THIS tile tickled the fancy of Emma Crawley when it popped up while she was working with her father in his allotment in Bellburn Lane in Darlington.

It had a name stamped on it: Durex.

Now, it is not what you are thinking. A century ago, there were several businesses selling products named Durex.

For example, HR Vaughan, of Gateshead and Fylands Bridge in Bishop Auckland made different lines of bitumen roofing felt. There was Sphinx, Rexoid and Durex which its advertising described as its “famous smooth black bitumen felt”.

However, Stanley Bros of Nuneaton in Warwickshire made Durex tiles and bricks. They patented the name in 1903, and their catalogue talks of the “excellence, colour, shape and durability” of their products which suggests they put “durability” and “excellence” together to create the brand. The company seems to have made Durex bricks into the 1960s.

By which time, they had been eclipsed by another type of Durex, something altogether very different.

The London Rubber Company patented the name Durex for its condoms in 1929. It boasted of their “durability, reliability and excellence”, and so the name of this birth control product was born.

The patent office seems to have allowed the products to share the name because they were from such different lines – you are unlikely to confuse a rooftile with a condom.

Emma very kindly shared the picture of her find with us by saying: “Something for the weekend?” Well, we do publish on a Saturday.