OUR trawl through The Northern Echo's photo-archives looking for the lost pubs of Darlington last week took us to the Old Coaching House in Houndgate in the late 1970s, which had previously been the Olde Taverne in the Towne.

Some people recalled it as a very lively place with motorbikes flying up and down the cellar stairs; others recalled that into the early 1980s, you could get a decent grilled meal among the rafters of its attic restaurant.

And a few people were just confused: was the Old Coaching House the same as the Coachman, they asked.

No. The Coachman was the name given in 1990 to the North Eastern Hotel at the top of Victoria Road beside Bank Top station.

The station’s Victoria Road entrance, with its grand clock tower, was supposed to be the main entrance, although nearly everyone today sneaks up the ramp from Parkgate.

The station opened, without ceremony, on July 1, 1887, and the North Eastern Hotel was completed soon after as a classic commercial travellers’ resting place.

Its proximity to the station also made it a natural venue for meetings, particularly for bodies like football leagues, whose representatives converged on it from across the region. On April 2, 1889, the second Northern League meeting, for instance, was held at the North Eastern.

As the nature of travel and business changed, so the North-Eastern had to change. The Northern Echo’s archives contain pictures from a refurbishment of 1968 where some of the rooms have been refurbished to contain en suite shower-rooms, but it is not a 21st Century idea of comfort.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the hotel’s bar which opened out onto Pensbury Street operated as a place for locals, as well as for travellers. It was called The Ostler.

In 1990, the 21-bedroom hotel was bought from the Whitbread brewery company by a Tyneside company of property developers, Onyx, which was chaired, rather bizarrely, by Norman Tebbit, the former Employment Secretary who was regarded as the hardline face of Thatcherism.

On October 24, 1990, Mr Tebbit arrived at the North-Eastern to relaunch it after another refurb and to unveil its new name: the Coachman.

Mr Tebbit even said he remembered the hotel from the months in 1951 when he was stationed at RAF Middleton St George. During his National Service, Mr Tebbit flew the Meteor jets which were notorious for crashing – in 1954, while stationed at Cambridge, he had to smash his way out of a burning Meteor.

The Coachman continued trading until 2015, when it was boarded up. In December 2017, it was announced that it would be converted into 39 one bedroom apartments to tie in with the planned redevelopment of the Bank Top area. The boarding has even come down from the windows, so perhaps a new life beckons for the North Eastern.

l Any stories or tales from the North Eastern? Please email chris.lloyd@nne.co.uk

AS well as pubs and hotels, Darlington has lost breweries. A century ago, the town had four:

Haughton Road Brewery

THIS was behind the Havelock Arms – the “Roundhouse” pub which has already featured in our lost pubs series – and dates from the 1870s, with its beer made with water from its own artesian well. It was probably the biggest of Darlington’s breweries.

It was run by the Clayhills family, and when in 1931, Thomas Clayhills-Henderson died, it was sold to John Smith’s Tadcaster Brewery. With it, were 41 Clayhills pubs, including the Hope Inn in Yarm Road, the Three Crowns in Archer Street, the Travellers Rest in Cockerton, the Dolphin Hotel in the Market Place, Golden Cock in Tubwell Row, Grey Horse at Bank Top, the Grey Horse Inn in Haughton; Curriers Arms in Commercial Street, the Baydale Beck, the Fighting Cocks at Middleton St George, and the Foresters at Coatham Mundeville.

Brewing at Haughton Road ceased almost immediately after the takeover.

Hindes’ Brewery

IT was in Ridsdale Street, off Yarm Road in the Eastbourne area of town. It was founded in 1871 by Thomas Perkin Hinde and his brother George Ridsdale Hinde, whose father was landlord at the Waterloo Hotel, which was on the site of the Dolphin Centre.

TP Hinde‘s first job in the 1850s was in the telegraph service in York, but one day he overslept and failed to telegraph to northern newspapers the vital news that Britain had concluded peace with Russia at the end of the Crimean War. He immediately resigned, and emigrated with his brother to New Zealand, where they joined the army, fought against Maoris, narrowly escaped an ambush and returned to Darlington to start their brewery.

After four years, they sold up and went fruit-growing and wine-making in California until they heard that their old brewery had failed and was up for sale again.

So in 1885, the Hinde brothers returned to Darlington and to brewing. They passed their brewery onto Thomas’ son, Thomas Morton Hinde, who was mayor of Darlington in 1921. After his death, the brewery and its 14 pubs were taken over by John Smith, and again brewing ceased in Darlington.

Does anything remain of this brewery in Ridsdale Street?

Victoria Brewery

IT was behind Fry and I'Anson streets in Rise Carr, and was established in the 1870s by Edward Manners, who went on to become mayor of Darlington. It was also taken over Smiths in the 1920s, when brewing ceased.

Plews Brewery

BEHIND Houndgate in the town centre was a fourth brewery, occupying a one acre site, which in the late 1960s was converted into the Olde Taverne in the Towne and so became our Old Coaching House in the 1970s.

The brewery was established in the mid 19th Century by Nathaniel Plews, whose father, Henry, had the large Vale of Mowbray brewery at Leeming Bar, near Bedale. Nathaniel had a finger in many pies in Darlington – he was a banker and a railway director – and he handed his business onto his son, Thomas, who lived in the Woodlands (now St Teresa’s Hospice) and was mayor of Darlington in 1875.

So this Quaker Temperance town has had at least three brewers as mayors…

In 1875, Thomas started a malting house on Neasham Road, beside the East Coast Main Line. It grew to cover seven acres – today the Matalan trading estate is on its site. In a malting house, grain is steeped in water and then dried to turn it into malt so that it is ready for the brewing process.

All of the Plews family’s brewing interests, from Leeming Bar to Darlington, including 100 pubs, were sold to Camerons Brewery, of Hartlepool, in 1925 for £250,000, and once again, brewing ceased in Darlington.