National Recording Project


Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Bulmer's Stone


Type Other

     A large square-shaped boulder of granite mounted on an iron shelf behind railings between the pavement and Central House. An information board recording its history is located on the wall behind.
     Darlington's oldest monument is a boulder of granite which bears neither plaque nor ornament and commemorates no individual person or event. The locally well-known street feature is said to have drifted here some 12,000 years ago.(1) Like other erratics at Piercebridge and Whitby, it originates more than 70 miles away in Shap and geologists suppose that it was brought here by glacial movement during the Great Ice Age.(2) There are those who believe that the town of Darlington was built around the ancient stone and legend has it that it turns around nine times when it hears the clock strike twelve.(3) One story is that George Stephenson and Nicholas Wood sat on the stone to tie their boots, having walked from Stockton to Darlington barefoot. For centuries the boulder was a significant local landmark, occupying as it did, a prominent position on Northgate's pavement, in close proximity to the road. Once called the 'Battling Stone', for a time it was used by weavers to flax their yarn. In the nineteenth century Willy Bulmer, Darlington's unofficial town crier, read the London news standing from the boulder and it is probably from him that it derives its name.(4) In 1923 its landmark status diminished when it was moved just 6 yards. Deemed a traffic hazard the stone was 'imprisoned' back from the road, behind iron railings and in the shadow of the Technical College. Outraged Darlingtonians wrote to the local paper in protest, some declaring that it was 'desecration' and 'vandalism' to move the stone from the spot where it had stood for many thousands of years.(5)

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Anonymous, None ---

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Whole work Shap Granite 100cm high x 130cm square approx

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • Biological growth
Structural condition
Road Northgate
Precise location Central House, outside
A-Z ref 116 1A
OS ref None

Sorry, we have no precise geographical information for this item.

Date of design None
Year of unveiling 1923
Unveiling details Installed here 29th June 1923
Commissioned by None
Duty of care Darlington Borough Council
Listing status II
At risk? No known risk

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