|Area||19.73 km2 (7.62 sq mi)|
|• Density||4,680.81/km2 (12,123.25/sq mi) (Town)|
|OS grid reference|
|• London||219 mi (352 km) south|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Areas of the town|
|Postcode district||DL1, DL2, DL3|
|Fire||County Durham and Darlington|
Darlington is a market and industrial town in County Durham, England. It is the main administrative centre of the unitary authority Borough of Darlington. The borough is a constituent member of the devolved Tees Valley area.
A tributary of the River Tees, to the south of the town, known as the River Skerne flows through the town. The town is near the Yorkshire Dales National Park, being 11 miles (18 km) from the park boundary near the town of Richmond. The town had a population of 93,015 in the 2021 Census, classed as large.
In the 19th century, establishment of the Stockton and Darlington Railway (the world's first permanent steam locomotive powered passenger railway) led to the town having an industrial and manufacturing economy.
Darlington started 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 usually known by the name of Darnton.
Darlington has a historic market area in the town centre. St Cuthbert's Church, built in 1183, is one of the most important early English churches in the north of England and is Grade I listed. The oldest church in Darlington is St Andrew's Church, built around 1100 in Haughton-le-Skerne.
When the author Daniel Defoe visited the town during the 18th century, he noted that it 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." (roads would have typically been unpaved in the 18th century.)
The so-called "Durham Ox" came from Darlington (born in the early 19th century, this steer became renowned for its excellent proportions, which came to inform the standard for Shorthorn cattle.)
During the early 19th century, Darlington remained a small market town.
The Stockton and Darlington Railway ran steam locomotives designed for passengers and goods, built to a standard gauge, on a permanent main line with branches. On 27 September 1825, George Stephenson's engine, "Locomotion No. 1", travelled between Shildon and Stockton-on-Tees via Darlington, an event that was seen as ushering in the modern railway age.
Later in the 19th century, the town 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 there around this time. The town eventually developed three significant railway works. The largest of these was the main-line Darlington Works, whose main factory, the North Road Shops, opened in 1863 and remained in operation until 1966. A second works, Robert Stephenson & Co. (colloquially: "Stivvies"), moved to Darlington from Newcastle upon Tyne in 1902. It was renamed "Robert Stephensons & Hawthorns" in 1937, was absorbed by English Electric around 1960, and had closed by 1964. The third was Faverdale Wagon Works, which was established in 1923 and closed in 1962. In the 1950s, it was a UK pioneer in applying mass-production techniques to the manufacture of railway goods wagons.
During the 19th century, Darlington Quaker families such as those of Pease and Backhouse emerged as major employers and philanthropists. Industrialist Joseph Pease gave Darlington its landmark clock tower in 1864. The clock face was crafted by T. Cooke & Sons of York, and bells cast by John Warner & Sons of nearby Norton-on-Tees. The bells are sisters to Big Ben.
Darlington Mechanics Institute was opened in 1854 by Elizabeth Pease Nichol, who had donated towards its cost. In 1853, South Park was laid out, over 91 acres (37 ha), with financial support from the Backhouse family.
Architect Alfred Waterhouse, famous for work including London's Natural History Museum and Manchester Town Hall, designed Darlington's Grade II listed Old Town Hall and Market Hall, Darlington in 1860. Four years later he contributed Backhouse's Bank building that is, as of 2022[update], a branch of Barclays bank.
During the period, George Gordon Hoskins was responsible for much of the town's architecture, designing buildings such as The King's Head Hotel.
Darlington Free Library, a Grade II listed building in Crown Street, was built for £10,000 by Edward Pease. His daughter, Lady Lymington, opened the building on 23 October 1885 and presented it to the town council who agreed to operate it in perpetuity. As of 2022[update] it contains a library and "centre for local studies".
In 1870, The Northern Echo newspaper launched. Its most famous editor, William Thomas Stead, died on the Titanic. Facing the present Northern Echo building on Priestgate is the William Stead public house named for him.
