Welcome to


Centre for

Local Studies

Heritage Trail

The Darlington Heritage Trail

is available here

You will need the map too!

Don't forget to come in to the Centre for Local Studies in Darlington Library to see our displays, database of photographs of the town and much more!

Enjoy the trail!

Online catalogue now available

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.

Item request form

If you would like to request Local Studies items either in advance of your visit or when you come in, please use this form for guidance. The information staff require to locate the item you are interested in is marked with an asterix symbol *

Please click here for our form.



Starting family history?

 Are you interested in starting to trace your family tree?

Click here for our top tips!

Group visits

The Centre for Local Studies welcomes group visits during opening hours. Special interest groups or school and college visits are always welcome. Group visits can be tailored to suit the requirements of the group whether you wish to do some research into a particular topic or have a general look at the resources we hold in the department, we have something to suit everyone.

Teachers and pupils can be shown around all departments of the Library and can do research using old newspapers, maps, photographs, census returns and other resources.

Please contact us at or telephone 01325 349630

FREE access to

We are pleased to be able to offer FREE access to Ancestry Library Home Edition for a limited time... click here

Local and family history introduction

The Centre for Local Studies has a large and wide ranging collection of material relating to the Borough of Darlington and surrounding areas.

The department aims to collect and preserve historical and contemporary material and make it available to anyone with an interest in local or family history. The resources (click the link on the left) include books, photographs, maps, posters and ephemera, which tell the story of the Borough of Darlington.

Staff are always available to assist with enquiries and help with the use of microfilms and other materials.

There are changing displays with a local theme each month and visitors are encouraged to look around and enjoy the pictures, paintings and books on display and ask to see related items in the collection.

Visitors should note that taking photographs of items in the collection is not permitted. If copies are required please ask the staff who will advise on copyright. Photocopies or printouts can often be made for personal use and for a small charge, subject to copyright restrictions. Please discuss with staff if reproductions of images are required for other reasons.

CfLS - Displays - 2021 09 - Isaac Coates Poster

Treasures of Local studies - 20 Sep - 29 Oct

This month’s treasure is Isaac Coates’s sketchbook. Isaac was born in Norton, near Stockton in 1808. His maternal aunt was Rachel Pease, the wife of Edward ‘Railway’ Pease so he was related to one of the most prominent families in Darlington. Isaac was a partner in Coates and Farmer, a printing and bookselling business on High Row. He was also involved in the iron industry.

In 1840 Isaac presented his father George with this sketchbook, now in the collection at Darlington library. It contains pencil portraits of Isaac’s parents and siblings and a self-portrait of Isaac himself. We believe this was a parting gift, as very soon after Isaac set sail for New Zealand.

What prompted him to emigrate we don’t know. His businesses were failing so it may have been financial reasons, but what happened next was to bring researchers from New Zealand to the North East of England, in search of him, some 180 years later.

Isaac settled in Nelson, and for reasons undiscovered, he set about painting watercolour portraits of Maori, 58 portraits in total, including men, women and children, chiefs and slaves. Isaac’s portraits are a valuable historic record of the Maori from central New Zealand during the often turbulent times of the early 1840s. A book by Hilary and John Mitchell was published earlier this year containing full colour reproductions of the Maori portraits and details of each individual whose likeness was recorded. It also contains their extensive research into Isaac himself. Copies are available to read in the Centre for Local Studies.

The sketchbook here in Darlington Library is the only other known artwork by Isaac Coates to exist. It is, without doubt, a treasure of local studies.

CfLS Displays - 2021 09 - Isaac Coates & portraits

Some photographs from our Local Studies collection


Click on the images above to view some of our collections on Flickr™

Not found what you are looking for?

Our Local Studies collection has over 40,000 images

of Darlington and surrounding areas.

Call into the Library to see other photographs.

Need information about other areas? Find links to other local history collections of Public Libraries and Archives in the North East of England;


Happy 50th Birthday Cockerton Library

Crown Street Library - celebrating 135 years

Research Service

Are you interested in tracing your family history but are short of time or find it difficult to visit Darlington Centre for Local Studies?

Our Research Service may be able to help you.

For more information click here

For charges and application form click here

Current displays & events

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


WW1 Remembered

 A Poppy for a Soldier

Like many towns Darlington suffered a devastating loss during the First World War. Of the many Darlington men who enlisted more than 1,100 did not return.  A project to commemorate the Darlington men who died in the war has taken place at Darlington Library’s Centre for Local Studies. Following an appeal, local crafters donated hundreds of knitted and crocheted poppies, and staff invited local people to visit the Centre to find out more about an individual soldier and label a poppy in his memory. These poppies were on display in 2015, 2016 and 2018 for the final time.


For the last twelve years historian Stephen Nicholson has been compiling a database of information about the Darlington men who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War. Using resources in Darlington Library’s Local Studies Centre and the National Archives, Stephen has recorded the names, addresses and occupations of the men who died. Wherever possible Stephen has included a photograph of the man and an extract from the relevant battalion’s war diary written on the day of his death. Stephen’s research has been published by the Northern Echo and is available to search for free at .