THESE Box Brownie pictures of everyday life in the late 1940s at Willow Bridge Service Station were retrieved from a skip in London some years ago and brought back to the garage, between Barton and Darlington.

The Northern Echo:

A lady called Ada, we think her surname was Stephenson, and her car at the Willow Bridge Service Station on October 10, 1946. The front door opened backwards. Our old car spotters can surely identify this vehicle: please email if you can

They appear to show Arthur Stephenson, who built the garage in 1936, and his family, who also had a smallholding beside the Great North Road.

The Northern Echo:

Looking through the pumps at the front of the art deco Willow Bridge Service Station

From the album, we learn that they had a pig called Richard and a dog called Roger who lost his life in the nearby Clow Beck.

The Northern Echo:

There were great japes at Willow Bridge on delivery day in the 1940s

Some pictures are dated October 1946 and others are from September 1950.

The Northern Echo:

In September 1950, a low loader carrying a steam engine called at Willow Bridge. We assume the low loader belongs to Robert McAlpine & Company, and we wondered whether the loco could have come from nearby Barton quarry

Everyday events included cars turning up for petrol, an AA patrolman passing by and tankers delivering fuel.

The Northern Echo:

An aerial view of Willow Bridge from 1963

Not-so-everyday events included a steam locomotive on a McAlpine lorry turning up and, even more remarkably, a wandering elephant calling in for some water. The passing pachyderm was on its way from Darlington where presumably it had just performed.

The Northern Echo:

The elephant and its handler at Willow Bridge in the late 1940s

If you can tell us anything about the pictures, please email

The pictures first came to our attention via the Melsonby Memories and More Facebook page which is after pictures and stories about Melsonby and the surrounding area. The group is easily found by searching Facebook – and while you are at it, don't forget the Memories Facebook group as well. With thanks to Neil Hillier

JUST to prove that in the old days of travel, every road junction really did have a hostelry on it, let’s go a little south of Willow Bridge to Scotch Corner, where regular readers will know that the ancient Three Tuns public house was replaced by the current hotel just before the outbreak of the Second World War.

The Northern Echo:

The Blue Anchor

A hundred yards to the south of the Tuns on the Great North Road was the Crown and Anchor. In its latter years, it was known as the Dalesway Lodge, and it has stood empty for the last five or so years. If you peel back its rendering and rather strange 1960s entrance bridge, there is probably an ancient pub underneath.

Another hundred yards south was where the road to Richmond turned off the main road. This was known as Blue Anchor Corner, after the pub/farm which stood there.

“I lived at Blue Anchor during the war and many years after, and we had land and buildings on both sides of the A1,” says Rachel Ritchie, now in Thirsk. “We used to drive cattle up and down from one set of buildings to another, and during the war, our cart horses were turned out of the stable on the west side and they walked across the A1 by themselves to get a drink of water at a pond at the east side.”

The Northern Echo:

Looking south down the A1 from a Scotch Corner Hotel window, in 1970. Blue Anchor Farm can be seen in the top right hand in the distance. The building on the far side of the dual carriageway is the Crown and Anchor, lately the Dalesway Lodge

As well as a farmhouse, Blue Anchor had doubled as a roadside inn. “In our dining room, there was a little window so that the people could hold their horses and carriages on the outside while they were having a drink inside,” says Rachel.

The Northern Echo:

The Dalesway as seen on Google StreetView

The Blue Anchor surviving the dualling of the road in the 1950s, but was demolished in 1972 when the roads were reconfigured. However, its name lives on, as a new roundabout has been created to give access into the planned designer outlet village. It is called the Blue Anchor Corner Roundabout.