End of an era

SINCE 2010 the Darlington and Stockton Times has carried publicity for the talks and other events presented by Brompton Heritage Group, contributing to the widespread support they received. Alas these are now themselves history.

The passage of time and the impact of Covid-19 has brought this era to a close, leaving our speaker programme for 2020 undelivered, to the regret of all those who were looking forward to its resumption.

But Brompton has lost much more than the opportunity to hear and converse with a stimulating variety of experts and enthusiasts. There remains a lasting legacy which many even within the village, may be unaware of.

The group was formed in 2003 in response to the demolition of the distinctive “Wilford” chimney, emblem of the once thriving linen industry. The group salvaged the bricks which were later reused in projects around the village; supporting our colourful storyboards about the “Hog Back grave covers in St Thomas’ church, the Battle of the Standard and the story of the linen industry, and as the base of the linen workers memorial on Water End Green.

The group has funded or carried out work to erect a heritage sign post, stabilise the Liberty Stone, regild the war memorial lettering on the Lych Gate to St Thomas’ and to the restore its historic charities board.

Thanks to a legacy from Councillor Janet Kirk, the group was able to make significant donations to the upgrading of the Methodist Chapel kitchen and to repairs to the clock on St Thomas’ Church tower.

I am sure that our supporters will miss the welcoming atmosphere and opportunity to engage with our speakers over tea and biscuits, the occasional buffet suppers and more recently, the National Heritage Open Day displays.

At the heart of all these activities was Doreen Newcombe, to whose local knowledge, efficiency and warmth, we all owe a huge debt of gratitude.

Brompton Heritage Group is survived by its website, an archive collection of artefacts and oral history, the Village Trail leaflet and very soon, the publication of “Brompton Memories” compiled from our archive.

We hope that a new generation will arise to carry forward our past achievements with their own ideas.

Unity Stack, on behalf of the BHG committee, Brompton.

TV refund

THE fire at the Bilsdale TV mast has caused lots of problems with loss of programmes, so I am wondering if and when the BBC will be offering a refund on the licence fee on a pro rata basis, particularly for all the retired people who have just had the free licence removed and then lost for some their only entertainment?

C Atkinson, Great Ayton.

Afghan memories

IT is with sadness that I watch and read the events taking place in a country that brings so many happy memories to me of my hitch hike through Afghanistan in 1964.

I well remember my journey through Iran to the border post at Islam Qala and being advised by the border police to take the bus into Afghanistan, which was through the night.

It was the Afghan Post bus and I sat on top of the bus among the mail bags. What a memory that brings to me as on the journey we stopped several times to let passengers out to pray by the roadside to Mecca.

A magical sky, pitch black except for the millions of stars above as I shared eating melons with friendly Afghans. The names in the news, Herat, Farah, Kandahar and Kabul, where I stayed for three nights before hitch hiking up the Khyber pass, all bring back memories of the friendliness of the many Afghans I met there.

Another memory is seeing the meteor shower which takes place every year, and seeing the camel trains carrying large sacks and logs through the mountains. There are so many pleasant memories of my journey through this now war-torn country and as I watch and read the news I can only pray that someday, not too far away, peace will come to this country that gave me a safe journey and chance to meet such friendly people.

Derek Whiting. Stokesley.

Right decision

THE wise words of the gentleman from Catterick Garrison summed up the withdrawal of allied personnel from Afghanistan perfectly when he said "No other British soldier or Afghan soldier should die just to keep a country going that is going to fall back into mayhem. You walk around Catterick and you see young men with limbs missing. We can't keep losing British lives."

It is all very well for the politicians in Parliament and the likes of Tony Blair to talk about letting down the people of Afghanistan by withdrawing from that country and that we should continue to have a presence in Afghanistan.

Our foreign policy under Mr Blair and subsequent prime ministers has been a shambles which has resulted in the Middle East being destabilised, millions of refugees living in miserable conditions with no end in sight and unnecessary deaths and injuries to the mind and bodies of our forces, who have been sent into Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and who have done the best they could in impossible situations. The withdrawal of allied forces from Afghanistan is correct. Let us hope that in the words of Winston Churchill, “jaw, jaw replaces war, war".

Alan Macnab, Darlington.

Afghan refugees

THE bottle-necks of screening refugees and of aircraft having to make medium or long-haul flights would be overcome if all-comers at Kabul Airport were simply whisked across the border in a short hop to Pakistan and an airfield near an existing camp.

