KIRSTIE WALLS has sent in pictures of her father, Don Lowes, as a policeman in the late 1960s on point duty at the top of Victoria Road in Darlington outside the original Grange Hotel. The hotel started as a business in 1924, and when this run of 1860s Victorian properties was cleared in 1976 for the inner ring road and Sainsburys supermarket, it transferred to the nearby mansion of Southend where it was known as the New Grange Hotel.

Southend was the home of Joseph Pease which in 1904 was converted into the Immaculate Conception Grammar School. The school – and we’d love to hear memories of it – closed in 1975 ready for the building to become a hotel. Today, of course, it is the Bannatyne Hotel Darlington.

Kirstie also has pictures of her father, who for many years was the night telephonist at The Northern Echo, in Crocus Walk before the ring road roundabout was plonked at the junction of Grange Road and Victoria Road.

Crocus Walk was the tree-lined entrance avenue to the Pease mansion. It became a public park in 1897.

“We lost a huge amount of it to the new ring road, and as a tiny child I remember the larger version in spring when the whole of the ground was covered in a myriad of crocus,” says Kirstie.

Thanks to Douglas Chilton, a former director of Peases Mill and chairman of the local Conservative Association, Crocus Walk is still a spectacle. In 1980 and 1981, he donated a total of 30,000 crocus bulbs in memory of his wife, Maude, to make up for those lost to the ring road – and 40 years, those bulbs will be stirring in the ground about now ready to make a colourful spring entrance to the town.

So, and memories, pictures or information about the Victoria Road, Grange Road and Blackwellgate area would be most welcome…

CLICK HERE for Pictures of Victoria Road before the demolition of 1976

CLICK HERE for the full story of Crocus Walk

THE Page in History in Memories 508 took us back to the front page of The Northern Echo on January 16, 1961.

A cross-reference to a story inside the paper intrigued Stan Summers, the president of the Darlington Club and Institute Union: “North-East workmen’s clubs are protesting to their MPS about provisions in the new Licensing Bill. Report: Page 7.”

What were they protesting about, asked Stan.

The Bill was seeking to register working men’s clubs in the same way that pubs were registered and to give powers to the police to close them for having unsuitable premises or even “undesirable officials”.

Clubs, run by an altruistically-minded committee, regarded themselves as in need of less regulation than a commercially-minded pub. The additional red tape, said the Club & Institute Union (CIU), would threaten the closure of all 292 working men’s clubs (WMCs) in Durham, all 150 in Northumberland and leave the 20,000 club members in Cleveland (an area that stretched from Richmond to Whitby) without a club to go to.

In Darlington, all 12 WMCs were writing to the town’s Conservative MP, Anthony Bourne-Arton, to complain.

It appears as if the campaign was successful as the 1961 Licensing Act is now remembered for introducing the 10 minute drinking-up period and nothing else.

Now, while it would be fun to see how many of Durham’s 292 WMCs readers could name, that clearly isn’t practical, but what about Darlington’s 12?

The early 1960s was the peak of the WMCs. Of Darlington’s population of 80,000, about 20,000 were members of one of the 12 clubs affiliated to the CIU. How many of those 12 can you name?

Email your answers to, plus any WMC stories or pictures, or post them off to the address above, and we’ll try and come up with a definitive list.