1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Darlington
DARLINGTON, a market town and municipal and parliamentary borough of Durham, England, 232 m. N. by W. of London, on the North-Eastern railway. Pop. (1891) 38,060; (1901) 44,511. It lies in a slightly undulating plain on the small river Skerne, a tributary of the Tees, not far from the main river. Its appearance is almost wholly modern, but there is a fine old parish church dedicated to St Cuthbert. It is cruciform, and in style mainly transitional Norman. It has a central tower surmounted by a spire of the 14th century, which necessitated the building of a massive stone screen across the chancel arch to support the piers. Traces of an earlier church were discovered in the course of restoration. Educational establishments include an Elizabethan grammar school, a training college for school-mistresses (British and Foreign School Society), and a technical school. There is a park of forty-four acres. The industries of Darlington are large and varied. They include worsted spinning mills; collieries, ironstone mines, quarries and brickworks; the manufacture of iron and steel, both in the rough and in the form of finished articles, as locomotives, bridge castings, ships’ engines, gun castings and shells, &c. The parliamentary borough returns one member. The town was incorporated in 1867, and the corporation consists of a mayor, six aldermen and eighteen councillors. Area, 3956 acres.
Not long after the bishop and monks of Lindisfarne had settled at Durham in 995, Styr the son of Ulf gave them the vill of Darlington (Dearthington, Darnington), which by 1083 had grown into importance, probably owing to its situation on the road from Watling Street to the mouth of the Tees. Bishop William of St Carileph in that year changed the church to a collegiate church, and placed there certain canons whom he removed from Durham. Bishop Hugh de Puiset rebuilt the church and built a manor house which was for many years the occasional residence of the bishops of Durham. Boldon Book, dated 1183, contains the first mention of Darlington as a borough, rated at £5, while half a mark was due from the dyers of cloth. The next account of the town is in Bishop Hatfield’s Survey (c. 1380), which states that “Ingelram Gentill and his partners hold the borough of Derlyngton with the profits of the mills and dye houses and other profits pertaining to the borough rendering yearly four score and thirteen pounds and six shillings.” Darlington possesses no early charter, but claimed its privileges as a borough by a prescriptive right. Until the 19th century it was governed by a bailiff appointed by the bishop. The mention of dyers in the Boldon Book and Hatfield’s Survey probably indicates the existence of woollen manufacture. Before the 19th century Darlington was noted for the manufacture of linen, worsted and flax, but it owes its modern importance to the opening of the railway between Darlington and Stockton on the 27th of September 1825. “Locomotive No. 1,” the first that ever ran on a public railway, stands in Bank Top station, a remarkable relic of the enterprise. As part of the palatinate of Durham, Darlington sent no members to parliament until 1862, when it was allowed to return one member. The fairs and markets in Darlington were formerly held by the bishop and were in existence as early as the 11th century. According to Leland, Darlington was in his time the best market town in the bishopric with the exception of Durham. In 1664 the bishop, finding that the inhabitants of the town had set up a market “in the season of the year unaccustomed,” i.e. from the fortnight before Christmas to Whit Monday, prohibited them from continuing it. The markets and fairs were finally in 1854 purchased by the local authority, and now belong to the corporation.