Memories of Whessoe Open Day


The Centre for Local Studies at Darlington Library will be holding a free drop in event to explore their collection relating to Memories of Whessoe. It is on Tuesday 22 May, 10am – 4pm.


The Love of Dangerous Men: A Secret History in Letters

The Love of Dangerous Men book cover

Tony Nicholson has given us a number of superb talks at our meetings over the last few years, regaling us with tales from the lives of Gus and Annie. His ‘Secrets from the Attic’ talks always leave us desperate to hear the next part of the saga.

In his long awaited new book, ‘The Love of Dangerous Men: A Secret History in Letters’, we finally get the full story of the complex tale of Gus and Annie. Tony leads us from the discovery of a bundle of letters and photographs in the attic of his home in Brotton, exploring tales of intrigue that he has discovered among the streets of Calcutta and Victorian Whitechapel, and takes us through to the modern day with the connections that he has made with decedents of the family.

Tony will be giving us a talk on a new subject, ‘The Langworthy Mystery’, on Wednesday 20 December (see our talks programme for details) and will have copies of his book available to buy, making the perfect last-minute Christmas present for any history lover.

The Love of Dangerous Men: A Secret History in Letters‘ is also available from Amazon in paperback or for the Kindle.


October meeting quiz answers

Some of you will have realised that the ‘who’ and the ‘where’ questions in this month’s quiz were linked. The answers to the five sets of questions were:

Edward Pease is referred to as the ‘Father of the Railways’. He developed his textile business in Darlington, which Daniel Defoe highlighted as being a centre for linen bleaching.

John Walker was a chemist who invented the friction match. He lived in Stockton on Tees, the town which once had a castle until it was destroyed by Cromwell at the end of the Civil War.

Henry Fitzroy was the son of Henry VIII. He was Earl of Richmond, the town known for the legend of the drummer boy.

Henry Witham researched the internal structure of fossil plants. He established the Barnard Castle Mechanics Institute, the town where Charles Dickens stayed whilst researching Nicholas Nickleby.

Thomas Wright was the first astronomer to describe the shape of the Milky Way. He was born and died here in Byers Green, the village whose name is thought to mean ‘the green by the cowsheds’.

Book review – Darlington in 50 Buildings by Chris Lloyd

Darlington in 50 Buildings – reviewed by Pat Holmes

As chair person of the Darlington Historical Society, I was asked to review this publication.

I have lived in the Country of Durham for all of my adult life and Darlington for the last 17 years.

In these present times, Darlington is losing much evidence of it’s worthy past in terms of buildings. This book is most valuable with a multitude of pictures from the earliest times through to the present day, showing the influence of the early church , the Industrial Age and the Society of Friends.

I know that throughout the North country, Darlington has been known as ‘a Quaker town’. I was surprised to hear it referred to as the Athens of the North. I think the townspeople of Edinburgh may query this.

To the tourist, the map of the town outlining the whereabouts of the buildings is of great value.

Darlington in 50 Buildings by Chris Lloyd is published by Amberley Publishing (ISBN 9781445666822). It is on sale at Waterstones in the Cornmill in Darlington and is also available in paperback and for the Kindle from Amazon.

Stoker Arthur Worrall RN and Sister Jessie Darnell

Arthur WorrallThe friends and neighbours of Jessie Darnell and Arthur Worrall dedicated a liturgical prayer book in their memory at St.Herbert’s church Darlington in 1946. Darlington Historical Society are trying to trace the families of Jessie and Arthur, following some research by a member of the society.

Arthur Worrall was born on 30 September 1920 to Fred and Violet Worrall of 5 Harris Street, Darlington, County Durham.  He had four brothers, Fred, George, Jim and Jack, a sister named Agnes as well as a half brother named James and a step sister Lily. Arthur worked for the United Automobile Services Ltd in Darlington.  During World War 2 Arthur served as a Stoker on board H.M.S. Hood.  He lost his life when H.M.S. Hood was sunk by the German battleship Bismark on 24th May 1941.