In 1939, Darlington had the most cinema seats per capita in the United Kingdom.
On the night of 13 January 1945, a Lancaster bomber piloted by Pilot Officer William Stuart McMullen of Canada was on a training exercise when one of its engines caught fire and it crashed on farmland near Lingfield Lane. McMullen heroically stayed at the controls while his crew parachuted to safety and directed the stricken aircraft away from the houses below. He was killed on impact. His heroism was honoured by renaming Lingfield Lane "McMullen Road" and erecting a memorial monument.
Starting in 1993, rail enthusiast group A1 Steam Locomotive Trust worked on building an all-new steam locomotive, the first to be constructed since the 1960s. It was intended to be the 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. Tornado was completed in January 2008.
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.
In 2001, Darlington became the first place in England to allow same-sex civil ceremonies and as of 2022[update], it hosts an annual Gay Pride Festival at venues across the town. A 2005 Darlington Borough Council project to pedestrianise areas of the town centre, this included some Victorian features along High Row. In August 2008, a fire, which nobody was killed in the blaze, caused damage and weeks of closure until the damage fixed for several shops (including Woolworths). The King's Head Hotel was also affected with damage to the roof and 100 bedrooms, the hotel was able to reopen in 2012.
See also: Darlington (UK Parliament constituency)
On 1 April 1997, the Borough of Darlington became a unitary authority area with the formation of Darlington Borough Council, which separated it from the non-metropolitan county of Durham for administrative purposes only, as the town is still within County Durham for ceremonial purposes. Although the former districts and boroughs of Durham now form the unitary authority of County Durham. This means that County Durham now has four unitary authorities. As of 2021[update], the Member of Parliament (MP) for this seat is Conservative Peter Gibson. Former members of parliament for the town include Jenny Chapman, Alan Milburn, the former Secretary of State for Health under the Tony Blair Labour government and Michael Fallon, who was Secretary of State for Defence under the David Cameron coalition government and Theresa May's Conservative government.
Darlington is located in the south of County 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 borough, the Skerne later joining the Tees which then flows east and into the North Sea.
In the north are Harrowgate, 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).
|Hartlepool||18 miles (29 km)||North East||Combined Authority area|
|Durham||17 miles (27 km)||North||Historic county town and closest city|
|Middlesbrough||13 miles (21 km)||East||Combined Authority area|
|Stockton-on-Tees||10 miles (16 km)||East||Combined Authority area|
The trend of regional gross value added of Darlington at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by the Office for National Statistics, with figures in £ millions.
|Year||Regional Gross Value Added[a]||Agriculture[b]||Industry[c]||Services[d]|
Darlington was un-industrial throughout the 20th century, with finance and manufacturing as the main elements of its economy.
A major employer in the area is the English division of the Student Loans Company, Student Finance England, which is based at Lingfield Point and employs over 1,000 people. Other large service sector companies with offices in the town include Darlington Building Society. Darlington Borough Council announced that the site for the DL1 complex, previously a car park for Darlington Town Hall, was also to be redeveloped to house riverside office space for the Department for Education to replace its previous office on the edge of the town in Mowden, in an effort to safeguard Darlington jobs. This was officially opened on 19 March 2015. The Disclosure and Barring Service has a national office in the town. Amazon UK operates a warehouse facility, which opened in early 2020, employing 1,300 full-time staff, one of the town's biggest employers.
EE is the largest private sector employer in the town, with 2,500 staff. The company took over its operations from one of its predecessors, Orange Mobile. The international telecommunications company BT Group recently announced Darlington as one of the economically important locations in England to have BT fibre-optic cables installed underground as part of the company's BT Infinity superfast broadband rollout project. BT Group cites its decision to include Darlington in the national rollour of multi-provider fibre optic (cable) broadband as necessary due to the towns relatively large amount of IT demanding firms and future plans for developments including space for high-tech firms.
