From the Darlington & Stockton Times, March 17, 1917

RICHMOND Town Council approved plans for a 200,000 gallon reservoir to be constructed for the grand cost of £800 to the north of the town exactly 100 years ago this week.

From at least the 16th Century, Richmond’s water supply came from the Coalsgarth springs above the racecourse, and it was piped – sometimes through hollowed out elm branches – down the daleside into the town centre, where there was an underground reservoir at the top of the Market Place.

In 1771, the old market cross on top of the reservoir was replaced by the landmark obelisk, and the reservoir was enlarged so that it could hold 12,000 gallons.

Somewhere up Hurgill Road near the racecourse, there is a Grade II listed cistern, built into the hillside, which is dated 1812. It was built to channel water from the Aislabeck springs into the town centre reservoir.

Such things were rendered obsolete in 1837 when Lord Dundas leased land at High Coalsgarth to the town council for 900 years so that a new reservoir could be built. This reservoir delivered 150 gallons a minute to the town centre and was named after the new queen, Victoria.

Come the start of the 20th Century, the Victoria Reservoir was holding 70,000 gallons. The population was growing, particularly due to the number of soldiers in the town, and demand for water was increasing exponentially – some advanced people even had flushing toilets.

So the council agreed to build a second reservoir, 55ft wide by 45ft long and 10ft deep.

Today, there are two reservoirs marked near the racecourse on the Ordnance Survey map, but both appear to have been filled in. It would be superb if someone could send us a picture of the Hurgill Road cistern and can anyone tell us if anything remains of the reservoir beneath the obelisk – we’ll have to tap very hard on the ground there to see if it rings hollow.

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March 18, 1967

“THE thousands of visitors who go to the famous white horse on the Hambleton hillside at Kilburn will be welcome – if they keep off the horse’s back!” proclaimed the D&S 50 years ago. “But if they persist in walking, running and jumping about the giant outline, they will be taking everybody for a ride.”

The horse had been created by local residents in 1857 by cutting and clearing the scrubland on the side of the hill, and ever since man had been waging a war against nature to keep the equine wonder clearly visible.

In 1967, a new voluntary committee had been formed to fight the fight and raise £5,000 “to put the horse firmly on its feet”. At the start of the winter, 350 tons of chalk clippings from Messrs Slater’s quarries had been distributed over the horse and the committee reported that these had retained their whiteness.

Said the paper: “If the public will view the results from a distance, even a few yards, the prospects are good that North Yorkshire will have its horse for another 100 years.

“An offer of practical help has come from Linton-on-Ouse air station, whose Fleet Air Arm pilots are anxious to have continued use of the White Horse as a navigational aid.”

The pilots were coming up that weekend, said the D&S, to weed, put up fences and begin the footpath

March 16, 1867

BACK 150 years ago, the D&S didn’t have modern sensibilities. “Shocking and fatal accident at Dinsdale Fish Locks Mill,” said its headline. The previous afternoon, miller Mr Horsman “commenced to oil some machinery when, by some cause or other, either his clothes became entangled in the machinery or he fell among it, and the most frightful results ensued”.

Only a youth was present on the remote site next to the River Tees to the south-east of Darlington.

“Before the machinery could be stopped, the body of the deceased was dreadfully crushed and mangled, and death was almost instantaneous,” said the D&S. “Deceased was about 40 years of age, and leaves a widow and a young family.

“After the body had been released from its horrible position, it was removed to the deceased’s home in Neasham, where it awaits a coroner’s inquiry.”