From the Darlington & Stockton Times of November 16, 1867

A LARGE audience gathered in Richmond Town Hall 150 years ago to hear an address from the honorary secretary of the Anti-Compulsory Vaccination League, Richard Gibbs of London.

"He defied any medical man in Richmond, or in all Yorkshire, to come forward and say that vaccination was a protection against the small-pox," reported the D&S, and at the end of the meeting, those present unanimously "denounced the practice of vaccination as contrary to common sense".

Elsewhere in the dale, an "alarming cycling accident" had befallen Thomas Wallace of Heggs Farm, near Reeth. "He was proceeding at a moderate speed (towards Richmond), when the cycle suddenly collapsed, throwing him violently to the ground and sustaining severe injuries to his head." This must have been a pioneering pre-Penny Farthing boneshaker bicycle with the pedals attached to the front wheel.

Although knocked unconscious, Mr Wallace seems to have survived and "an examination of the cycle showed that the frame had had a flaw in it".

November 18, 1967

THE D&S announced that Jonathan Aitken, 25, a journalist on the London Evening Standard, had been selected from 150 rivals to defend the Conservatives' 15,000 majority in Thirsk and Malton.

"Though on the face of it he is a townsman, this is not so for he was brought up in the country and knows the problems facing a rural electorate," said the D&S, supportively.

However, there was already revolt within the constituency over the selection of Aitken to replace the retiring Robin Turton, who had held the safe seat for 38 years. At the selection meeting, Lt-Col LS Starkey of Huttons Ambo Hall, Malton, had boomed: "If Mr Aitken is adopted it will be a disaster for the local association."

He was right. At the end of a good meal, another of Aitken's prospective constituents, Maj-Gen Henry Templer Alexander, showed him a document covered by the Official Secrets Act which showed that the Labour government had colluded in a civil war in Nigeria. Aitken secretly copied the document, sold it to the Sunday Telegraph for £500, and, amid the resultant furore, was forced to stand down as a candidate in 1970.

He was, of course, rehabilitated, eventually becoming John Major's defence procurement minister until "the sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play" failed to conceal his lies and he was jailed in 1999 for perjury.