IN revealing the answers to the Echo Memories' Christmas quiz, the chance arises to tell the story of one of the most curious, and elegant, buildings in Darlington town centre.

It is number two on our montage - and practically everyone who entered knew it was above Woolworth's in Northgate.

This building of columns and carved faces seems to have started life in 1889 when David Fox and his son, Charles Ewart, opened a caf here - reputedly the first use of the word caf in the North-East as all such other establishments were known as coffee-houses.

The Foxes were well-travelled, and their caf featured foods and decorations from all over the world.

Most notably was a magnificent 14th Century carved Moushurabyeh (or watercooler) screen from Cairo.

"By means of new and powerful machinery, all the processes of coffee roasting, rapid cooling, grinding etc, are continuously being carried on here, and small roasters in the window are open to the view of sight-seers," enthused the Darlington and Stockton Times.

The window was even more of a wonderment to sightseers because it was the first in a Darlington shop to be lit by an electric light - "the apparatus being worked by a silent gas engine", reported an amazed D&S.

Fox's Caf was also a pioneer of the telephone.

One of the first private lines in Darlington linked the caf with David Fox's other commercial concern: a grocery he had established in 1864 on the corner of Blackwellgate and High Row (this building was demolished in the early 1920s when Binns replaced it).

Behind the caf was an ancient outbuilding where John Wesley was said to have preached on one of his first visits to Darlington in about 1740.

The Foxes incorporated Wesley's former haunt into their caf and discovered a Queen Elizabeth shilling coin dated 1573, placed by the original builder on top of a smooth slate slab.

The coin and the Wesley connection were celebrated in this part of the caf which was known as The Oak Smoke Room.

This room became the most celebrated meeting place in Darlington, and it was said in the 1930s that the town was practically run from there.

When Charles Fox died in 1937, the caf was taken over by Kenneth McDermid, a relative of Charles' wife Fannie. In 1939, Kenneth moved the caf to Bondgate, and the splendid building was leased to Woolworth's, which had recently acquired the adjoining buildings beneath the King's Head Hotel.

Well-spotted on buildings quiz

THANK YOU to everyone who entered the Echo Memories Christmas quiz, which was kindly compiled by Keith Hancock. Many people who entered said how much they had enjoyed it.

Five groups of people spotted every building on the montage, so we had to draw the two winners, who each receive a signed copy of the magnificent Memories of Darlington 3. They are Sue Stahl and Marie Conboy of Darlington.

The other three groups of Darlingtonians - the Allinsons, the Hutchinsons and Mrs J Barkley - will receive consolation prizes.

The answers:

1 Bralby House, in Brooklyn Terrace, is on the west side of Cleveland Avenue. If anyone knows the history of this terrace, we would love to hear it.

2 Above Woolworth's, Northgate.

3 Corner of Duke Street and Skinnergate, Duke's pub built in 1931.

4 Bondgate, north side (Clark and Willis solicitors' office).

5 Northgate, west side above Dixon's shop, built in the mid-1940s by Doggarts' clothing and furniture stores, which closed in 1980.

6 Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, above main entrance. In the 1870s, Darlington held a national competition to design a grammar school to replace the ageing one in Leadyard. It was won by an architect who called himself "Efficiency and Economy". He turned out to be GG Hoskins, who went on to become responsible for most of Darlington's impressive late Victorian buildings.

7 Civic Theatre, Parkgate. Another Hoskins, built in 1907.

8 Above Northern Goldsmiths' shop on the north side of Blackwellgate. This was the photographic studio of Sydney Wood (1870-1959). The clock has been in Blackwellgate since the 1880s when, on the opposite side of the road, it graced Mr Richardson's jewellery shop.

9 Above Lloyds-TSB bank on the corner of Skinnergate and Coniscliffe Road. This was the shop of the North of England School Furnishing Company.

10 Rise Carr Inn, Whessoe Road. One of Darlington's most eccentric buildings, built in 1867 by monumental mason Robert Borrowdale.

11 Above travel agents Dawson and Sanderson, Skinnergate west side.

12 Library window above the lift entrance on the corner of Priestgate and Crown Street.

13 The County Court in Coniscliffe Road. Built in 1868 at a cost of £1,400 in the Italian Renaissance style.

14 Skinnergate Almshouses in Friends Meeting House Yard, Skinnergate.

15 Above Speedy Pepper, west side Skinnergate. This is the oriel window of the former Court Kinema which opened on February 11, 1913, and was burnt out on August 15, 1947.

