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To see what's on in Local Studies, please visit the Events Page

Local Studies catalogue Local Studies catalogue

Local Studies books and pamphlets have now been added to the online library catalogue, click onto the Catalogue link above.

Following 3 years of hard work by staff and volunteers the main card catalogue for Local Studies is available online.However if you are looking for photographs, maps, newspaper indexing or family history resources please ask staff to help you use the card catalogues when you visit.

From the collection From the collection

Tea wrapper used by Jane Bryson


A very decorative tea wrapper used by Jane Bryson, grocer and tea dealer, 9 High Row, in the late 19th century.

From the collection From the collection

Edward Pease Public Library, Crown Street, with bust of Edward Pease and Portrait of the first Librarian, Frank Burgoyne,  Entrance of the Town Hall & Coniscliffe Road

by W. Walker Hodgson


This painting by W. Walker Hodgson who resided in Darlington for a while was given to the Library with the complements of Thomas Wood & Sons, November 1909

From the collection From the collection

Thread Mill and Dam, Darlington by S. Fothergill


If you like this painting call in to the Centre for Local Studies to see other framed paintings and images on display around the walls.

From the collection From the collection

Post House Wynd, Darlington by H.S. (attributed to)


We have no information about this artist. If you have further details, please contact us.

If you find this painting interesting why not call in to the Centre for Local Studies and see the other framed items on display around the walls.

From the collection From the collection

Brigham's Bookshop, Coniscliffe Road 

by S. Clark


From the collection From the collection

James Atkinson by an unknown artist

James Atkinson, Oriental Scholar and Artist, born at Darlington, 1780, died in London, 1852. This painting was presented to this Library in 1893 and shows Atkinson in his uniform as surgeon in the army.

From the collection From the collection

North Lodge Park Pond and Boat House, 1899

by P.P. Norman

Discover more of our collection Discover more of our collection

 On this page we will feature some of our most useful and interesting items of stock.

Some items you will be familiar with, others we hope to introduce you to!

May book of the month May book of the month

Lost Houses of County Durham by Peter Meadows & Edward Waterson (1993)


Lost Houses of York and the North Riding by Edward Waterson and Peter Meadows (1990)

Do you remember the beautiful Gothic Red Hall or Medieval Cockerton Hall sadly demolished in 1964?  If so, have you ever wondered about their history? In Lost Houses of County Durham the authors seek out the development of Red Hall and other grand houses in the Co Durham area. Peeking into the past we are shown the history and beauty of their architecture but also of their sad demise.

The most obvious question perhaps, is why the houses described and illustrated (about 75 in each book), came to be lost. The authors argue that County Durham was special in the way its landowners ‘tolerated, encouraged and actively invested’ in the local industry – predominantly coal-mining – conducted on their land: they received royalties… they could build more opulent houses. Unfortunately there was also danger to their properties from subsidence and often, as the industry thrived, the original houses were swamped by its proximity and their owners inclined to move away. More generally there is an inevitability that the costs of upkeep and repairs, the dislocation of families, requisitions in wars and loss of heirs all tend to result in decline.

Each entry concludes with, as it were, the death of the house, which would be cumulatively rather melancholy if it were not for the intriguing details brought to light. Fires were very often the prelude to demolition, as in, ‘became a night club and was burnt down in mysterious circumstances’. One suffered ‘worm infestation’. One was subject to a sinister invasion: ‘Semi-detached houses advanced up the drive’. Rather touchingly, what finally remained is catalogued too – it’s most often the stable block, or outbuildings, in one case, just the stone ha-ha, or, pitifully, ‘a few railings’. Stonework was broken up for road-building, lead stolen from the roof. It is at least some consolation that notable interiors are fairly regularly salvaged, cannibalised in other buildings.

