IN the early 1970s, Michael Neave was head chef of the Coaching House Inn in Darlington’s Houndgate, although most people knew it by its previous name of the Olde Tavern in the Town, or just “the Tavern”.

It is hard to believe that in this complex there were six different venues which could take 800 or so people.

It was a Schooner Inn, which was the brewery company Watney’s version of a Berni inn.

At the front was the Doubles Bar, which was a lounge which specialised in cheap double shots of drinks, and it could hold 80 people. Also at the front was the Hounds public bar, which could take 200.

“Downstairs was the Cellar Bar which had a barge for a bar,” says Michael. The Cellar catered briefly for a younger crowd of 150, but as it only had one point of access, it was soon closed on safety grounds.

In the courtyard was the Push and Pull Bar, which took 200 people, and the Gridiron Grill, where about 80 people could dine on gammon and fish dishes, as long as they avoided the old horsedrawn carts that were dotted about.

And upstairs, where Michael worked, was the Attic restaurant, which was quite smart with its a la carte menu. It had up to 150 covers.

Michael was there for three years from 1972, when the complex was managed by a dapper fellow called Frederick Rook, but when it became clear that Schooner was going to sell, Michael moved on, and up, eventually working at Claridges and Kensington Palace in London.

We think it closed in about 1976 and was derelict for a while before being converted into units. But what was it originally?