From the Darlington & Stockton Times of December 16, 1871

IN Richmond 150 years ago, eight-year-old Thomas Longstaff, the son of a papermaker, was sliding on the ice of the Swale near Force Head near the paper mill – where the car park beside the falls is today. Inevitably, the ice gave way, and Thomas and three friends were plunged into the water.

“A man named William Wright was the first on the spot, and went on the ice to where the lads were struggling, but as he was reaching James Firby, the ice gave way and he fell into the water,” said the D&S Times. “He had just managed to rescue Firby when the lad’s father arrived. On seeing his son rescued, Mr Firby sprang into the river to the rescue of the others.”

Sadly, Thomas died on the ice.

The D&S said a local vicar was arranging a collection for Mr Wright “who so nobly ventured his life in the attempt to save the three boys, two of whose lives would have been lost in the water on Sunday last”.

The Old Paper Mill , in Mill Lane, off Reeth Road in Richmond

The Old Paper Mill , in Mill Lane, off Reeth Road in Richmond

IN Barnard Castle, where two boys had been rescued after falling through the ice, five youths were each fined one shilling for squirrel hunting in Flatts Woods. It was not the hunting of the squirrels that got the lads in trouble but, according to the Duke of Cleveland’s gamekeeper, they had caused “damage to the grass etc”.

SEASONAL troubles in Northallerton, too, where currier’s apprentice Jonathan Chaloner was charged with throwing a snowball at Ann Hall “causing her thereby severe injury”. The unfortunate Ann was standing talking to her husband in the Market Place “when she was struck by a heavy snowball and immediately afterwards she became insensible”. Chaloner was fined 5s 8d.