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Centre for

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.

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!

Painting of the month Painting of the month

Fair in Market Place

by Arthur Haward

December book of the month December book of the month

Dreaming of Babylon

The Life and Times of Ralph Hodgson

by John Harding (2008)


Reviewing this biography, Chris Lloyd called Hodgson ‘the most highly regarded poet of his heyday, which was just before the First World War.’ (The Northern Echo 27/2/2009) Nowadays we might think of him perhaps as one of Darlington’s most forgotten famous men.

 Hodgson was born in Garden Street in 1871; he also lived in Station Terrace, opposite Bank Top Station, which the book calls ‘Darlington slums’, after the collapse of his father’s coal business. He was the eighth of eleven children, left school at 14 and had what sounds like a rather wild and carefree adolescence. He eventually followed one of his elder brothers to London – Walker Hodgson was making a successful career in cartooning and illustration for the newspapers, having started out on the Northern Echo himself. It was into this world and through these contacts that Ralph began to make a name for himself. Some of his drawings are reproduced in the text, including, from much later in life, a quirky portrait of his third wife, one elegant boot disappearing behind a door as she leaves to do the dishes. He was in sufficient demand in Fleet Street by 1895 to be the artist sketching Oscar Wilde’s trials at the Old Bailey in the ‘Evening News’.

Much of the pleasure of this biography is in the incidental detail, the references to other more well-known names and thus a rather gossipy angle on the period in question. Ralph became great friends with Walter de la Mere and T.S.Eliot, for example. The latter pursued Hodgson for a while in the vain hope that he would illustrate his ‘Old Possums Book of Practical Cats’.  Eliot wrote a ditty about him that ran, ‘How delightful to meet Mr. Hodgson! (Everybody wants to know him!)’ In fact, that seems to get to the heart of the matter, as Hodgson was a fiercely private man who strongly resisted the idea of publicity, and, indeed, the very thought of anybody attempting a biography of his life.

Hodgson had three marriages and lived on three continents: he taught at Tokyo University for five years and after that settled permanently in Ohio. He won prizes for his poetry, including the Polignac Prize in 1914 for ‘The Sword of Honour’, probably his most popular work and one, because of the subject matter and its timing, which gave a nationalistic slant to his reputation. Later, in 1954, he was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. He had many themes though, especially relating to the natural world, birds of all kinds and his abiding life-long passion for dogs. The book might have benefitted from printing some of the longer poems in full, letting them speak for the poet. He does not give the impression of having wanted to elucidate on them much himself. Enid Bagnold, the novelist and playwright, and a friend, commented that ‘he talked in pointers and always stopped before being precise’.

The Centre for Local Studies also has a copy of his book of poems; The Last Blackbird, so you can read some of his poems in full.




Dreaming of Babylon will be on display in the Centre for Local Studies throughout December.

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!

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

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