There the sorting of those eligible for onward travel could take place in slower time and those disappointed could choose between camp life there and a return flight.

This does seem like placing the entire burden on Pakistan, but it is rather a different burden than would be faced elsewhere.

Pakistan's already huge Afghan refugee community does not reflect a much greater commitment to multiculturalism and tolerance than we have shown.

Most important of all, the corollary of this is that the refugees will be prepared to return home if it becomes safe to do so.

It is a reasonable bet that most of those who reach the West would not be leaving again, however benign Taliban rule proved to be.

John Riseley, Harrogate.

Wonderful NHS

I RECENTLY had go into hospital for an urgent operation.

I would like to say that from the Friarage at Northallerton, the journey in the ambulance and treatment at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough I received the very best attention anyone could ask for.

Our NHS is wonderful, the nurses and doctors and everyone concerned.

I would like to thank them all for all the help I was given.

Elaine Wright, Northallerton.

Difficult decisions

I WAS shocked to hear that 1,000 people a month die from breast cancer in the UK, I simply could not believe it, so I checked it out online, and it was correct.

Later I was listening to a political debate in which it was said that what was written on the Brexit battle bus “We send the EU £350m a week” was wrong. They explained that it did not take into consideration the 66 per cent rebate that Margaret Thatcher negotiated in 1984.

Then again I also heard that Boris Johnson is maintaining that the £350m was a conservative estimate of what we would save. Unfortunately there is no way of checking either statements so who is right and who is telling porky pies?

The Environment Agency says to counteract global warming, emissions will be cut to at least 45 per cent by 2030 and we will be net zero of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – and that will be legally binding. How can they do that, if we are not net zero by 2050 will they put today's politicians in prison?

If you think about that, climate change will get worse 'til 2050 and it will not get better 'til we go carbon negative, but there is no plan for that. However to do all this we have to make some very difficult decisions lead by the government – if we can trust them.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham.

Climatic cycles

I REFER to Helen Robson’s letter (D&S Times letters, Aug 20). I believe that 100 per cent of scientists believe that climate and global warming are cyclical. Also, CO2 is required for plants to grow and the more CO2 in the atmosphere, the better plants grow.

Indeed, the earth could not support the current population if the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere had not increased in parallel to allow for sufficient food production.

G B Butler, in the same issue, points out that nobody, including Climate Extinction, ever points out it is the growth in population that is the cause of all the other problems.

See above. Nature has solved the issue of global population growth and it will continue to do so if left to its own devices. Also, science has failed to prove any nexus between the increase in CO2 and extreme weather events.

The good news is that global warming is cyclical and we are on the cusp of a downturn.

Helen Robson cites catastrophic fires as evidence of global warming. In Greece, in 2007 and 2021 the police have said that arson was the cause of many of the fires. Perhaps fires were started by climate warriors to ramp-up fear of global warming?

Sir David Attenborough originally made cuddly documentaries about cute animals, and made a living out of doing so.

Ed Miliband imposed green fuel taxes and we pay a third more for our home fuel bills than we should. Boris Johnson is planning to have us replace gas boilers with inefficient "heat pumps" at a cost of between £10,000 and £16,000. But worry not. Climate Extinction now say that we are too late to take the action needed to save the planet.

If this is true – and why should you disbelieve them – we can get on with living our lives and develop alternative fuels for use when we run out of fossil fuels. Nuclear power?

Alastair P G Welsh, Aycliffe Village.

Service distress

I RECENTLY attended the funeral of a relative, held at Darlington Crematorium and was greatly distressed at the current arrangements.

The service was held in an old and dingy Victorian chapel and the committal preceded the somewhat undignified removal of the coffin which was then replaced into the hearse and driven away for cremation.

I was informed by the undertaker that this procedure has been taking place for a considerable time and was due to the re-organising and updating of the crematorium facility. Apparently this procedure involving the use of the cemetery chapel has occurred on a number of occasions previously and has, judging by adverse comments, been unacceptable and distressing both to the bereaved families and the funeral directors.

I was also informed that Darlington crematorium is one of the most expensive in the country, with fees being regularly increased each year.

As a resident of the area covered by Hambleton District Council, I am pleased that a new, state of the art, electrically-run eco crematorium is currently being built by the council located near Thirsk.

I trust that this facility will prove to be a successful venture in all respects, especially as it will reduce travelling time, and hopefully be run with the utmost regard to easing the distress and the bereaved which appears to be sadly lacking presently at the Darlington council-run crematorium.

Howard Smith, Easingwold.