It was March 2020, when Dominic Cummings and his family famously travelled from London to County Durham at the start of the first Covid-19 lockdown, and when they had symptoms of the illness. This was a time when those experiencing symptoms were expected to self-isolate, and when extensive travel was forbidden. It was a trip that was to put the market town of Barnard Castle firmly on the map. Cummings said that he had driven there (around 30 miles from where the family was staying) to test his eyesight.
Now in February 2023, almost three years since the Cummings Durham trip – and after much publicity and attention in the town, a new sign has been placed in Barnard Castle by a mystery wit. The Teesdale Mercury reported that the area near the Weir in Barnard Castle has been renamed “Cummings View”. Here is the facebook post and a few of the responses:
Some readers found it amusing, some less so – there are certainly a few in Barnard Castle who have had enough of the Cummings effect. Responses included:
Barnard Castle and a tourist boost
The castle (Barnard Castle), an English Heritage property goes back to the 12th century, and was once owned by Richard lll. By the 17th century it was mostly a ruin, which is what we see today.
The fame of Cummings’ visit brought the town an unexpected bonus in 2021 when the castle’s visitor numbers increased by 20% from 2019, according to English Heritage.
The Cummings visit also inspired a range of art, including a moving piece by Birmingham artist, Sam Edward, which included phrases such as “I behaved reasonably”, “To test my eyesight” and, “I do not believe I broke any rules”.