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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.

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!

February painting of the month February painting of the month

Covered Market with Market Cross by Arthur Haward

February book of the month February book of the month

Men That Are Gone From The Households Of Darlington


by Henry Spencer



In an ideal world, you would read this book with ‘Google StreetView’ up on your computer screen, or at the very least with a road map of Darlington open in front of you. It comprises a tour of the town, street by street, shop, inn, and house by house, with an inventory of the characters who resided at each address. Beginning at the ‘today’ of 1862, it works backwards as far as memory, research and local folklore permit. With a couple of comprehensive indexes, it is a treasure-trove for any researcher into particular people or places; but it is also a window into the character, life and dramas of the town itself. It is like watching a black-and-white photo turn sepia, then colour, then morph into video, such is the evident pleasure taken by the author in bringing to life the scene before him.


Apart from the dates of the life-span, the next salient fact in a biography is a man’s occupation. (Women do creep in from time to time, but this is mostly a narrative of men.) The book amasses a social history in cross-section, almost like a census, in uncovering all the occupations held by the inhabitants of the town. Biscuit Bakers, Curriers, Combers, Glovers, Farriers, Whitesmiths, Saddlers, Twine-Spinners, Ropemakers, Barbers, Ostlers, Bellhangers and so on. How wonderful to meet the ‘Cutler and repairer of Umbrellas’, or the man who keeps donkeys and sells cockles, the ‘dresser of currants’ and best of all for the wit provoked in Mr Spencer, the fabulous Mr Thomas Wilkinson, Stay-maker and Pawnbroker, ‘circumscribing the waists of some ladies and furnishing means for the wastes of some others.’


The manner of a man’s death is an enduring fascination and from tragic accidents to just deserts, there is every possible alternative accounted for within these pages. Pity the poor man who died of ‘gangrene, resulting from unskilfully paring the nail of one of his toes’; and the suicide witnessed by a bystander who failed to intervene on the grounds that ‘I thought he had a right to please himself’. Spencer is mercifully unlike the Methodist biographers whose besetting vice he describes as turning ‘all their geese into swans’.


What broadens the appeal of the book is the larger story of the town itself and the pages sparkle with accounts of brawls, transcripts of court cases, histories of particular buildings and famous incidents. There are the ‘Tea Wars’ between two tradesmen which furnished much business for the printers in publishing their opposing and scurrilous advertisements; other underhand marketing ploys included dressing and affecting the modes of speech usual amongst Quakers. Mr Wilson’s hardware shop was the first place in the world to have sliding shutters – he got the idea for their construction from a piece of furniture in the bedroom of an Inn he had stayed in. Nuggets like these abound. There is a relish for the comic too, the practical jokes played by the townspeople upon each other, nicknames given and well-polished tall tales, like the two stammerers, who, meeting each other, each thought the other mocked him…


There is a serious amount of history in here too. Long accounts of the progress of the Churches and Schools in the town, the Charitable institutions, and a very in-depth study of the growth of Methodism locally. What lingers in the memory however, is the small portraits, the man who never changed his clothes, the man who at thirty, weighed thirty-three stone and was a graceful dancer nonetheless, the man who never washed, the family who all went different ways on a Sunday: ‘the good old dame went to Meeting, her daughters to Bondgate chapel, Samuel, the elder, to Church and Samuel, the younger, worshipped nature in the sunshine, leaning against the corner of Mr Hardy’s shop’.


On display in the Centre for Local Studies during February.

Previous book of the month Previous book of the month

The Artists of Northumbria

by Marshall Hall

published 1973


This book does exactly what it says on the tin. It is an illustrated dictionary of the art of the North East covering the period 1625 – 1950. Northumbria is defined as extending from Berwick-upon –Tweed in the North to Bowes, Darlington and Yarm in the South, the whole of the East coast between these points and in the west taking in Wooler, Kielder, Haltwhistle and Middleton in Teesdale. It has colour plates as well as numerous black and white illustrations. The artists themselves are not just painters, but sculptors, engravers, stained glass designers, illustrators and cartoonists.

There is a useful opening introduction which discusses the different styles of art explored throughout, giving historical overviews of such topics as Marine, Landscape and Portrait painting, Historical, Religious and Subject specific works, Sporting and Industrial themes, as well as showcasing individual stylists, stonemasons, woodcarvers, caricaturists etc. It closes with some general remarks about influences on the output from the region, the opportunities offered by different art schools, galleries and teachers.

How best to use a book such as this? Of course for the subject specialist it amounts to an invaluable reference work – you would simply look up the name of the artist you wanted to research alphabetically. Searching through for references to Darlington artists for instance, we discover that in the seventeenth century Francis Place of Dinsdale is thought to be ‘the first British artist whose main preoccupation was landscape’. Local man John Priestman was one of the earliest professionals doing statuary on graves for the wealthy. One of the colour plates, ‘The Harvesters’ depicting shire horses at work, is by the extraordinary twins, Elizabeth and Dorothy Alderson of Neasham. They were long-lived, born in 1900 and had a very unusual way of working: ‘one sister starting at one part of a painting, and the other at another, with a complete fusion of their talents in the finished work.’

Other artists with Darlington connections who have entries in the dictionary are Mary Bigland, James Lindsay Bird, Alfred Dresser, John Dobbin, Edgar and Samuel Elton, George Fothergill, John Gibbs, Myles Meehan, Ralph Swinden, and Thomas Young.


For the interested amateur, why not begin with the colour plates, see what catches your eye and then trace back to the commentary on the artist whose work appeals to you. It could be the beginning of a whole new voyage of discovery. This reviewer discovered the work of the Spennymoor artist Norman Cornish through the dictionary and is happy to report that the Library also has a lending copy of ‘The Quintessential Cornish’, full of his paintings and an account of his life, there are also other books about Cornish, the Pitman Painters and Spennymoor in Local Studies. 

An invaluable reference work for the subject specialist, but also a tempting gateway for the amateur enthusiast.

The book will be on display in the Centre for Local Studies during January.


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

Fair in Market Place

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