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Darlington
Darlo town centre.JPG
Darlington town centre
Darlington shown within County Durham
Population 105,564 (2011)
• Density 534.569/km2 (1,384.53/sq mi)
OS grid reference NZ289147
• London 219 mi (352 km)
Unitary authority
  • Darlington
Ceremonial county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DARLINGTON
Postcode district DL1, DL2, DL3
Dialling code 01325
Police Durham
Fire County Durham and Darlington
Ambulance North East
EU Parliament North East England
UK Parliament
  • Darlington
Website www.darlington.gov.uk
List of places
UK
England
County Durham

Darlington is a large market town in County Durham, in North East England, and part of the Tees Valley. With a population of 106,000 in 2011, the town lies on the River Skerne, a tributary of the River Tees. The town owes much of its development to the influence of local Quaker families in the Georgian and Victorian era, and who provided much of the finance and vision in creating the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the world's first steam locomotive powered, permanent passenger railway. The town is often colloquially referred to as 'Darlo'.

History

Darlington. - geograph.org.uk - 68200
St Cuthbert's Church

Early history

Darlington started life as an Anglo-Saxon settlement. The name Darlington derives from the Anglo-Saxon Dearthington, which seemingly meant 'the settlement of Deornoth's people', but by Norman times the name had changed to Derlinton. During the 17th and 18th centuries the town was generally known by the name of Darnton.

Darlington has a historic market area in the town centre. Built in 1183, the Grade I listed St Cuthbert's Church is one of the most important early English churches in the north of England. However the oldest church in the town happens to be that of St Andrew's Church built around 1125 and presides in the Haughton area of Darlington.

Visiting during the 18th century, Daniel Defoe noted that the town was eminent for "good bleaching of linen, so that I have known cloth brought from Scotland to be bleached here". However he also disparaged the town, writing that it had "nothing remarkable but dirt" (the roads would typically be unpaved at the time).

The Durham Ox came from Darlington.

19th-century industry

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Russian Crimean War Cannon from Sevastopol in South Park

During the early 19th century, Darlington remained a small market town. As the century progressed, powerful Quaker families such as the Pease and Backhouse families were prominent employers and philanthropists in the area. Darlington's most famous landmark, the clock tower, was a gift to the town by the industrialist Joseph Pease in 1864. The clock's face was produced by T. Cooke & Sons of York, and the tower bells were cast by John Warner & Sons of nearby Norton-on-Tees. These bells were in fact the sister bells to those which are inside the Elizabeth Tower at the Houses of Parliament in London, the most famous of which is called Big Ben. The Darlington Mechanics Institute was opened in 1854 by Elizabeth Pease Nichol, who had made the largest donation towards its building costs. The 91-acre South Park was redeveloped into its current form in 1853, with financial backing from the Backhouse family. Alfred Waterhouse, responsible for London's Natural History Museum and Manchester Town Hall, designed the Grade II listed Victorian Market Hall in 1860, and also the Backhouse's Bank building, now a branch of Barclays, in 1864, the latter taking three years to complete. George Gordon Hoskins was responsible for much of the town's architecture in this period, such as The King's Hotel. The Darlington Free Library was built with funding from Edward Pease, and opened in 1885 when the Council accepted the gift of the purpose built, fully stocked library and agreed to run it in perpetuity.

Railways

Darlington is known for its associations with the birth of the modern railway. This is celebrated in the town at Darlington Railway Centre and Museum. On the 27th of September 1825 George Stephenson's engine Locomotion No.1 ushered in the modern railway age when it it travelled between Shildon and Stockton-on-Tees via Darlington, on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which from its outset was designed for passengers and goods, to a standard gauge on a permanent main line with branches and powered by steam locomotives.

The town later became an important centre for railway manufacturing. An early railway works was the Hopetown Carriage Works (est.1853) which supplied carriages and locomotives to the Stockton and Darlington Railway. The engineering firm of William and Alfred Kitching also manufactured locomotives in the 19th century. The town developed to have three significant works; the largest of these was the main line Darlington Works, whose main works were known as the North Road Shops which opened in 1863 and closed in 1966. Another was Robert Stephenson & Co. (colloquially: "Stivvies"), who moved to Darlington from Newcastle upon Tyne in 1902, became Robert Stephensons & Hawthorns in 1937, were absorbed by English Electric around 1960, and closed by 1964. The third was Faverdale Wagon Works, established in 1923 and closed in 1962, which in the 1950s was a UK pioneer in the application of mass-production techniques to the manufacture of railway goods wagons.

To commemorate the town's contribution to the railways, David Mach's 1997 work "Train" is located alongside the A66, close to the original Stockton–Darlington railway. It is a life-size brick sculpture of a steaming locomotive emerging from a tunnel, made from 185,000 "Accrington Nori" bricks. The work had a budget of £760,000.

For 19 years, the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust built a 50th member of the long withdrawn LNER Peppercorn Class A1 engine, called 'Tornado' and numbered 60163, from scratch in the 1853 former Stockton and Darlington Railway Carriage Works at Hopetown. Many of the original fleet had been built at Darlington locomotive works in the late 1940s.

