THIS week 150 years ago, the area was agog at the antics of notorious German burglar, Ignatly Inlander.

The Echo’s sister paper, the Darlington & Stockton Times, told how in February 1869 there had been about ten burglaries at well-to-do properties in the Middlesbrough area. Among the victims had been Carl Bolckow, the nephew and heir of the successful German ironmaster Henry who had recently become Middlesbrough’s first mayor and MP.

Two North Riding policemen had arrested a suspect they had spotted in North Ormesby “carrying a bundle and smoking a very nice meerschaum pipe, which afterwards was recognised by Mr Bolckow as being one of his”.

The suspect turned out not only to be living just three doors from the Ormesby police station but also to be Inlander, a joiner by day, and a burglar by night who was notorious across Yorkshire.

They carted him off to Northallerton jail where his photograph was due to be taken.

“While the photographer had retired to the darkened apartment adjoining to make the necessary chemical preparations, Inlander, who had been momentarily left unguarded, slipped off his shoes and stockings and left the room, with the intention of making his escape,” said the D&S Times of February 20, 1869.

“He had not reckoned, however, upon the labyrinthine character of the prison in which he now found himself at large, and before he had gone far his absence was discovered, and he was pursued.

“Inlander tried to double upon his pursuers, and succeeded in getting on the house-top, where he ran along the roof with great agility.”

Remarkable agility considering he must have been dancing across the rooftops in bare feet.

“During this exciting chase, Capt Gardiner, the governor of the gaol, made his appearance, and threatened to shoot Inlander if he did not give himself up.

“The latter, after various unsuccessful attempts to get out of the way, fell from one of the prison walls to the ground, and broke his leg.

“He was, of course, soon recaptured and placed in durance, where a more strict supervision will be kept over him.”

Our recent brush with the word “strephonic” shows that there are a great number of people who enjoy an odd word, and this report throws up a couple.

“Meerschaum” is German for sea foam, although meerschaum itself is a soft white clay, called sepiolite, which is mined in Turkey and was originally believed to be solidified sea foam.

Meerschaum pipes were apparently known for providing a long, dry, flavoursome smoke – Sherlock Holmes was apparently a big fan of meerschaum pipes.

Secondly, “durance”, which is italicised in the 1869 paper. It is an old French word for “duration, lastingness” and the Oxford English Dictionary firmly marks it as obsolete.