You've got to feel sorry for this rock. It's got no space. And yet, legend has it that it turns round nine times when it hears the clock strike twelve. It used to sit proudly by the road on Northgate, and Willy Bulmer used to read out the London news whilst standing on it. But Health and Safety deemed it in the way, so in the 1920s it was moved behind railings at Central House to be safely out the way.
It's also supposed to have railway folklore links. In the 1820s Edward Pease had a horse-drawn railway that took coal to the Tees at Stockton. George Stephenson is supposed to have walked from Stockton to speak to him, to persuade him to use his new fangled steam engine. Stephenson sat on the stone to re-tie his boots, apparently.
In Darnton towne ther is a stane,
And most strange is yt to tell,
That yt turnes nine times round aboute
When yt hears ye clock strike twell.
This truly wonderful revolving stone, though by-the-by it is not singular in this property, stands in the front of some low cottages constituting Northgate House, in the street bearing the same name. It is a water-worn boulder-stone of Shap (Westmorland) granite.
The rhyme must be pretty old, as it's from a book given to the Durham cathedral library in 1662, and it previously belonged to the church of Hutton Rudby, Yorkshire, so the Tracts tell us.