaign. Is now the time to show how much it is loved by marking it with a plaque?

7. Wilko’s, East Street

The Northern Echo:

The supermarket is on the site of Darlington’s first purpose-built cinema, The New Empire Electric Picture Palace which was also known as the Hall of 1,000 Lights.

It opened on June 23, 1911, and was soon joined by seven more cinemas so that in 1939, Darlington had more cinema seats per head of population than any other town in Britain.

It seated 1,000 people, a handful of whom could cosy up together in the doubleseats on the back row.

It closed in 1960 and was replaced by Presto’s supermarket, but is now the time to mark Darlington’s cinema craze by putting a plaque on Wilko’s?

8. Imperial Hotel, Grange Road

The Northern Echo:

Originally built as a temperance hotel in the 1870s, the Imperial’s greatest claim to fame is that it hosted the greatest night in Darlington’s music history: February 2, 1967, when rock star Jimi Hendrix played to 200 bemused teenagers there.

Hendrix had been booked for £90 the year before when he was unknown, but as the gig drew near, his first single, Hey Joe, burst into the Top 10. His management wanted him to stay in London to promote it, but the Imperial managers refused to break the deal.

The night ended in immense controversy: Hendrix’ favourite Fender Stratocaster guitar was stolen, sprayed cream overnight and sold next morning on High Row. It said to be still in the area – perhaps in an attic in Middleton Tyas.

Should the scene of this musical crime be marked with a plaque?

9. Former Brown Trout, Cockerton

The Northern Echo:

Now remodelled as shops, the pub in Cockerton was the home of one of the world’s most notorious footballers.

On February 14, 1905, Middlesbrough sparked huge controversy by making Sunderland forward Alf Common the world’s first £1,000 footballer. Boro were condemned in the House of Commons, but the goals of the England international saved Boro from the drop.

Alf retired in 1914 and became a publican in Darlington, running the Alma Hotel (later the Brown Trout) for a couple of decades where he was a noted celebrity behind the bar.

Should this scene of extraordinary footballing history be one of the first to be marked?

10. Fieldhead, Abbey Road

The Northern Echo:

This house on the north side of Abbey Road was built in 1904-05 for Clara Curtis Lucas and her spinster sister, Alice.

Clara was educated at Darlington’s Polam Hall School which she became enthused by the idea of equality between the sexes.

She devoted much of her adult life campaigning for women to get the Parliamentary vote, and in 1894, she became the first elected female in Darlington when got on the Board of Education, which oversaw the town’s schools.

In 1915, she became Darlington’s first elected female councillor, representing the Cockerton ward, and she lived to see the first women get the vote in 1918.

Unfortunately, she then fell seriously ill, and died in Fieldhead on April 14, 1919. She was 65.

In this 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, should the home of our leading campaigner be marked?