STARTING a blue plaque scheme that celebrates a town’s great historical stories will be one of the first projects for a Labour candidate if she is elected on July 4.

Lola McEvoy is this weekend launching her idea to mark buildings in Darlington, which is one of the few places in the country never to have had an official scheme, with interesting connections to the past.

“I think it would be fantastic if we could celebrate all our amazing people,” she said, standing in Northgate where there are no plaques that might help unlock the street’s rich railway history. “It’ll not just be where a rich man lived and it won’t all be industry, but it could also be where a fascinating event took place, and I’ll need everybody’s help to find these stories.

“Since I was chosen as the Labour candidate, I’ve met so many incredible people with stories to tell – one person was telling me about the pub in the Market Place where hundreds of soldiers gathered before they went off to the Somme in the First World War.”

Lola McEvoy explains her blue plaque idea to the landlord of the Railway Tavern, Stephen Findlater

Ms McEvoy, who describes herself as “a bit of a history nerd”, said several other people had mentioned the lack of a scheme to her, and that she had been inspired by last year’s mayor, Cllr Jan Cossins, who, along with The Northern Echo, had placed a blue plaque on the home in Abbey Road of the first female councillor who had been elected 100 years ago.

“This will be one of the first things I do if I am elected, with the help of the town’s historians – we can’t just sit back,” she said. “I grew up in Westbrook Villas in the shadow of the railway museum, and the development at Hopetown is brilliant for the railway anniversary next year, but the cycling and walking path along the trackbed is unlikely to be complete until 2027 and that, frankly, is embarrassing.

“My husband’s grandma was an Aycliffe Angel and she took the bus every morning from Harrowgate Hill up to the factory, and in recent years, the Angels have been commemorated but there are lots of stories in Darlington that we should be celebrating – for instance, there’s nothing on Patons & Baldwins at Lingfield Point to say this was the world’s largest wool factory where thousands of women worked.”

Ms McEvoy is standing against the Conservatives’ Peter Gibson who, as The Northern Echo reported earlier this month, presented a bell to Darlington market to make up for one that was lost many decades ago. Also standing are Matthew Snedker (Green), Simon Thorley (Liberal Democrat), and Michael Walker (Reform UK).


Lola McEvoy inside the Railway Tavern in Northgate. The pub dates from 1826 and is probably the first in the world to have "railway" in its name