LAST week, we told of the great landmark on the A167 between Darlington and Northallerton: Sample’s saddlery, which, for perhaps 200 years, was on a sharp corner in Great Smeaton.

The Northern Echo:

Harry Sample's saddlery on the A167 at Great Smeaton. For the full story, and pictures, of Sample's intriguing saddlery, click here

But what, asks Paul Reid, is the other landmark on the A167: a tall, curious concrete structure in a field where the B1263 heads west to the Cowtons and Scorton (below).

The Northern Echo: The other landmark on the A167 between Darlington and Northallerton - but what is it?

We have absolutely no idea.

But we do know that this stretch of the A167 – the Great North Road – once used to have a most un-PC name and was steeped in notoriety.

As the road dropped down from Smeaton, it wrapped itself around the west side of Plantation House and did a 90 degree turn as it began the climb north. It then put in a couple of pronounced wobbles before straightening itself at the top of the hill for the run into Dalton-on-Tees and Croft-on-Tees.

The Northern Echo: Black Man\'s Corners, between Great Smeaton and Darlington

This bendy section was known as Black Man’s Corners, and it was as notorious as Dead Man’s Curve.

Apparently, there was a ghostly figure of a man dressed in black who stood halfway around the first of Black Man’s Corners. He was always there by the roadside as a driver approached on a foggy night but when he was past and he looked in the rear view mirror, the man in black was gone – and by then, it was too late, the driver had lost the course of the corner, lost control of the car and so skidded off the road.

Perhaps the spectre was the victim of a fatal accident on the spot some years earlier; perhaps he was just some kind of siren, luring the innocent to their deaths. Or perhaps he was never there at all; perhaps he was just an excuse for all the drivers who lost control on the black ice that collected on the corner at the bottom of the hill.

The road was straightened in 1973 so the A167 now runs to the east of Plantation House. You can still see the old curves, which are the ghosts of the old road: one lies in a wood and the other has been taken over by the council for the storage of road chippings.

If you can tell us another about the curious concrete construction, we’d like to hear from you; if you can tell us anything about the ghost of Black Man’s Corners, we’d love to hear from you…