THE Northern Echo has a long and proud history of standing up for its local community, of getting laws changed, improving living conditions and speaking out against unfairness.

It all stems back to WT Stead, who edited the paper soon after it was founded in 1870. He saw being in the editor’s chair as “a glorious opportunity of attacking the devil” – by which he meant tackling the injustices which were all around. It was in Darlington that he began his work on outlawing child prostitution that made him nationally famous.

Read more: Bilsdale Transmitter update: BBC agree to refund licence fee after no TV signal

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: How events unfolded and left thousands with no TV signal​

In the 1960s, under legendary editor Sir Harold Evans, the Echo campaigned to clean up air pollution on Teesside, to get the cervical smear introduced to the NHS to save lives, and to get Durham cathedral illuminated. Its campaign to get a posthumous pardon for Timothy Evans, an unfortunate man executed for a murder it was later proved he did not commit, effectively ended the death sentence.

In the last 25 years, the Echo has campaigned to change archaic laws like the Year and A Day rule which prevented someone being charged with murder if their victim died more than 366 days after their assault, and the Double Jeopardy law which, framed 800 years ago, prevented someone being charged with the same offence twice – even if new evidence had emerged.

It campaigned to get NHS cardiac waiting times reduced in line with other European countries, and it played a pivotal role in raising half-a-million pounds, following Princess Diana’s death, to open a children’s hospice, the Butterwick, in the Tees Valley.

Most recently, it exposed the Church of England’s secret plan to sell off the Zurbaran paintings in Auckland Castle, which has led to the town’s extraordinary renaissance as a visitor destination, and it fought for the Hitachi train-building plant to be located in Aycliffe.

It campaigned for 300 Department of Education jobs to stay in Darlington and then provided vocal support for moves to relocate part of the Treasury to the town.

Now, as it forensically examines the Government's Levelling Up agenda, it has once more railed against a basic injustice: people not getting the service they paid for. Just as it has for the last 150 years, its voice has been heard and another wrong has been righted.


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054