The earlier York and the North Riding book does not have a map of properties like the one that is included in the later County Durham one but included is Clervaulx Castle at Croft, designed by Ignatious Bonomi, Railway Architect. The more rural character of the Yorkshire environs is stressed and the illustrations of this area benefit from a sketchbook of 200 Yorkshire Houses by one Samuel Beck (1696-1779). As a rule the earliest photographs date from around the 1860s. To give a taster, Rounton Grange at East Rounton is described as ‘the most original North Riding house of the late nineteenth century’. William Morris and Sir Edward Burne-Jones designed the decorative scheme of the dining room. The house is oddly tall in the photograph, and the text explains that the owners did not want to chop down nearby trees – so the architects built up rather than out.

The County Durham book includes several Great Houses with Darlington connections. There are many pictures of interiors at Neasham Hall; we learn that as well as Red Hall at Haughton-le-Skerne, there was also Blue Hall and White Hall; Blackwells Hall and Hill make an appearance, as well as the Bishop’s Manor House, Lady Sophia Fry’s Woodburn and the Peases’s Woodside. Interesting nuggets abound: Branksome Hall was named after a poem by Walter Scott; Halnaby Hall, South of Darlington, was the scene of Lord Byron’s disastrous honeymoon in 1815. Whitworth Hall near Spennymoor was the home of ‘Bonnie Bobby Shafto’.

These books resurrect buildings that were once pronounced ‘deserted, derelict and beyond repair.’ Along with great photography both are a must read for all those fascinated by the history of buildings in our local area, who love looking at old photographs and have a passion for architecture too.

The books will be on show in the Centre for Local Studies during May 2019.

May portrait of the month May portrait of the month

Arthur Pease 1837-1898

of Hummersknott, colliery owner & iron master


Previous book of the month Previous book of the month

A History of British Birds by Thomas Bewick

Volume 2: Water Birds


This may well be one of those books you’ve been aware of and meant to get around to one day. We would urge you not to delay – it is such a delight on so many levels. You don’t even have to be a bird-lover to appreciate the artistry and wit in the text and illustrations.

Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), who was born at Mickley near Prudhoe, in Northumberland,  was known in his lifetime as one of the world’s leading wood-engravers, having revived the art and made it his own by cutting into the wood as well as drawing onto it. He refined the skill, for instance, by shaving off minute slices from the surface of the wood so that the picture would print grey, or to convey texture, where one part of the block thus received less pressure in the press. It was this attention to detail, its potential for accuracy and delicacy, which led to wood-engraving becoming the favoured method of illustration for books and magazines until the end of the 19th century, when photography took over.

In his Preface, Bewick advocates the study of Natural History for its own sake. ‘to become initiated into this knowledge, is to become enamoured of its charms…an endless fund of the most rational entertainment is spread out, which captivates the attention and exalts the mind’. In his Introduction, he describes the rewards of the ‘most minute investigation’, which, as we will see, is prodigious, being almost forensic in its gaze.

Bewick did his engravings from living or newly shot specimens, avoiding stuffed birds because of the inaccuracy consequent in clumsy taxidermy. Each bird is introduced with the engraving first, then a description of its dimensions, length in inches, girth, weight (a Kingfisher weighs two and a half ounces, the Heron, between three and four pounds) and an exhaustive account of the colours and kinds of its feathers. The colours of the male  Mallard are meticulously catalogued as follows: ‘yellowish green…a glossy deep changeable green…white…deep vinous chestnut…silvery white…rufous…brown…ash…rich glossy purple, with violet or green reflections, a double streak of black and white…pale grey…dusky’ and finally, ‘legs, toes, and webs red.’

There follow historical and geographical points of interest, notes as to habits and habitats, and many interesting mythologies, quotes and anecdotes are included. Pliny thought the Kingfisher nest looked like ‘petrified sea-froth’ and hazarded a guess that it might be made from ‘Prickly-back bones, since they live upon fish’. In Iceland, the Eider duck is treated ‘with such kindness and circumspection as to make them quite tame’. The local custom was to take eggs and down from their nests repeatedly, the down from a dead bird being no use due to loss of elasticity. Bewick comments that the down is sold ‘to stuff the couches of the pampered citizens of more polished nations’…

Whichever bird you choose to check up on, you will find something to divert you. But one of the extra charms of the book is almost incidental and would be easy to miss. Each entry is followed by a tiny extra engraving, or ‘vignette’, a tail, or tale piece, for they often seem to imply a story that has been going on behind the scenes. In a letter quoted at the beginning of the book, Bewick wrote that ‘Instruction is of little avail without constant cheerfulness’ – something his commentary, as well as his illustration, amply provides.

