MEMORIES 402 hailed the majesty of the Imperial Quarter – the newly-promoted retail area of Darlington which includes the niche shops and restaurants in Grange Road and Blackwellgate. We were intrigued by an 1896 picture of Blackwellgate which showed that a shopkeeper had gone to great lengths to paint a slogan on the eaves of the property now occupied by the Hatch luncheonette.

We couldn’t quite make out what the slogan said, but it seemed to say: “Solid saver English levers”.

Post House Wynd jeweller Robin Finnegan is able to explain: “Might the sign say ‘solid silver English levers’? I think this would refer to English lever movement pocket watches.”

In 1755, English horologist Thomas Mudge invented the lever escapement, which Wikipedia describes as “the greatest single improvement ever applied to pocket watches”. Basically, his lever accurately transfers energy from the tickety bit of the watch to the hands so they move on by a second with each tick.

An 1896 street directory lists jeweller JW Richardson as occupying the property, and he was probably responsible for the other prominent advert on the wall which promotes “4s 6d specs” – jewellers are a dab hand at intricate operations so also tinkered with watches and glasses.

Mr Richardson was only in No 31 Blackwellgate for a couple of decades, unlike his neighbours, the Ellersons, who ran a traditional drapery shop from the same building – their bow-fronted outlet is behind Mr Richardson’s shop and faces across to Binns.

George, Thomas and Isabella Ellerson are listed in 1829 as being woollen and linen drapers, and the last of the family, Miss Mary Ellerson, continued trading – quaint straw bonnets were a speciality – until the end of the First World War.

The Ellersons also appear to have lived in the nice house to the right of Mr Richardson’s shop. After Miss Mary died, it was rather crudely converted into a retail outlet.

On a similar shopping theme, Memories 394 included a series of pictures taken looking down on Darlington in December 1938. One featured East Row, where Rose & Co had what we said was a fashion shop.

But both Alan Beasby and Susan Bailey said it was a wallpaper shop – can anyone tell us more about Rose & Co.

And then Michael Barber noted that the rounded building on the corner of East Row and Tubwell Row was occupied by White Brothers who sold motorbikes. However, for many decades this was a newsagent called Find It Out – a name he recalled seeing on an early 1930s photo published in Memories 378 when Find It Out was a newsagent beneath the King’s Head Hotel.

“I’ve always thought it an odd name, rather more 1960s sounding than the 1930s,” he says.

Every shop we’ve mentioned today – Fosters, Binns, Ellersons, Richardson’s, Rose’s and Whites (some with apostrophes, some without) – has included the name of the proprietor, and yet Find It Out is very different.

So if you can find out why Find It Out got its name, we’d love to hear from you.

If you have any information about any of today’s topics, please email