The Morton Park area of Darlington is currently undergoing a partial redevelopment, with areas of unused waste land being redeveloped into modern industrial and office space. Companies based in Morton Park and the surrounding area are Infoserve Ltd and vehicle rental company Northgate Vehicle Hire. Morrisons supermarket at Morton Park opened in August 1995.
Other commercial spaces in Darlington include North Road Industrial Estate, which includes a Morrisons supermarket; Cleveland Trading Estate and Faverdale Industrial Estate. The council depot on Central Park is also to be redeveloped into commercial space.
Darlington has a rich engineering heritage and several notable engineering firms established locally. Bridge building was particularly important in the town. Bridges built in Darlington span the River Nile and Amazon.
Local engineering firms include:
As an historic market town, a weekly outdoor market was held on the market square, which is one of the biggest in the country. An indoor market is located underneath the town clock on Prebend Row.
They are a number of shops in the area:
In November 2012, a deal was signed between Darlington Borough Council and developer Terrace Hill for a £30 million re-development of the site of the former Feethams bus depot. The development includes a new multiplex cinema run by Vue Cinemas to serve Darlington and the wider South Durham area, as the area currently has no multiplex cinema. The development has an 80 bedroom Premier Inn hotel, and various food and drink venues including Prezzo, Bella Italia and Hungry Horse. The proposal had an expected completion date of late 2014, though this did overrun with completion early 2016.
Darlington Memorial Hospital is on Hollyhurst Road, in the corridor between Woodland Road and The Denes.
The former Civic Theatre, now The Hippodrome, is a popular arts venue in the town, hosting a mix of musicals, dramas, plays and pantomimes. In 2016, Darlington Civic Theatre closed to mark the start of a £12.3 million renovation project that included a £4.5 million lottery grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and revamped as 'The Hippodrome' and connects to the children's theatre 'Hullabaloo'.
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 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, was another music venue. It opened the same year as the Forum.
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.
The Jamia Mosque and Islamic Society of Darlington is located in the North Lodge Terrace area of the town, an area with a relatively high proportion of ethnic minority residents (39.2% of the population in that area, compared to a town average of 6.3%). Constituted as a charity under UK law in 1982, the mosque offers worship facilities, as well as Islamic education, and has its own telecommunications mast for calls to prayer.
Darlington has a wide array of churches scattered around the town including the iconic and notable parish church of St Cuthbert's in the centre of town, with a towering spire and a grade I listed status. Other churches include Methodist, Baptist, Roman Catholic and Jehovah Witness places of worship, as well as Holy Trinity Church and the grade II listed St John the Evangelist Church which closed for worship in 2023.
Teesside International Airport is five miles (eight kilometres) east of Darlington town centre and serves County Durham and North Yorkshire. The airport was known as Durham Tees Valley Airport from 2004 until mid-2019. It has flights to a few domestic locations across the UK and international flights to some locations in Europe. Many private or general aviation Flights use the airport. The airport has a Fire Training Centre which trains many airport firefighters.
The nearest large airports are Newcastle (42 miles (68 kilometres)) and Leeds Bradford (62 miles (100 kilometres)).
Local services run from North Road railway station, the town's original station. Darlington railway station lies on the East Coast Main Line and has regular services to London Kings Cross, Leeds City, Edinburgh Waverley, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Airport and Newcastle.
Darlington railway station also serves as the mainline interchange for Middlesbrough station, which itself has few intercity services. Darlington also has access to the Tees Valley Line connecting all the main settlements along the River Tees, running from Bishop Auckland to Saltburn via Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees and Middlesbrough.
Darlington railway station has a large Victorian clock tower which can be seen throughout large areas of the town.
