From the D&S Times

April 22, 1967

THE impending elections for Northallerton Rural Council, on which there were no female councillors, were going to be “interesting”, said the D&S 50 years ago. “At Little Smeaton and Birkby, the retiring farmer member is opposed by a housewife, and at West Rounton another housewife takes on two men,” as the monstrous regiment prepared to storm the male bastion of the council chamber.

A little to the north of the Smeatons, the D&S reported: “A church which has been disused for over 50 years, is in a very dangerous condition and has no architectural merit should be taken down. This is the view of the church people and villagers of East Cowton.”

St Mary’s Church was built in 1228 about half-a-mile from the village it was supposed to serve – it may have been constructed on the site of an older place of worship. Because of the distance, it was in decay by 1629. In 1707, the village joiner patched it up so that it looked like an ugly barn. The villagers turned their backs on it so that, in 1910, a new St Mary’s was built in East Cowton.

This led the old church to decay further until 50 years ago, the vicar, Richard Berry, said it needed £4,000 to restore it. “I think to spend that sort of money on a church that could not be used would be sinful when money like that could be used to feed the starving of the world,” he said.

The D&S said: “Once before when demolition was applied for, it was opposed by the little known society of the Friends of Friendless Churches, but it is felt that even they could not oppose demolition now.”

The church was demolished in 1968.

April 21, 1917

THE body of Pte Hector Kelly, 37, of the Royal Scots Regiment stationed at Hipswell Camp, near Richmond, was discovered in full uniform in the Swale about a quarter of a mile from Richmond station. Pte Kelly was a baker from Lanarkshire who had recently returned from the front in France.

His brother-in-law William Sorbie gave evidence at the inquest. "He was at home seven weeks ago and seemed all right then and witness knew of no trouble likely to cause him to commit suicide," said the D&S 100 years ago.

But Inspector Ward reported that “on March 13 deceased was found wandering the streets after midnight and could give no account of himself. He had no pass, and was locked up and next day charged with being an absentee and handed over to the military”. This was put down to a momentary memory lapse.

The article concludes: “The coroner observed that there was no evidence to show that death was due to accident or suicide... He thought the safest verdict would be one of "found drowned".”

Pte Kelly is buried in Hipswell churchyard.

April 20, 1867

RAILWAY drivers and firemen had created their first union and were on strike 150 years ago. The North Eastern Railway responded by prosecuting the strikers for criminal breach of contract by failing to give a month’s notice.

The D&S contained lengthy reports of heated court cases in Darlington, Stockton and Bishop Auckland where the drivers were represented by Mr Roberts, of Manchester, “commonly known as the pitman’s attorney”.

Those he failed to get off were sentenced to 14 days hard labour in Durham jail, but when he had 12 enginedrivers at Bishop Auckland freed on a technicality, he “received quite an ovation (from) several hundreds of persons, cheering and shouting to the full extent of their voices”, said the D&S.