Jessie Darnell was the daughter of Robert and Catherine Darnell who originally came from Acomb in York. The family came to live at 12 Estoril Road, Darlington. Jessie’s nursing training was at the Royal Infirmary, Newcastle Upon Tyne from 1936 -1940. After her training was completed, Sister Darnell was appointed to Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service in September, 1941 and served at various hospitals in the UK until March 1942 when she was posted to India in March, 1942.  She died at Mhow military hospital in India on 14th October 1942.

If you are able to help us trace either family please get in touch via our contact page.

George Ernest Musgrave RAFVR

Bible dedication to George Edward MusgraveWe would like to contact the family of George Ernest Musgrave RAFVR, following on from research carried out by a member of Darlington Historical Society.

George was the son of Ernest Wilfred and Mary Ellen Musgrave of 49 Carnaby Road Darlington.  George joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and was sent to RAF Cardington in Bedfordshire for training sometime between September 1939 and August 1940.  He was then sent to RAF Seletar on the north east of the island of Singapore where his unit was responsible for the servicing of the planes of 36, 100 and 205 squadrons.

At the fall of Singapore in 15th February 1942, George Musgrave was captured on 8th March 1942 and became one of the 85,000 personnel who became prisoners of war (POWs) of the Japanese.  George died as a POW on 9th October 1944.  Friends and neighbours of the family contributed to a liturgical Bible for St Herbert’s church Darlington in his memory, the dedication plate of which is shown above.

If you are a decendent of George’s family please get in touch with the Society through our contact page.

Flying Officer George Edward Lumley

Flying Officer George Edward Lumley

The Darlington Historical Society was contacted by a gentleman who, whilst clearing a house he’d recently purchased, had found some ephemera belonging to George Edward Lumley. Member of the Society including Anthony Magrys have researched George Edward Lumley.

He was born in 1912 the son of Edward and Mary Jane Lumley who lived on Brook Terrace in Darlington.  George Edward became a glass blower of scientific instruments.  He moved to Billingham and married Nellie Burton, with whom he had two daughters, Patricia and Cynthia.  In 1936 he joined the Territorial Army at Darlington as a signalman in the Royal Corps of signals.  He left the Territorials in January 1939 to join the Royal Auxiliary Air Force as a wireless operator.

He first served with 608 Squadron flying out of Thornaby.  On 2nd Feb 1940 he and Flying Officer Johnson, Pilot Officer Lambert and Corporal Young were on board an Anson (N199 UL-M).  It crashed in the sea due to engine failure and sank after 45 minutes. The crew were rescued by a minesweeper 6 miles off Blyth.  Another Anson he flew in crashed near North Skelton on 19th June 1940, George Edward was injured but the pilot was killed.  Flying Office Lumley was later transferred to RAF Silloth.  On 15th September 1944 he was on board a Wellington taking part in an night time exercise when  the plane crashed into the sea.  Though the pilot and another crew member survived, George Lumley and three other crew members did not.  Their bodies and the survivors were picked up by a trawler.  George Lumley is buried in Darlington’s West Cemetery.

The Historical Society would like George Lumley’s descendants to have these documents and photographs and can be contacted via the Society’s contact page.

Paper bags from Darlington shops

A collection of ephemera has recently been donated to the Darlington Historical Society. Included in the collection are a number of historic paper bags from shops which were once in the town centre.

They include Fitzgeralds the fresh fruit suppliers; Robson & Ogden, The Stocking Shop, hosiery and lingerie specialists; and Wildsmith’s, suppliers of tea and Prime Irish Roll.

If you have memories of these shops that you would like to share please leave a comment below.

Fitzgeralds fruit of Bondgate & Covered Market, Darlington

Fitzgeralds fruit of Bondgate & Covered Market, Darlington


The Stocking Shop of Skinnergate, Darlington

The Stocking Shop of Skinnergate, Darlington


Wildsmiths's Prime Irish Roll of Skinergate, Darlington

Wildsmith’s of Skinergate, Darlington – Prime Irish Roll


Sons of Skinnergate, Darlington - tea paper bag

George Wildsmith & Sons of Skinnergate, Darlington – tea paper bag