Darlington is well connected to 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 three closely-spaced junctions of the A1(M): Junctions 57 A66(M), 58 A68, and 59 A167. Junction 59 is the access exit for Darlington motorway services (Newton Park), with an onsite filling station, hotel and restaurant. Darlington is also close to other major trunk routes, including the A66 trans-Pennine route connecting Darlington to Stockton-on-Tees and the A19.
The £5.9 million five miles (eight kilometres) 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.
Bus transport in the town is provided by Arriva North East.
Stagecoach used to operate in the town until 2007, when it sold its operations to Arriva. Arriva services connect Darlington to neighbouring towns and cities such as Durham, Bishop Auckland, Richmond, Stockton, and Middlesbrough.
There are also two smaller independent operators running services in the town, called Dales & District and Hodgsons Buses.
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 delivering 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.
2007 Town Centre Pedestrian Heart Project worth 10 million pounds, saw some of Darlington Town Centre modernised, with an emphasis on vehicles becoming less common in the centre and some roads pedestrianised completely. Other improvements were to 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.
The town's main museum is Head of Steam, sited near North Road railway station – it and Piercebridge Roman Fort near the town are run by the Darlington Museum Service.
See also: List of schools in Darlington
Teesside University opened a Darlington campus in 2011. It offers higher education in the town to students and businesses.
The town has one further education college, Darlington. It has two sixth forms, the Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College and Carmel College, Darlington sixth form.
There are multiple secondary schools including: Carmel College, Wyvern, Haughton, Hummersknott, Hurworth School, Longfield and St Aidan's. Polam Hall is a former independent school and is now a free school.
There are also multiple primary schools including: Federation of Abbey Schools, Mowden School, West Park School, Skerne Park primary school
Darlington is home to the regional daily newspaper The Northern Echo and its sister weekly newspaper Darlington & Stockton Times.
Local news and television programmes are provided by BBC North East and Cumbria and ITV Tyne Tees from the Bilsdale TV transmitter.
Local radio stations are BBC Radio Tees, Capital North East, Heart North East, Greatest Hits Radio North East, Sun FM and 'Darlo Radio' broadcasts from the town.
In November 2009 the town appointed an official 'Twitterer in residence', the first of its kind in the UK. Mike McTimoney (known on Twitter as TheDarloBard) is a local regular Twitter user who has been officially charged with tweeting for and about Darlington, and to help promote The Darlington Experiment 2.0, the town's social media campaign.
In August 2022, Darlington Borough Council confirmed that it would be placing a bid for Darlington to host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest. However, the town was not part of the shortlist of potential host cities released on 12 August.
The town is home to Darlington Football Club which play at Blackwell Meadows and play in National League North. Darlington Railway Athletic F.C., plays in the Wearside League Division One and play at Brinkburn Road.
Darlington FC is known as The Quakers because of the contributions made to the town by men such as Edward and Joseph Pease, members of the Religious Society of Friends. Before the 2012 administration, played at the 25,000 capacity Darlington Arena (after 120 years at the Feethams ground) when it opened on Neasham Road in 2003. In the 2010–11 season Darlington won the FA Trophy however they were relegated from the Football League, into the then Football Conference. Administration caused Darlington to play home games at Heritage Park in Bishop Auckland and relegation by four divisions to Division One of the Northern Football League, of which the club was one of the founders of in 1889, for the 2012–13 season. It moved back to Darlington from the 2016/17 season with a long term groundshare arrangement with Darlington RFC at Blackwell Meadows. Darlington's first home game at Blackwell Meadows (a 3–2 home win against Halifax Town) took place on 26 December 2016. In the subsequent season, the club was allowed to change back to its current name.
Darlington has two Rugby Union clubs Darlington Mowden RFC and Darlington RFC. Darlington Mowden Park play in National League 1, the third tier of English rugby union. The club own and play at the Darlington Arena, which played a role in the 2015 Rugby World Cup as hosts to the New Zealand national team. Darlington RFC play at Blackwell Meadows in Durham/Northumberland 2.
Darlington's leading athletics club, