“AS a group of young Yarm Road area apprentices, we would meet up after a hard week’s work on a Friday at 5.30pm at the lost pub of the Hope Inn,” says Mark Anderson of Middleton St George, embarking on a late 1980s crawl of lost Darlington pubs.

“We would sit up the ‘top end’ of the Hope and play group killer darts for a couple of hours before making our way into town via The Albion – which is still open – and then the lost pub of Doc’s Orders, which was owned by Mick Docherty and his father, the former Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty.”

Doc’s Orders, in the shadow of St John’s Church, had been a co-op store until 1986 when the Dochertys expensively converted it into a pub with a snooker hall upstairs. Tommy “the Doc” Docherty, now 92, was a legendary manager of Chelsea, Scotland and United. His eldest son Mick, an England youth international, knew this area having finished his playing career at Sunderland and then acted as their caretaker manager in 1981, saving them from relegation.

After that, he did six months as Hartlepool manger before moving into pubs.

“Doc’s Orders was initially popular,” remembers Mark. “On a Sunday afternoon, Tommy would sometimes drop in. We would play pool at one end of the pub and he would sit, usually with two other people, sipping copious amounts of the best champagne – I’m not sure if he brought it with him as it was a true working class beer and lager pub.”

The Dochertys sold Doc’s Orders, which was a noted live music venue, in the late 1980s after which it starting putting on go-go dancers.

However, the go-go girls, who came from the bright lights of Newcastle, insisted on removing their tops for the last dance, and so became strippers. This aroused the interest of the police as it appeared to contravene Doc’s Orders’ licence.

At a licensing meeting in 1989, the owner, Derek Parker, told Darlington council he could not control the girls. He said: "We would prefer the go-go dancers not to take their tops off, but they still do it.”

The dancing, topless or otherwise, was stopped, and then Doc’s was hit by a fire. It struggled on until 1993 when it closed, only to be reborn as Busters. More recently, it has become Bank Top Central.

“From Doc’s Orders,” continues Mark, “we would take the bus to the town centre, and head for another lost pub, the Old Coaching House in Houndgate.”

The Northern Echo:

We know little about the Old Coaching House, except that it doesn’t look very old or much like a coaching house. It closed in 1992.

“Once we had finished there, we would go to another lost pub, the Collectors Arms, which was up the stairs above a shop in Houndgate,” continues Mark. “It was there that Darlington Camra was formed in 1982!

The Northern Echo:

“Last pub of the night before we hit the nightclubs would have been another lost one: Flix Bar. This was built in the cafe of the old bowling alley behind the library. It was a state of the art, new type of pub and was very popular. It had a dancefloor, even though it wasn't a nightclub, and chrome furnishings.

“I remember watching the new and exciting MTV on the big video screens for the first time in there!”

Mark clearly undertook a great deal of research in the late 1980s to be able to compile this article, so we are very grateful to him.

He ended up at Flix which, as he says, began life in May 1966 as the Magnet Bowl.

The Northern Echo:

This was when ten pin bowling was the hottest thing in the world, and Darlington had several top national players. However, the craze quickly cooled, and the Bowl closed in February 1970. In the 1980s, it became the Flix late bar downstairs with Movies nightclub upstairs – you entered via an outside fire escape directly behind the library.

Movies became Bee Jays and then Club Lucys in the 1990s, while Flix was renamed Brannegans. They closed about the turn of the century and the whole building was taken over by Sports Direct, which has only recently moved out.