WE DID IT: Middleton’s Phantom Bench Restorers are revealed – sisters Natalie Collinson and Rebecca Gailes with their children Jack Paul Gailes, 6, 11-month-old Ferne Collinson and Noah Gailes
WE DID IT: Middleton’s Phantom Bench Restorers are revealed – sisters Natalie Collinson and Rebecca Gailes with their children Jack Paul Gailes, 6, 11-month-old Ferne Collinson and Noah Gailes

THE mystery surrounding a “phantom bench restorer” in upper Teesdale has been partially solved this week and the Mercury can reveal the identities of the handy culprits.

Middleton-in-Teesdale and Newbiggin parish councillors had been left scratching their heads when benches they are responsible for mysteriously began being restored.

So far out of the 50 or so benches, the council have to maintain, two have been given anonymous makeovers.

The clerk to Middleton-in-Teesdale and Newbiggin parish council, Judith Mashiter, shared the news of the latest makeover on social media, congratulating the “phantom bench restorer”.

Ms Mashiter said: “The bench seat on Snaisgill Road at Marlbeck has received a welcome makeover. The parish council is grateful to whoever did this. It’s the second such mystery restoration of bench seats this year.

“It’s great that people just get on and do these practical things for the benefit of the public.”

The Teesdale Mercury can now reveal the latest bench to receive a makeover was part of a memorial birthday present.

Sisters Natalie Collinson and Rebecca Gailes with their husbands organised the restoration of the bench on Snaisgill Road to mark what would have been their father Paul Teward’s 70th birthday.

Sam Turner

Mrs Collinson said: “We thought it would be a lovely idea as a present to do a memorial bench as he often walked out that way and sat on it, looking over the valley.

“He died ten years ago and we just thought it would be fitting and somewhere we can take the children to remember him.

“But we didn’t know who to ask about doing the restoration, so we just did it.”

They kept quiet about being responsible until they could show their handiwork to their mother, Carole.

Mrs Gailes said their husbands, Tony Collinson and Andrew Gailes, helped carry out the work. As well as replacing all of the rotten wood they have also fitted a plaque, which reads “Grandad’s Bench ‘Our Special Place’, Love Jack Paul, Noah and Ferne. Although the sisters owned up to restoring one bench, they have no idea who had carried out the work on the second one, located at Cockland Nook on the Stanhope Road.

The chairman of Middleton-in-Teesdale and Newbiggin Parish Council, Andy Mitchell, said: “I just think it s a lovely thing to do and they have sort of adopted it now so I know they’ll take care of it and it’s a great place for them to remember their dad.”

Mr Mitchell added he didn’t know for certain who had repaired the other bench, but was grateful on behalf of the council.