Previous book of the month Previous book of the month

The Discovery of Teesdale by Michael D.C. Rudd


Teesdale today is renowned for its outstanding natural beauty. Yet in times gone by bleak descriptions hardly drew the visitors. That was until a tour account by two local solicitors, an agriculturist and tax officer changed people’s minds. Famous writers and poets began to visit. Artists also flocked to the area including John Sell Cotman and J.M.W. Turner who depicted the natural wonders of Teesdale  and in turn helped to change popular perception too. The Geologist Adam Sedgewick studied the Great Win Sill, local lead mining and smelting which later became tourist attractions in their own right.

It turns out that one of Teesdale’s many claims to fame is that it is immortalised in what this book claims is ‘the first detailed descriptions of actual wild scenery to appear in a novel’. Somewhat unflatteringly, the novelist in question, Thomas Amory, advised his readers in ‘The Life of John Buncle’ in 1756 to ‘wander over this wild and romantic part of our world, at the hazard of your neck, and the danger of being starved’. On the other hand, this was the kind of scenery that was appealing to seekers of the Picturesque - just ten years earlier George Lambert made his beautiful picture in pastels, ‘The Falls of the Tees, Durham’ and this is reproduced in the book in colour.

As well as a chapter on local artists and poets, there is a survey of the work of Botanists in the area – by 1798 over 150 rare plants had been found in Teesdale. The plant-hunting Quaker Backhouses had a tour of Teesdale in the summer of 1844, taking the train from York to Darlington, then Bishop Auckland to Crook. They walked for 27 miles and spent the night at the High Force Inn. They were responsible for the discovery on this trip of the Teesdale Sandwort.

There follow several more chapters detailing various tours made by various famous names. The most notable and influential perhaps was Walter Scott and his poem inspired by the region, ‘Rokeby’ is extensively quoted. Eventually we arrive at ‘The Nineteenth Century and the Railways’, which later its development was obviously crucial for tourism. Barnard Castle was connected to the main London line in 1856. By 1882 there was a whole network (run by the North Eastern Railway Company), as the South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway had extended a line westwards to Kirkby Stephen and the Tees Valley Railway Company had built a line opening up the upper dale, Lartington to Middleton-in-Teesdale.

We come up to the present day (2007) with a final chapter on Teesdale: European and Global Geopark. By this stage, visitor numbers were at 40,000 walking the High Force section of the Pennine Way, 70, 000 using each of the car parks at Cow Green and Bowlees and the Bowes Museum receiving 120,000 visitors per year. Television made a heroine of Hannah Hauxwell in the 1970’s, showing her struggle to farm at the remote Low Birk Hatt in Baldersdale. The ‘Geopark’ park concept concerns itself with the interpretation of the geological heritage and had UNESCO backing.

So if you are seeking a deeper understanding of Teesdale, this wonderfully illustrated account of the region’s discovery will enchant anyone with an interest in landscape history as well as those looking to know the Teesdale of today.


Find previous books of the month here Find previous books of the month here

You might enjoy exploring previous books of the month. You can do this below. Just select a title you would like to find out more about and click on the link.

Remember you can come in to the Centre for Local Studies anytime to see the original book. Just call in and ask the staff. They will find the book for you.

If you have used a book in Local Studies which you have found useful or interesting and you think should be featured here, do let us know.

Enjoy finding out more!


