A PENSIONER is going to extraordinary lengths to prevent developers eyeing up an historic part of Darlington.

Shirley Ashmore's work is also attracting international attention.

She has painstakingly traced the history of Westbrook Villas, an area with strong connections to the town's railway heritage.

Mrs Ashmore has placed all her findings on the Internet, with the aid of The Northern Echo's CommuniGate team.

Westbrook Residents' Association took action to preserve the residential street, off High Northgate, amid concerns about more development.

After discovering a wealth of information at Darlington Local Studies Centre, Mrs Ashmore approached The Northern Echo to establish the site.

It includes details about the street's Victorian beginnings, when local artists and architects including Victor Hobson and George Hoskins lived there, through to its railway links.

The area's connections with the railways have existed since 1865, when William Hobson, George Stephenson's head of passenger services, lived in a house in the street.

Nearly 450 old photographs are being added to the website, which has had feedback from relatives of former residents living as far afield as Japan and Canada.

Mrs Ashmore, 70, was born in Darlington and spent her working life in London at the British Library, before returning to Westbrook Villas in 1990.

"The community spirit is still very much alive. We have regular residents meetings and parties" she said.

To visit the website, go to www.communigate.co.uk/ne/westbrook.