RECENTLY were were very pleased to show a picture of a Bamford’s Root Cutter – a wonderful mechanical device from the 1920s which, at a turn of a handle, would cut root vegetables like turnips and manglewurzles up so that they could be fed to animals.

The root cutter had a cast iron plate on it saying it had been supplied by “Teasdale Bros Darlington”. They were agricultural engineers who started out in Burneston, near Bedale, in the 1820s, before moving to the Bank Top Iron Works in Darlington in the 1870s.

To prove their rural beginnings, Richard Towler of Arrathorne, near Bedale, has quite wonderfully sent in a picture of a rose-colour plate that he has kicking around which says “J Teasdale maker Burneston Bedale”. Quite what the plate came off, no one knows, but it is a truly splendid thing.

The Northern Echo:

TEASDALE TALK: A mid 19th Century cast iron plate sent in by Richard Towler

The third thing that we know of that the brothers put their name on is, of course, the Stone Bridge beneath St Cuthbert’s Church in Darlington, which they built over the Skerne in 1895. The bridge seems to have been their largest project and after completing it, they went back to root cutters and turnip toppers.

The Northern Echo:

FAMOUS BRIDGE: Teasdale Bros name still spans the Skerne in Darlington

The brothers’ company seems to have lasted until the 1940s.

On a similar theme, Memories was in Boathouse Lane, Stockton, in September for the unveiling of a railway plaque when we were stunned to spot a draincover the like of which we’d never seen before.

Everyone knows that the foundry founded by Nicholas Downing in Railway Street, Stockton, in 1838 made grates that feature in our gutters across the Tees Valley and County Durham, all of them bearing his name. But never before had we spotted one that proclaimed that it was a “Clarence Deep Water Seal”, the foundry naming its product after the railway and the port which honoured the Duke of Clarence who became King William IV in 1830.

The Northern Echo:

GREAT GRATE: A Clarence Deep Water Seal made by N Downing & Sons

Downing, the doyen of drainmakers, had been in partnership with Timothy and Thomas Hackworth in Shildon before moving to Stockton, and four generations of Downings kept the foundry going into the 1980s.

As readers love sending in their pictures of unusual grates (and, indeed, of cast iron plates), we thought we’d share this startling development with you. It is so exciting, that we shall need a week off to recover, and Memories will return in its full glory in a fortnight when we will, once again, attempt to tackle a backlog of correspondence.

Many thanks to everyone who sends in material, thoughts and ideas. Please keep it all coming.