From the Darlington & Stockton Times of August 1, 1868

THE new Catholic church in Richmond had been opened with a Pontifical High Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Westminster attended by an “influential congregation” of 450 people.

The Church of Saints Joseph and Francis Xavier had been designed by George Goldie, a renowned Catholic architect who was building the nearby convent to a similar design in the same stone.

The new church had been designed with traditional Yorkshire churches in mind, including those at Fountains and Byland abbeys.

The D&S said: “A lofty and elegant bell turret rises at the end of the atrium, forming a striking feature, containing a sweet toned bell, and giving access to an organ gallery within the church.”

The paper was obviously taken by the sermon of the archbishop, the Most Reverend Dr Manning, as it devoted a huge broadsheet column of small type to it. The archbishop was certainly singing for his supper that day, because immediately after the service, he chaired a public luncheon, attended by 200 in the old Catholic chapel in Newbiggin, where he talked some more – the D&S devoting another dense column to his views on disestablishmentarianism.

Perhaps the most telling of all the sentences is the one that says: “We understand that about £3,000 is its cost, inclusive of fittings.”

According to the Bank of England’s Inflation Calculator, that’s more than £325,000 in today’s values. The parish priest, Fr William Strickland, was admonished by his superiors for such extravagance, and he was not popular with his parishioners who were plunged into great debt.

Meanwhile, in Darlington, another landmark building was rising: the County Court in Coniscliffe Road. Unfortunately, on June 23, when labourer Benjamin Kidd was “securing some ropes, he fell from the scaffold and sustained serious injuries, amongst which was a fractured thigh”.

After lingering five weeks in the cottage hospital, he died 150 years ago this week.

August 3, 1968

WITHOUT wishing to cast any aspersions, there was a very intriguing story under the headline “haulier wins appeal at Northallerton” in the paper of 50 years ago.

George Frankland, of the Manor House, West Layton, had been fined £25 and banned for driving for 12 months after he had been found slumped drunk and incoherent over the wheel of his car with the engine running by the side of the A1 at Scurragh Lane, Richmond. Magistrates had convicted him of “attempting to drive a car having consumed alcohol above the permitted limit”.

But in his appeal, Mr Frankland brought new evidence that his wife, Jeanette, had in fact been driving that night. They had been to a Darlington nightclub and had quarrelled on the way home.

“Mrs Frankland said she had got out of the car and left it with the headlights on and the engine running and walked home,” said the D&S.

A babysitter was produced, and she gave evidence that Mrs Frankland had indeed arrived at the Manor “distressed at six in the morning, having walked home”.

Noting that the conviction had been quashed as there was no evidence that Mr Frankland had actually driven the car, despite its running engine and his hands on the steering wheel, the D&S said: “Mr Frankland had brought grave suspicion on himself by not telling the police what the situation was, that he was not driving that night, and that his wife had been.”

Although, to be fair to him, it sounds as if he wasn't capable of recalling anything that went on that night.

In other news 50 years ago, the Yorkshire County Federation of Women’s Institutes had chosen which motions it would put before the WI’s national conference.

The county was backing Boroughbridge WI’s call for the death penalty to be introduced for child murderers, and it was supporting Strensall WI’s plea for fathers no longer to automatically be regarded as the legal guardian of a child – “the care of children is the joint responsibility of both parents”, said Strensall’s motion.

Goathland WI’s plan to get all planning applications published in local newspapers was also supported by the county.

However, a motion from Helperby WI, which compelled manufacturers to put details of any artificial sweeteners on product labels, was rejected, as was a plan from Wetherby WI to fine pedestrians dodging through moving traffic or those caught using a road crossing when the red man was showing. This was dismissed as “quite impossible”.

August 3, 1918

TOMORROW, said the D&S 100 years ago, marked the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the war and the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, would address the people of the British Empire.

His message would be “despatched in a sealed envelope to the proprietor of every theatre, music hall, concert hall and picture palace in the country”, said the paper. “”The idea is that a nine o’clock in the evening, the seal of the envelope shall be broken publicly on the stage and the message read to the assembled audience.

“It is estimated that in this way the message will be delivered simultaneously at from four to five thousand houses to audiences numbering about two-and-a-half million.”

The paper of 100 years ago also reported on the local tribunal hearings which decided whether men should be forced to join the army or whether their job at home was too vital. Every town had a tribunal which met monthly and dealt with four or five contentious cases, with the military in particular wanting every man possible to be conscripted.

The report of the Reeth tribunal – which shares its page with reports from the Aysgarth and Kirkbymoorside tribunals – is instructive. It is headlined “public insults to members”, and chairman JW Moore said that “most disparaging remarks” had been made by members of the public and “base insinuations and implications were added”.

He said the committee’s job was hard enough without such an unpleasant atmosphere surrounding it, and he added: “One person had gone so far as to imply that because he and another member of the tribunal had lost sons in the war, it was a judgment upon them, and that other members would lose sons yet”.

Mr Moore said this insinuation had “hurt him exceedingly”.

The first case was a 33-year-old market gardener from Fremington (the applicants were never named) whose employer said it was of the utmost importance that he be allowed to grow crops. The tribunal decided he should be allowed to carry on his work to gather in the harvest until October after which he would be called up.

Finally, Northallerton Rural Council heard that in the next year, 149,000 tons of stone would be needed to repair the roads in the North Riding and yet only 68,504 tons had been allocated. Northallerton was going to receive only 200 tons of limestone, 1,500 tons of slag and 50 tons of tarred slag – “less than half the quantity asked for”. There were fears that the town’s roads would become pockmarked by potholes.