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Industrial Heritage

Darlington has always been a strategic location for manufacturing and trade, and with an old town crest bearing the inscription “Floriat Industria” (meaning "Let Industry Flourish") we’d still go along with that. 

For a "potted history" of Darlington's industrial heritage read on ...

  • In 1790 the Quaker William Kitching opened an ironmonger's shop in Tubwell Row, right in the middle of Darlington.  From these small beginnings grew Whessoe, the international group of companies that became world leaders in the field of engineering.  For over 200 years the group has designed and manufactured every type of engineering product from small castings for the Stockton & Darlington Railway to huge components for nuclear power stations;

  • Backhouse Bank, established in 1774, funds the Stockton and Darlington Railway and in 1896 is a founding partner of the modern Barclays Bank;

  • Darlington played a leading role in agriculture. In 1796 the Colling brothers evolved the first systematic approach to cattle breeding and developed the Shorthorn breed; their huge bull, the ‘Durham Ox’ has many pubs and even an Australian town named after it;

  • The Stockton and Darlington Railway opened in 1825 as the world’s first steam passenger railway, sparking the railway age and the advent of mass transportation across the world;Exploiting its position at the heart of the growing national rail network, Darlington’s Northern Echo becomes the first truly national newspaper, available simultaneously in London and Edinburgh, on the 1st January 1870;

  • In 1877 Cleveland Bridge & Engineering works is established in Darlington and proceeds to “bridge the world” with many of the most iconic structures, from the Sydney Harbour and Humber Bridges to the new Wembley Arch;

  • In 1946 the Carlisle firm of John Laing & Sons began work on a new factory for Messrs Patons and Baldwins Ltd on a 140 acre site at Lingfield Lane, Darlington.  The aim was to create a flagship manufacturing base for the world famous knitting yarn company.  The site, two miles east of the town centre, was ideally located next to the Stockton and Darlington railway line, providing the factory with its own railway sidings;

  • In 1964 a Chrysler Cummins factory was built at Darlington and in mid 1965 the Cummins Engine factory was built alongside it.  Cummins Darlington has gone on to establish itself as an industry leader in developing low emission engines and exhausts and last year the company was chosen by Transport for London to make the engines for Routemaster buses after impressing bosses with its product's size, weight and fuel efficiency.

1788 - 1872

Joseph Pease - the largest coal owner in the North East, the first Quaker MP and the financial brain behind the Stockton & Darlington Railway


Rothmans factory in Darlington employed over a 1,000 workers