16 Above hairdressers Toni and Guy, High Row. The drainpipe header on the left of the building is inscribed "IP 1767". This refers to John Pease (1727-1794), a grocer who lived here until he went bankrupt. He was ejected from town by his Quaker brethren and died in ignominy in Ravensworth.

17 Statue representing engineering on top of the old Technical College, Northgate. Opened on October 8, 1897, it was designed by GG Hoskins.

18 Number 85 Northgate, above Berties Clothing. Here Thomas Dennison, secretary of the Onward Building Society, attempted suicide in 1890, when it was found that the equivalent of £2.5m was missing from savers' accounts.

19 The Edward Pease Memorial Library, Crown Street, Priestgate corner. Opened in 1885, and another Hoskins building - although this photograph is of the 1933 extension designed to match Hoskins' plans.

20 Above Nationwide Building Society, south side of Bondgate, built just after the start of the 20th Century by the Laverick brothers for their confectionery shop. There was a mock Tudor caf on the first floor and just beneath its window the word "Lavericks" can still be made out.

21 Above the main door to St Cuthbert's Church. Carved for the 1862 restoration of the church, the statue shows St Cuthbert holding King Oswald's head.

22 Above a takeaway on Northgate east side. This tiled plaque was hastily erected in 1925 to mark the centenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

23 Solicitors Clark and Willis' offices on the north side of Bondgate above John Joyce's bookmakers. Built in 1925 as a confectioner's shop.

24 17 Northgate on the west side above a sports shop. With its circular tiles at the top, this must have been a building of distinction, but its history is elusive.

25 Tubwell Row south side, above Lunn Poly travel agents. Known as "Doric House", this is another mystery building. The plaque on it says: "A unique example in Darlington of cast iron structure.

A rocky voyage for the landlubbers lying down below

Jonathan Moscrop grew up in the Albert Hill area of Darlington where his family were ironworkers.

In the late 1870s, heavy industry was hit by a dreadful recession that reduced many working class people to poverty.

Johnathan, and his friends the Matthews family from Darlington, decided to emigrate to anew life in New Zealing. This is the second extract from the diary he kept on the voyage.

Having set sail from the Clyde, terrible seasickness overwhelms Jonathan Moscrop, the landlubber from Darlington, as he begins his voyage to a new life in New Zealand

Friday, January 31, 1879

The tugboat left us about 20 past seven this morning when we were near the west coast of Ireland and we have now a lot of sail on her and we have a favourable wind, so that we are bowling along in good style.

Sarah Matthews has been sick this morning and I am not a long way off the same feeling.

There is such a motion on the vessel it makes us land lubbers feel dizzy; but perhaps that will wear off.

Thursday, February 6

This is the first time I have done any writing since Friday as I have been so horribly sick. I think I never had anything like it before. For three or four days I lay like a log of wood, hardly caring for anything. I know of nothing more terrible than a heavy dose of sea sickness and we - that is Matthews family and myself - have had more than our share. Emma and one of the twins have escaped and also Mr M, but all the rest have been - and still are - very bad. In fact, they hardly can walk about.

I have not had a meal for about a week (no Yankee yarn) as I could not look at anything they have here, nearly everything being of very inferior quality. As yet there has been no regular system of giving out of stores so they have given us a week's stock of raisins and no flour for puddings and they have only let us have potatoes once. I have heard a lot of complaints.

The blooming "mug" who called himself a "doctor" (Medicine Jack) is a regular mutt, he is too much interested with the saloon passengers to care much for us lot (saloon passengers had more money than steerage ones such as Jonathan). I would like to catch him at our back door. I would wipe my boots on him, yes rather, I fancy.

People may talk about a life on the ocean wave but for my part I would prefer the more peaceful Skerne or some other noble river to this as it is too lumpy all together to be comfortable. However, we will have to grin and bear it.

Friday, February 7

I feel in better spirits today and I think I will soon be all right. I took an acidity powder last night and I think it did me good. The Matthews family seem to be mending for which I am very glad.

We have seen a great number of ships this morning. I think I counted seven all during the morning and while I write there are two in sight.

This is a busy morning as a lot of people had their boxes out of the hold examining their contents which seem to be varied.

Last night, there was a revolving light in sight for some time. I think it is at Cape Finisterre. This afternoon land has been visible for some hours, I believe it is Cape St Vincent, some part of Lisbon.

Published: 15/01/2003