Engineering

Darlington has long been a centre for engineering, particularly bridge building. Bridges built in Darlington are found as far away as the River Nile and the River Amazon. The large engineering firm Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company still has its headquarters in the town. The firm built the Tyne Bridge, Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge and the Humber Bridge, as well as the Sydney Harbour Bridge. One of the leading engine building firms, Cummins, has major premises in Darlington, and it houses the industrial headquarters of AMEC. The engineering companies Darlington Forge Company (cl.1967) and Whessoe also originated in Darlington.

Other

In 1870, The Northern Echo newspaper was launched. It is based in Priestgate and is a long-standing part of life in the North East. Although a regional paper, it is a full-bodied newspaper in its own right and includes national and international news in its scope, as well as having a well-maintained website and active social media presence. William Thomas Stead was a notable editor of The Northern Echo who died in 1912 on the Titanic. Opposite The Northern Echo building is The William Stead public house, restaurant and beer garden.

Recent history

In 1939, Darlington had the most cinema seats per head of population in the United Kingdom. The town centre has undergone a full refurbishment entitled The Pedestrian Heart, which has seen the majority of the town centre pedestrianised. Initially, the project received criticism surrounding changes to public transport, and removal of Victorian features along High Row. There is now growing evidence, however, that the now-completed changes are meeting with local approval. Then in 2014, the town saw the revamp of one of its old cinemas, The Majestic, into a soft play centre and theatre.

In August 2008 the King's Hotel in the town centre was devastated by fire, severely damaging the roof and 100 bedrooms. Several shops, including Woolworths, were damaged and had to close for weeks afterwards. No one was killed in the blaze. The hotel was carefully restored to its former glory and re-opened in 2012.

Geography

Darlington - geograph.org.uk - 52377
Darlington in 2004

Darlington is located in south Durham close to the River Tees which acts as the border between Durham and Yorkshire. Both the River Tees and River Skerne pass through the town, the River Skerne later joining the River Tees which then flows through Teesside and into the North Sea.

Darlington railway station lies on the East Coast Main Line. There are also local services from the historic North Road railway station and associated Darlington Railway Centre and Museum.

Neighbouring towns include Newton Aycliffe, Stockton and Bishop Auckland.

Suburbs

There are several suburbs of Darlington. In the north are Harrowgate Hill, Harrowgate Village, Coatham Mundeville and Beaumont Hill and to the north-east are Whinfield and Haughton Le Skerne. To the east is the suburb of Eastbourne and Red Hall with Firthmoor and Skerne Park to the south. Situated in the west end are Hummersknott, Mowden and Blackwell. Finally, to the north-west are Branksome, Cockerton, Faverdale, The Denes, West Park, High Grange and Pierremont which is associated with the notable Henry Pease (MP).

Twin towns

Darlington is twinned with:

Culture

Darlington has been subject to increasing amounts of inward investment in recent years with the completion of large scale local council sponsored schemes such as the 2007 Town Centre Pedestrian Heart Project worth 10 million pounds, which saw most of Darlington Town Centre modernised with an emphasis on fewer vehicles in the centre and roads pedestrianised completely. The town is also received further investment worth 170 million pounds with the creation of Central Park, a new industrial, residential, cultural and education park which includes hundreds of new affordable homes, Darlington College Campus, Teesside University Darlington Campus, luxury office space, retail units and a new local centre. The Central Park construction site stretches from the current Darlington College campus on Haughton road to the Darlington Railway station entrance at Yarm Road.

Furthermore, the local council, regional development agency and government departments are consulting about investing in an upgrade of Darlington's A66 Eastern Bypass to dual carriageway to improve congestion and journey times, as well as to prevent the tees valley region from suffering due to the road currently being single track passing Darlington which is essentially the gateway to the tees valley region.

All of the investment in recent years and planned investment with large scale public sector support makes Darlington the most invested in Borough in the Tees Valley region, with Stockton a close second. The Civic Theatre is a popular arts venue in the town, hosting a mix of musicals, dramas, plays and pantomimes. The smaller but well-used Arts Centre, founded in 1982, featured smaller events, film screenings and more experimental material; however this closed in 2012.

Darlington is well known within the North of England as being tolerant of diverse lifestyles as it was the first town in England to allow same-sex civil ceremonies in 2001. The town thus has a small gay scene developed over a number of years by the local LGBT community, hosting a weekly Gay Night held every Monday night supported by over 7 venues in Darlington town centre. The scene has grown to become a beacon of LGBT entertainment in the region, and particularly the Tees Valley with the support of the local LGBT support charity Gay Advice Darlington/Durham (GADD), Darlington Gay Scene Collective (DGSC) as well as a large selection of local bars and clubs. The town hosts an annual Gay Pride Festival which comprises a series of celebrations of local LGBT culture and acceptance held at venues across the town.

The Rhythm'n'Brews festival is a music and real ale festival normally held in early autumn, with many rock, blues and jazz acts playing at various venues around Darlington.

