From the Darlington & Stockton Times of June 29, 1867

“Elopement of a married woman from Darlington,” said the headline in the D&S Times 150 years ago this week. It was above a piece of beautifully written tittle-tattle that could not possibly appear in today’s paper but which was undoubtedly the best read item in that issue.

“The lovers of gossip as well as the scandal-mongerers of Park Street, Darlington, have been during the past week discussing eagerly a subject which will furnish food for the tale-bearers and tattlers of that district for some time to come,” began the article.

The Park Street area was on the east bank of the River Skerne, where the inner ring-road is today but then it was full of very working class terraces.

The D&S continued: “To this class of persons, an elopement possesses a peculiar degree of interest, and in the present instance rumour, as usual, has not felt disposed to tie her tongue.

“William Naisbitt, labourer, of Bridge Street, and his wife Jane Ann, have now been married for about seven years, and though they have not been free from the thousand ills which connubial flesh is heir to, yet their matrimonial life does not seem to have been characterised by any ruptures of a more than ordinary nature.”

But last Monday, Mr Naisbitt returned home from his labours expecting to find his loving wife preparing his meal, after her hard day running their grocery shop, but instead he found nothing but “a deserted hearth”. His wife, described as “the false, fickle fair one”, had gone.

“Subsequent inquiries elicited the painful fact that his wife had taken flight with a tailor, who resided in Brunswick Street, named William Ibbitson. The worst, unkindest cut of all is that this same Ibbitson has been his own familiar friend for years and has sat in the household as his true and constant comrade.”

The “faithless pair” had been seen hurrying off to the station, well stocked with cash, provisions and as much luggage as they could carry, where they bought tickets for Harrogate.

“The woman had two children, the youngest of whom she took with her, the other being under the care of her deserted husband’s mother,” said the D&S.

It concluded: “Her parents, we are informed, occupy a respectable social position.”

July 1, 1967

FIFTY years ago this week, the D&S was reporting on an extraordinary “£10m plan to create an artificial offshore island between Redcar and Whitby”.

It was the brainchild of a Norwich businessman who wanted to build five artificial island resorts off the coast of Britain.

“Each island resort would provide facilities for 10,000 people,” said the D&S. “The structure would consist of a group of small islands, linked by road, stretching two miles out to sea. The islands would each have a different purpose – conference halls, funfairs, boating facilities, holiday flats and theatres would be included. The islands would themselves be constructed with shale from the unsightly heaps of the old Cleveland ironstone workings.”

Various officials welcomed the plan, which was going to the various councils of the area for comment and approval. Unless we have missed the remains of a huge tourist archipelago off the coast of Saltburn, we guess this plan did not leave the drawing board.