From this newspaper… March 31, 1917

ON Page 2 of the Darlington & Stockton Times newspaper 100 years ago, it was reported that Ripon had said that the city had been refused permission to buy a new motorised fire engine because the manufacturers were too pressed by the war effort.

“The mayor said that the manual fire engine had been dismantled and that they had no fire engine at all in the city,” said the D&S.

On Page 7, there was a report that the city’s spa baths had caught fire at 3am. It said that the brigade had turned out with “great promptitude” and had soon had two full jets off the water mains playing on the flames, which were extinguished by 5am.

The spa baths, of course, are one of the great totems of Ripon. With sulphurous water piped from springs four miles away, they had been opened in 1904 by Princess Henry of Battenberg accompanied by her daughter, Princess Ena.

Princess Henry was really Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter who married Prince Henry of Battenberg, and so lost the right to be known by her own name (please insert your own joke about not being able to have your own princely slice of cake and being able to eat it). Their daughter was Princess Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena who, as the D&S noted in 1917, had married King Alfonso XIII of Spain.

In the fire, “the whole of the ladies portion, containing four baths with dressing rooms, had been destroyed”, said the D&S.

“During the past two years the building has be in great demand by the troops for fresh water baths. There has also been considerable increase in the receipts for sulphur water baths and drinks.”

The paper concluded: “It is curious that the first fire that should occur in the city since the dismantling of the old fire engine should be on corporation property, but the water manager is assured that had the engine been available, it would not have been used as the supply of water from the mains was more than ample.”

April 1, 1967

TO continue the bathing theme, 50 years ago, Northallerton Urban Council received good news about the popularity of the Memorial Swimming Baths.

This pool, in Forest Road near the Friarage Hospital, had been the town’s rather delayed memorial to its Second World War soldiers. It had started a memorial fund in 1945 and a referendum in 1956 chose to spend the money on the town’s first swimming pool, which opened in June 1961.

“The chairman of the management committee, Cllr William Wake, said that in the 12 months up to Tuesday last, 140,000 people had paid to swim, including over 50,000 schoolchildren,” reported the D&S. “He said last year was the best since the Bath opened.

“Cllr Kenneth Calvert said the result justified the hard work of the war memorial committee members who built the bath and handed it over to the council.”

In 1990, the memorial baths were replaced by the £2.3m leisure complex at Stone Cross.

March 30, 1867

THERE had been a “melancholy occurrence” near Hipswell.

Farmer Mr Lofthouse, 60, had been returning from Richmond market to his home at Tunstall on horseback when he attempted to cross a swollen stream – presumably this is Sour Beck which becomes Brough Beck before emptying into the Swale at Catterick.

His horse stumbled, he fell and was swept away by the current. “He was seen for some distance floating down, appearing to be unsensible from the first,” said the D&S. “It is feared he may have been carried some five miles downstream into the Swale, which has been swollen to a great height. His coat and handkerchief have been found about two miles from where he had fallen in.”

Meanwhile in Darlington, Diana Lawson admitted stealing two blankets, two sheets and two bed quilts from her lodgings and pawning them. She was sentenced to three months’ hard labour.

“The prisoner, who is a victim of the consumption of laudanum, was removed from the dock, the prospect of being deprived her favourite narcotic seeming to excite her very much,” said the D&S.

They hadn’t invented shooting galleries in those days.