The Artists of Northumbria by Marshall Hall  Find out more

Men That Are Gone from the Households of Darlington by Henry Spencer Find out more

Dreaming of Babylon, The Life and Times of Ralph Hodgson by John Harding  Find out more


Sleigh Ride to Russia by Griselda Fox Mason

  Find out more

Ghosts of the North by Melanie Warren & Tony Wells

Find out more


Eric's War, Experiences of a Far Eastern Prisoner of War 1941-1945 by Eric Walter Markham Find out more


The Friends in Council by Samuel Tuke Richardson     Find out more


Lady Fry of Darlington by Eliza Orme Explore here


Darlington Half-Holiday Guide by Mr. J.W. Cudworth Explore here

The History of Whessoe Explore here


Up There, The North East Football Boom & Bust by Michael Walker  Explore here


From Thornfield to Thornfield Road by Patricia Dean  Explore here






Annual Reports on the Health of the County Borough of Darlington  Explore here


 The Mystery of Easter Island by Katherine Routledge  Explore here



Inventry of Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting-houses in the North of England by Christopher Stell Explore here






The World War One Memorial of Eastbourne, Darlington by A. Magrys  Explore here


At the House of Edward Pease, Northgate, Darlington

 by Charles McNab Explore here


Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company Ltd Explore here


Charter of Incorporation of the Borough of Darlington & The County Borough of Darlington Official Handbook

Explore here







Darlington Illustrated Year Book for the Municipal Year, 1903 Explore here


Public Catalogue Foundation, Oil Paintings in Public Ownership in County Durham Explore here




A History of The Denes, Darlington by Chris Lloyd and Memories of The Denes Explore here



A rhinoceros bone from Brierton, nr. West Hartlepool & a skeleton of elk (Cervus alces) from Neasham, near Darlington by C.T. Trechmann Explore here


 England's Vast Industries & Mercantile Marine Explore here


Henry Pease - A Short Story of His Life by Mary Pease    Explore here


Memories of North Road Locomotive Works   Explore here 



Biographical and historical notes on bygone Darlington by W.J. Mountford  Explore here








The History of the Polam Christmas Tree  Explore here






Durham at the Opening of the Twentieth Century and Durham Contemporary Biographies  Explore here


A North Country Album by George A. Fothergill  Explore here

Kelly's Directories Explore here             

Religion, Business and Society by Anne Orde     Explore here                               

Dodds' Darlington Annual for 1917     Explore here             

From the collection From the collection

Darlington Racing Pigeon Society, Season 1909

From the collection From the collection

William John Cudworth 1815-1906

 Engineer & Quaker teacher

From the collection From the collection

Fair in Market Place

by Arthur Haward

From the collection From the collection

Covered Market with Market Cross by Arthur Haward

From the collection From the collection

The Market Tower by A. B. Dresser, 1912

From the collection From the collection

County Borough of Darlington

Darlington Welcome Committee on behalf of their fellow Townsmen & Women in grateful acknowledgement of Loyal & Gallant Services rendered to King & Country in the Greatest of all Struggles for Freedom and the Right.



We have only seen only one other certificate given to a Darlington soldier who surrived WW1 and so far have not found out any other information about when they were presented. We would be interested to know if you have a similar certificate given to your ancestor or if you have more information about the certificates.

From the collection From the collection


Edward Pease (1767-1858), The Father of the Railways

by an unknown artist



From the collection From the collection

St. Cuthbert's Church, 1912 by D. Allston

From the collection From the collection

Bishop's Palace, Darlington 1813 by E.A. Elton

From the collecton From the collecton

Advertisement and 1899 calendar for W. Sedgewick,

family grocer and wine merchant,

97 Bondgate, Darlington

From the collection From the collection

Building Shop, Faverdale, Darlington by W. W. Neasham


From the collection From the collection

The Sisters of Mercy Home, Darlington

 by G. A. Fothergill


From the collection From the collection

Thornfield, Darlington by A. R. Longley


From the collection From the collection

Edward Pease 1834-1880 by an unknown photographer

From the collection From the collection

 Opening of the South Park Teahouse, Darlington June 4, 1908

photographed by Alfred H. Harrow

From the collection From the collection

The Old Mill Race, Darlington by Samuel Fothergill, 1884

From the collection From the collection

Cockerton by an unknown artist

From the collection From the collection

Hannah Maria Whitwell (1778-1866) by an unknown artist