If, one day, you find yourself wandering around Darlington, then you may well notice rather a lot of large rocks lying here and there – items that have been named or labelled, and held in a sort of strange esteem. I know of three, and there may well be more.
© Copyright Chris Twigg and licensed
The first one lies near the southern end of Northgate on the edge of the town centre. It can be found on the western side of the main road behind some iron railings and is known as the Bulmer Stone. It used to sit kerbside until, in 1923, it was deemed a traffic hazard and moved to its present location. The relic, a generous lump of Shap granite, was deposited hereabouts at the end of the last Ice Age, 10,000 years or so ago. It is named for the old town cryer, Willy Bulmer, who used to announce the
news from atop the rock during the early nineteenth century. It was once known
as the Battling Stone, on account of local weavers who used to beat flax on it.
With kind permission of John Durkin - see here.
An even bigger chunk of Shap granite can found near the Victoria Embankment entrance to the town’s
. It was heaved from the River Tees
at Winston and placed there in South Park 1900
in remembrance of local geologist and naturalist Dr
Richard Taylor Manson as a tribute to his literary and scientific work. It was
he, apparently, who first documented the fine specimen – which is now, of
course, known as the Manson Boulder. Its transportation took eight men four
days to effect, with the help of a good deal of machinery. It was actually
accidentally dropped on its way through the gates of the park, and was then
just left where it fell!
© Copyright Hugh Mortimer and licensed
Boulder No.3 – Stead’s Stone – is located outside Darlington Library in Crown Street. It sits opposite the offices of the Northern Echo and was used by the newspaper’s most famous ex-Editor, William Thomas Stead, to tether his dogs and pony. As you can read for yourself in the image above, he perished on board the Titanic in 1912 – more on this extraordinary man here.