The Forum Music Centre, opened in 2004, hosts regular live music events, from Ska and Punk to Indie and Classic Rock. It also runs a popular comedy club. As well as live music, the facility houses a state of the art recording studio and several rehearsal rooms. The Carmel Rhythm Club, at Carmel College in the Hummersknott end of town, is another music venue. A charitable organisation for the Carmel PTA (Parents and Teachers Association) attracts many large bands in the genre of rhythm and blues.

Darlington town centre has built a strong focus on independent shopping, and offers a more varied shopping experience than in many other UK towns and cities which have a higher concentration of national and international chains. Grange Road has a number of "designer" stores, Duke Street houses art galleries and restaurants and between the two is Skinnergate, which holds the greatest variety of original stores.

Darlington Dog Show was a championship event from 1969. It was usually held in September on the showground in South Park; but it has now moved to Ripon.

Football teams in the town are Darlington, a team in the Football Conference, and Darlington Railway Athletic, a team in the Northern League. The rugby teams are Darlington Mowden Park R.F.C., who were promoted as champions from National League Three in 2011-12 and played in National League 2 in 2012-13, and Darlington RFC. Cricket clubs are Darlington Cricket Club and Darlington Railway Athletic Cricket Club. The Darlington 10K road run is held every August, and attracts several thousand competitors. The Dolphin Centre, which provides a wide range of sporting facilities, was opened by Roger Bannister in 1982. It received a £5m refurbishment in 2006 and was later officially opened by Redcar athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Darlington Library, an impressive Grade II listed building situated in Crown Street, was a gift to the town from Edward Pease (1834–1880), a leading Darlington Quaker. He left £10,000 in his will to build a free library in Darlington or for other educational purposes. The people of Darlington voted to adopt the Free Libraries Act, and the town's first free library was officially opened on 23 October 1885 by his daughter, Lady Lymington. The building now houses the Central Lending Department, Reference Library and Centre for Local Studies.

The Jamia Mosque and Islamic Society of Darlington is located in the North Lodge Terrace area of the town, an area with a high proportion of ethnic minority residents.

Darlington Memorial Hospital is on Hollyhurst Road, in the corridor between Woodland Road and The Denes.

Transport

Road

Darlington has excellent road transport links with the North East's major trunk route the A1(M), which bypasses the town to the west. It was completed in 1965 replacing the Great North Road route which is now known as the A167. The town is served by 3 close junctions of the A1(M): Junction 57 A66(M), Junction 58 A68, Junction 59 A167. Junction 59 is the access exit for Darlington Motorway Services (Newton Park), with an onsite filling station, Hotel and a 24-hour restaurant with a drive through. Darlington is also close to other major trunk routes, including the A66 transpennine route connecting Darlington to Stockton and the A19. The £5.9 million five-mile (8 km) A66 Darlington Eastern Bypass opened on 25 November 1985. The Darlington Eastern Transport Corridor, linking the Central Park regeneration zone (Haughton Road) and Darlington town-centre to a new roundabout on the A66, was opened in the summer of 2008.

Rail

DarlingtonRailwayStation
Darlington railway station

Darlington railway station is an important interchange stop on the East Coast Main Line and has regular services to London Kings Cross, Leeds City station, Edinburgh Waverley, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Airport and Newcastle. Darlington railway station also serves as the mainline interchange for Middlesbrough railway station, which itself has few intercity services. Darlington railway station boasts a large Victorian clock tower which, in the relatively low rise town centre, can be seen throughout large areas of the town. Darlington also has access to the Tees Valley Line connecting all the main settlements of the Tees Valley and runs from Bishop Auckland to Saltburn via Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees and Middlesbrough among many other smaller settlements.

Bus

Arriva Optare Solo buses in Darlington 5 May 2009 pic 1
Arriva buses in Darlington

Bus transport in the town is provided by Arriva North East. Darlington lost out on considerable public receipts when the municipal bus operator Darlingon Transport Company was placed into administration during an attempted privatisation, due to continuing financial difficulties and the Darlington Bus War.

Arriva run most of the bus services in the town.

Stagecoach used to operate in the town (since the Bus War) until 2007, when they sold their operations to Arriva. Arriva therefore became the main bus operator.

Darlington was chosen by the Department for Transport as one of three national Sustainable Travel Demonstration Towns (together with Peterborough and Worcester) in 2004, and has successfully delivered a three-year research and marketing programme to promote sustainable travel choices under the brand name 'Local Motion'. It was also chosen as one of six cycling demonstration towns in October 2005, receiving £3 million worth of funding from the government and local council money. The money has been spent over the course of three years on improving cycling facilities and routes, and linking the town to the national cycle route network. Darlington is the only place to win both sustainable travel and cycling demonstration town status.

Airport

Durham Tees Valley Airport is 5 miles (8 km) east of Darlington town centre and serves County Durham and Teesside. The airport was known as Teesside Airport until 2004. It has flights to a few domestic locations across the UK and international flights to locations across Europe. Many private or General Aviation Flights use the airport. Weston Aviation are there for that purpose. The airport has a Fire Training Centre that trains many airport firefighters from all over the UK. The nearest larger airports are Newcastle Airport (42.3 miles (68.1 km)) and Leeds Bradford International Airport (62 miles (100 km)).

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