From the Darlington & Stockton Times of July 29, 1967

IN the most unsensational fashion, the D&S Times reported how the grandstand had collapsed at Teesside Show, injuring 50 people.

The paper’s full broadsheet coverage of the show was illustrated with a picture of Watson Townson of Wackerfield, near Staindrop, with his prize-winning Highland cattle called Wackerfield Alex, and there were all the results from the poultry, pigeons and rabbit sections, so there was only just room to squeeze in the drama of the day which involved unimportant humans.

“The show was halted at about 4.20pm when the scaffolding supporting the stand started to sag,” said the paper. “It buckled and quickly collapsed. Spectators were trapped when the stand fell at one end and the back of the platform was thrown forward. “A record crowd of 30,000 were shocked as the collapse took place before them.”

The Teesside Show had begun in 1944 as the Stockton Show, held in Ropner Park. When it moved to Stewart Park in Middlesbrough in 1963, its named changed to Teesside, and when the county of Cleveland was formed in 1974, its name changed again. It still meets as the Cleveland Show, but never can there have been such drama as there was at the 1967 event.

“The grandstand was cleared within ten minutes as those who were able to move hurried away from the wreckage, and about 100 men held up the sagging scaffolding while police crawled beneath to rescue trapped spectators.”

To be fair, only one of the 50 who were injured was hospitalised by the collapse – although it transpired that it was the second time in days the stand had fallen down. Erected by Eastern Counties Scaffolding of Stokesley, it had tumbled on top of a workmen and trapped him during the course of erection.

Other aspects of the show also did not go as planned. “Two old English game birds started fighting just before judging in the poultry tent, but as they were judged first and third, their injuries can't have been too bad,” said the D&S.

Police dog handlers were demonstrating in the main ring how their four-legged friends took down criminals by grasping a make-believe criminal's forearm with their ferocious teeth. “Unfortunately,” said the D&S, “a cadet Alsatian became contrary, and managed to clamp its jaws onto the unfortunate criminal's trouser seat.”

July 28, 1917

LAST week’s D&S reported how Ripon Workhouse Museum has just doubled in size with the help of Lottery money. Exactly 100 years ago, the paper was reporting how “the inmates of Ripon workhouse had their summer outing to Fountains Abbey”.

It said: “A party numbering 30, accompanied by several members of staff, were conveyed in waggonette by way of Aldfield. Several Guardians and other friends joined the party during the afternoon. Tea was served in the cloisters after which there were sports and games.

“Prizes and gifts were provided by Alderman and Mrs Metcalfe and Mr Hardcastle. Mr and Mrs FW steel sent 1.5lbs of tobacco and Mrs OW Goy sent cigarettes and sweets. Miss Ivy Brown, Ure Bank, also sent a quantity of sweets.”

July 27, 1867

NOW, there was plenty of local news in the D&S of 150 years ago, but the most read story must surely have been the one headlined “French cleanliness”.

It said: “In England there are few men or women of respectability who do not use water as an element of cleanliness; few, except the lowest labourers, who do not systematically take a bath, while in France to take a bath implies being dirty, and is only resorted to when scrubbing is necessary.

“In England, the floors of houses are systematically washed – in France, never; the dirt of fifty or a hundred years accumulates and is sprinkled with water and brushed over with an ordinary broom, the result of which is that half the dirt gets trodden into a dark, slippery, concrete mass.

“In England, provincial towns are drained and the hygiene of sewage is acknowledged and adopted. In France, no stench is more dreadful than that rising from the streets, and no filth more abominable than that which lies and rots there.

“And so in other things which pertain to health and personal comfort, France is 50 years behind England.

“But in external show and effect, in bosh, in gilding and gimcrackery, in unreality, in the stimulation of the senses, and the gratification of the appetites", said the D&S, the French were light years ahead of the English.

Little wonder that 150 years later we voted for Brexit.