IT was a trip back to the 1940s and 50s when a former Patons and Baldwins employee returned to Lingfield Point, Darlington.
For the first time in over 50 years Rose-Marie Taylor visited the site for a tour of the buildings and a trip down memory lane.
Now a mixed use community and business park the 107 acre site was once the home to Patons and Baldwins, Europe’s largest wool manufacturing plant.
Rose-Marie Newton, as she was then known, joined Patons and Baldwins in 1947 at the age of 14 as a filing clerk. She worked her way up the ranks, first promoted to ordering and invoicing, then production planning and finally to cost control.
Rose-Marie married her fiancé John Taylor in 1953 and carried on working at Lingfield Point until 1956 when she left to start her family.
Now widowed Rose-Marie, 78,continues to live in Darlington, the town she has lived in all her life and where she raised her children Christopher, now 55, Anthony, now 51 and Louise, 48.
The trip back to Lingfield Point brought back memories for Rose-Marie of her time working at Lingfield Point. “It was a fantastic trip back in time and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“It was really impressive to see what they’d done to Lingfield Point, particularly to the Beehive. Beehive was where all the dances were held. But I only went to a couple of them because my fiancé was in the RAF and I didn’t like to go without him.
“What was really interesting was just how many of the original things were still there. I worked in Lingfield House and remembered the beautiful staircase and clock. And they’re both still there. We used to walk in, look up at the clock every morning and then dash up the stairs to clock-in on time!
“All around the place there are pictures of how it used to be, the factory and all the activities we used to do.
“It looks like a really lovely place to work.”
Rose-Marie was joined on her trip by her lifelong friend Dorothy Bolton, nee Oliver. The pair met in the 1950s when they were both working in the offices at Lingfield Point and have been friends ever since.
A photo of Rose-Marie and Dorothy cycling through Lingfield Point in the 1950s often appears in historical references to the town and is used around Lingfield Point to show the spirit of that era. But Rose can’t even remember it being taken.
She said: “I knew there was an old picture of us being used to show the history of Darlington and Lingfield Point but at the time all those years ago I didn’t even realise it was being taken – we were more focused on getting home at the end of the day!”
Rose-Marie’s family connection to Lingfield Point continues 63 years after she first joined Patons and Baldwins. Charlie Taylor, Rose’s granddaughter by her daughter Louise works for the Student Loans Company at Lingfield Point.
Charlie Taylor, 25 from Darlington said: “My gran’s often told me stories of her time at Lingfield Point so I was thrilled that she came back. The funny thing is that just like my gran I often have to dash in to work to clock-in. Some things must be in the genes!”
Eddie Humphries, estates manager at Lingfield Point said: “it was a real delight to show Rose and Dorothy around Lingfield Point. It’s not everyday that we have someone visit who knows more about the place than me!
“They were thrilled to see that we have stayed true to Patons and Baldwins and recycled the buildings in to spaces that businesses can use today.
“And of course the family tradition continues, with Charlie working here. Who knows, the Taylor’s could be here for generations!”