From the Darlington & Stockton Times of January 28, 1871

NORTHALLERTON had begun fundraising 150 years ago to recast the two oldest bells in its church and to buy two new ones to make a peel of eight.

An entertainment was held in the Golden Lion Assembly Rooms. “Part one comprised 37 photographic views of English cathedrals, shown by the oxyhydrogen light, illustrating the architectural beauties of 13 cathedral churches,” said the D&S Times. “Part two consisted of illustrations of Cook’s Trip to Egypt, the Nile and Palestine – 48 pictures, for the most part views of the gigantic remains of the wonderful cities of the past.”

Bad weather prevented a huge turnout, but the entertainment meant £125 out of the required £285 had been raised. However, it was not until 1898 that the bell project was finished.

This form of entertainment was obviously the rage 150 years ago. The same edition contained a report of Mr W Fieldhouse’s magic lantern evening in the Rokeby schoolroom, near Great Bridge – the schoolroom, and its neighbouring church, now stand beside the A66 dual carriageway.

“At the close of the evening, Mr Fieldhouse explained the peculiarity of the light he used, and demonstrated the intensity of the heat of the flame by the rapid combustion of steel pens,” said the D&S.

“The entertainment lasted an hour and a half and evidently gave great satisfaction if judgment may be formed from the hearty way in which the company cheered Mr Fieldhouse.”

What would they have made of Powerpoint presentations over Zoom?

Another bit of excitement 150 years ago was to be found in Darlington and reported under the headline: “An unwelcome customer”.

“On Thursday evening,” said the D&S, “as a cow belonging to Mr Henderson was being driven through the town, it entered the drapery establishment of Mr W Griffiths, Northgate, where it did considerable damage, besides occasioning no small amount of terror and consternation to the inmates.”

Presumably, though, a cow in a haberdashery outlet cannot cause as much damage as a bull in a china shop.