“IT’S nicknamed ‘jawney inter spayus’ and the puzzled people of Ebchester could be forgiven for thinking yesterday that this giant 8ft bottle of fulsome Newcastle Brown Ale was primed for orbit,” said The Northern Echo on September 4, 1971, alongside a most peculiar picture of what appeared to be a spaceship about to take off.

“Perched on a 30ft monument in the fields of north-west Durham, the giant bottle stood surrounded by crowds and cameramen,” the paper explained. “But a drunk’s dream had not come true. It was the manmade star of a television commercial…a monument to the ‘Geordie’s brew’.”

The advert was screened regularly on local TV, usually around the Coronation Street spot, and now the people who live in the house that was converted into a pub for 24 hours would love to see the footage.

Sarah and Peter Thew have been searching for it for some years for no avail, so if anyone perhaps has a copy or can point them in a new direction, they’d love to hear from them.

It was Peter’s parents, Alan and Eleanor Thew, who lived in the ‘pub’ in 1971 when the film crew descended. It is actually at Newlands, just outside Ebchester, and may have been one of the farms that the fake Countess of Derwentwater riotously laid claim to 150 years ago, as we told in Memories 457.

Their house had been done up externally to look like the North Star pub, and the camera poked through a window where a couple of drinkers were standing with glasses of Newcy Broon in their hands.

The Echo’s report into the explained: “The day’s filming began in a nearby cottage, converted into a pub for the occasion. The script was simplicity itself…scenes of general enjoyment, appropriate quaffing of Newcastle Brown and a ‘regular’ pronouncing that a monument should be erected to it.

“After shots from a helicopter of the surrounding countryside (taking in Consett steelworks – source of many a strong thirst) the giant bottle is revealed in all its glory.”

Peter says: “The column and bottle were polystyrene and they were lifted into place by the helicopter that you can see parked in the field in your photograph.

“The North Star sign was only on the house for a couple of days, but it must have been pretty convincing as on the day the photo was taken, two lots of people stopped expecting to get a pint!” And he adds: “My father never received any money for the advert, but he was promised a ride in the helicopter – but that didn't happen!”

So does anyone have a video of it or can you point them to somewhere which might be able to help? Either email chris.lloyd@nne.co.uk or peterthew@hotmail.co.uk.

Not even the internet can offer up footage of the Newcastle Brown advert, but it does reveal that 50 years ago, many Newcastle Brown adverts featured the well-known Geordie opera singer Owen Brannigan singing these words to the tune of Cushie Butterfield:

If you want a beer that’s perfection indeed

I give you a guide to fulfilling your need,

At home by the fireside, in club or in bar

The sign of good taste is the famous blue star.

It’s the strong beer, it’s the bottled beer

With the North’s biggest sale,

For complete satisfaction

Newcastle Brown Ale,

Newcastle Brown Ale.

WE have all sorts of musical instruments appearing in our sales, some rarer than others, some noisier than others, from drum kits to violins to guitars to wind instruments.

What I consider to be one of the rarer ones is a concertina, in good working order and in its original wooden case, which is in our sale on Tuesday. It has a hexagonal body with 48 buttons and 5-fold bellows. Even its mahogany box is in good condition.

It is unmarked in terms of maker but is likely to be an English example more than 100 years old.

The concertina is an English and German invention and dates back to the 1830s. It was very popular at the turn of the 20th Century as it was a staple of Irish folk music.

I’m hopeful for this one as it is in such good condition with all the tiny 48 buttons playing their individual sounds. It should benefit from worldwide interest via the internet and with a pre-sale estimate of £200-£300 should bring joy to the purchaser.

The sale on Tuesday starts 10am, with viewing in our saleroom over the weekend and on Monday.

Peter Robinson

Thomas Watson Auctioneers, Northumberland Street, Darlington.

ON July 30, Swaledale was inundated by 11.3cms of rain which fell in just four hours, overwhelming the dale in a way that living memory could not remember.

One of the casualties, as we told on these pages, was the best preserved smelt mill in the Yorkshire Dales above Grinton, beside the Cogden Gill Beck.

But the July stormcloud exploded with such force that water rushed down the gill with such power that it ripped up a 40 metre section of covered culvert which had carried the beck around the mill since 1820.

At first, the rubble from the culvert blocked the gill, causing the water to back up into the mill to the height of several feet.

Then the water smashed through the blockage and tore down the dale, ripping up the Cogden Gill Beck – one of the famous Tour de France bridges – as it went before covering the lower fields with two centuries’ worth of industrial debris.

It also left the smelt mill at risk, as we reported on these pages in September. Another storm would surely undermine the 200-year-old mill building and bring it down, but, we said, the North Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority was determined to act to protect the Scheduled Monument.

And, in the nick of time, it did. Contractor Peter Iveson of Hawes finished placing rock armour along the banks of the beck, effectively replacing the stone walls of the lost culvert, on the morning of Saturday, February 9.

On Sunday, February 10, Storm Ciara burst into Swaledale followed a week later by Storm Dennis.

While parts of the dale were inundated and damaged once again, the smelt mill survived unharmed, and so is worth visiting – it’s only a short walk up from the layby beside the temporary bridge over Cogden Gill.

REGULAR readers will know of our peculiar interest in roadside remnants, and so we were delighted on a recent trip to Wensleydale to spot a stone which had us leaping out of the car into the teeth of an almighty gale to get a picture.

Firstly, on a single track road called Long Band which goes from Swaledale over the top and down into Askrigg there’s a fabulous boundary stone. It is as the road goes beneath the highest point between the two dales – this is a point known by three wondrous names: Tarn Seat, or Conny Tammy Currack, or The Fleak.

The stone is on Fleak Moss at a spot called Windgates Currack.

But all it has got carved into it is a great, big “B”. In a place populated by such exotic names, it can’t surely just be B for boundary. There must be more to it than that – please let us know.

MEMORIES is honoured to have a whole window dedicated to its new book, Secret Darlington, in Waterstones in the town’s Cornmill Centre. A whole window!

The window tells how we will be doing a signing session there between 11am and 1pm on Saturday, March 28. Please come along, even just for a chat – there’s two full hours to fill.

At 2pm on Friday, March 27, we’ll be giving the world premiere of an illustrated talk which is based on the book in Darlington library. The event is free, but places do need to be booked by calling 01325-349630 or emailing local.studies@darlington.gov.uk

The obvious thing to tempt you along would be to tell you what is in the talk, but we can’t do that because a) it’s not written yet and b) it’s a secret, obviously…