NEARLY as famous as the paper itself is the Echo’s landmark office in the centre of Darlington, on the corner of Priestgate and Crown Street.

The Echo was first published from the corner on January 1, 1870, in a former boot and shoe thread factory which faced onto Priestgate. A press hall was constructed a little later, facing on to Crown Street.

Plans to build a proper corner office emerged in 1908, but work didn’t begin until 1914. Then the First World War broke out and construction work slowed to a snail’s pace.

The office was completed by September 13, 1917, when it was formally opened by Arnold Rowntree MP, the chairman of the directors. He was presented with a silver key by editor Luther Wolstenholme to unlock the grand corner door, which was only openable from inside.

Having got through the door Mr Rowntree had a tour of the new printing palace, complete with stained glass windows in its entrance lobby, then the great and the good of the region – MPs, bishops, mayors and lords – adjourned to the nearby King’s Head Hotel for a feast and to toast the press.

Before their starters arrived, the guests had to pose for a photograph at their tables. The photographer then dashed back to the dark room in the new office and developed a couple of hundred pictures, which he handed out before the guests had finished their desserts.

In those pre-selfie days, they were amazed at the speed of the latest photographic technology.