LAST week's mystery picture did not remain a mystery for long, and was not a mystery to many people.

Many thanks to everyone who got in touch – we cannot remember the last time a single picture produced such an enormous response.

All but one person identified our photograph as showing White Gates Cottage, in Quarryheads Lane, Durham, which was once the gatehouse and probably tollhouse for Prebends Bridge.

Memories 364 told how Prebends Bridge was built in the 1770s after the previous bridge had been washed away by the great flood of 1771. Dean Thomas Dampier was in charge of the project, and the bridge was designed by Dean and Chapter architect George Nicholson.

The new bridge was deliberately placed to open up one of the most famous cityscapes in the world – cathedral high above the trees on the right, Framwellgate bridge in the distance, mills dotted along the water’s edge… After JMW Turner published his painting from the bridge in 1837, it became the picture postcard view of Durham.

But bridges are expensive to build and maintain, and in centuries gone by, people were content to pay to safely cross them. Indeed, giving money for maintaining your local bridge was seen as a good, charitable thing to do in the way we today would donate to a local hospice.

So while Prebends Bridge was being built, a gatehouse which probably doubled as a tollkeeper’s cottage was built beside it.

This incredibly cute, Grade II-listed cottage, with its oriel window keeping an eye on anyone using the bridge, is called Prebends Cottage and is beloved of members of The Northern Echo Camera Club.

Prebends Cottage, built in the 1770s, is one of the most photographed buildings in Durham. This is by Andrew Davison, of The Northern Echo Camera Club

In the 1770s, the main road from the south dropped down the gorge to the cottage. Those travellers not wanting to cross into the city then had to haul themselves back up the bank to Pimlico and South Street.

When George Stephenson had completed building Locomotion No 1 in Newcastle, the engine was loaded in bits onto three wagons which Mr Pickersgill’s horses pulled to Aycliffe Village on September 16, 1825, ready for the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway 11 days later. Some sources say that this revolutionary convoy travelled via South Street, so the engine might have come past Prebends Cottage.

However, because it was such a tricky through route, soon afterwards Quarryheads Lane was improved along the top of the gorge so it became the main road. It was called Quarryheads because there were sandstone quarries along there – the stone for Durham castle and priory comes from here – and it opened up the area known as Bellasis to development.

The Northern Echo:

Bellasis presumably comes from the French family who owned lots of land in the North-East following their arrival with William the Conqueror – their name translates as “good and beautiful enough”.

In 1844, Durham School moved out of Palace Green and on to the Bellasis area.

Where the path diverged from Quarryheads Lane and went down to Prebends Bridge, a new gatehouse/tollkeeper’s cottage was built in 1834. It was this building, now known as White Gates Cottage, which starred in last week’s mystery photo.

Last week's unidentified picture that was recognised by many

And it was spotted by Billy Mollon, Sam Edgoose, Rod Wilkinson (who jogs past the cottage most days), David Ferguson, Colin Brown, Richard Morgan, Stephen Green, John Hamilton, John Cole, Peter Daniels, John Heslop, David Gray, JW Oates, Paul Beken, John Findlay, Gordon and Kathleen Gilson, Andy Parkin, Michael Ross, Paul Walters, E Gray, Peter Barber, Mel Gray, Ken Wright, Yvonne Willis, Barbara Laurie, Mark Nimmins, Ian Forsyth, Marian Morrison, Richard Armstrong, Eric Hunt, Kelvin Vincent, David Hogg, Jo Tudor, Greg Mearman, Malcolm Farrow, Matthew Thompson, Peter Jefferies, Jane Laninga, Bill McCafferty, Peter Welsh, Irving Hollingsworth, Colin Thompson, Malcolm Gibb (“it brings back old memories of my young courting days”), David Warren, Michael Young, Gordon Allison, Paul Dobson, Martin Donbavand, Ian Johnson, Jim Henderson, Dennis Townson and anyone else we’ve accidentally missed out. Many thanks to all, especially to those who added kind comments about Memories to their emails.

BRICKED into the bankside near Prebends Cottage is the outline of an old tunnel. Several people mentioned this and connected it to collieries that used to be in the Bellasis area. Some said it was a drift mine into the seam; others said it was a drainage tunnel. Perhaps it was both.

OUR mystery photograph was among the possessions of Dr Ken Stephenson who died last year, aged 94. He was born in Bishop Auckland, attended Durham School (which, as we now know, is in Quarryheads Lane), studied medicine in Newcastle and came to Darlington in the mid-1950s to join Dr A Thompson’s practice at St Medard’s at the top of Duke Street in Stanhope Road.

When Dr Thompson retired, Dr Stephenson moved over the road into the Netherlaw practice, headed by Dr Jack Cathcart. When Dr Stephenson himself retired in 1990, he was head of practice, and since then the practice has moved to Blackett’s, the former builder’s yard in Bondgate.

This leads us to another mystery. Netherlaw is an attractively windswept village overlooking the Firth of Forth, so we can understand a doctor naming his practice after it.

But St Medard?

Medard was a French bishop who lived from 456 to 545, and he is best remembered because he was protected from the rain by an eagle which hovered over his head. He is the patron saint for protection against bad weather – and, bizarrely, against toothache. His feast day is June 8 and the French believe that if it rains on St Medard’s day, it won’t stop for 40 days – like our St Swithin’s day on July 15.

Medard is a little known saint. There is only one church, in Lincolnshire, dedicated to him in the UK.

So why should his name be carved into the 1870s gateposts of a large property in Darlington’s Stanhope Road?