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Local Studies


Current displays & events Current displays & events

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. Come and see the framed original on the wall in the Centre for Local Studies in October.

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!

July book of the month July book of the month

Lady Fry of Darlington by Eliza Orme, published 1898

In her introduction to this book the author writes that this book about Lady Fry ‘may be useful to women desirous of following in her steps and unable now to obtain from her that hearty encouragement which she was always so ready to give to any who came to her with an earnest desire to do useful work.’ It is an interesting and informative book about a Quaker woman ‘who had lived so much within her own home, and who had never sought publicity for its own sake’. This maybe could be said of other Quaker women in Darlington too.


Sophia Fry was born at East Mount, 11th June1837; she was the granddaughter of Edward (Father of the Railways) Pease. She was educated mostly at home, with tutors and accompanying her parents in their philanthropic work, apart from one year at a school in Bristol. She married Theodore Fry 1862 and they went on to have eight children of their own.

For many years Sophia Fry was to be seen driving a pair of fast ponies round Darlington. She would have needed them, being involved in so many different good works! Her personal interests were largely centred on education: she was pivotal in opening the Teacher Training College in Darlington, and the High School for Girls; and instrumental in fundraising for a larger Hospital. She was fondly remembered for establishing a kitchen for those starving families who were suffering after the closure of a steel works – it was her initiative that the women cooked on weekdays, but on Sundays they were to rest while their husbands cooked for them. The work she was perhaps most proud of was the founding of ‘Mother’s Meetings’, eg the one at Hopetown Mission Hall, where women were encouraged to save money in particular clubs, eg for blankets, clothes, or funerals.

In 1880 her husband was elected as MP for Darlington, which meant that they spent more time in London, in a house in Queen Anne’s Gate, Westminster. She was inevitably drawn more into the political sphere herself. She seems to have two overriding missions, to show by example that it was possible to combine home duties with activism; and to foster the raising of a political conscience among women of all classes. Her main endeavours were with the Women’s Liberal Federation. One of the issues of the day that she involved herself with was around ‘the Irish Question’. Having made many visits to Ireland, she was able to say that, ‘Of one thing I am quite certain, that Irishmen and women are fully able to understand and govern their own people’. 

It is over the question of women’s Suffrage that one gets an insight into how her Quakerism affected her approach to life in general. The issue was a divisive one and she had to tread a fine and careful line in order to hold the Federation together. Believing that change was inevitable she was patient enough to realise that the work in hand was more important, to educate ‘a class whom the Suffrage movement does not reach’, so that eventually, all would ‘look more favourably upon the capability of women to discharge the duty of voters.’


The book is on display in the Centre for Local Studies throughout July.

July painting of the month July painting of the month

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


A previous book of the month A previous book of the month

The Darlington Half-Holiday Guide

by Mr. J. W. Cudworth

published by William Dresser & Sons, 41 High Row, Darlington

revised edition, 1899


The idea of this book is to describe things that can be seen in a half day trip from Darlington and at low cost. The book was written by Mr. J. W. Cudworth with sections by a variety of other people and published by William Dresser & Sons in 1899.

 The guide had been published on a number of occasions with some lovely decorative covers such as these;

The Darlington Half-Holiday Guide really does have a mixture of everything in it and gives a glimpse of the town just before the turn of the century.

 There is a large amount of information about the flora, fauna and birdlife of the region at that time and where to see certain plants in a variety of locations. The geography of the region is well covered too.

There is plenty in this book for history lovers such as an account of the Civil War skirmish at Piercebridge and the Battle of the Standard between the English and the Scottish Army. There is also a section on the Romans in Durham and North Yorkshire.

 The reader truly gets a picture of the different options available to Darlington residents on their half days off. There are plenty of ideas for walks, cycle routes and railway journeys with walks between railway stations. Some of the railway stations of course no longer exist today, so the book gives another perspective of what the area was like round 1899. Some of the walks being 10 miles or more need to be pictured before the A1 and other major roads were built and all the area around the town was very rural. If you know particular areas readers can trace the route of the walk by the description and imagining smaller car free roads and tracks.

For those interested in Darlington history, the history of St Cuthbert’s Church is well covered, with some mention of the parks and their history, for those wanting a stroll closer to the town.

 The writer's use of language makes the book a charming read because it is typical of the period. The photographs and illustrations really add to the book.

 The Darlington Half-Holiday Guide 1899 gives a strong impression of what the area was like at the time.

Previous book of the month Previous book of the month

The history of Whessoe


This book takes you through the early history of Whessoe beginning with its origins as an ironmonger shop in Tubwell Row in 1790, by the Quaker, William Kitching.

The book chronicles some of the major developments in the history of Whessoe such as the opening of the new foundry in 1839. It also explores the different customers of Whessoe Foundry at different times such as the railway and the chemical industry. The various managers and directors of the company are also discussed.

There are some lovely illustrations in the book too. For example, the opening of the Stockton and Darlington railway, the Raby Castle steam engine and Darlington market place in 1843.

An easy and interesting read for those interested in Darlington and the growth of industry in the town. If you are interested in this book you may also be interested in reading a more detailed history of Whessoe. Other books are also available in the Centre for Local Studies about the company, please ask staff for further details.



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!


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







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

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

Thornfield, Darlington by A. R. Longley


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

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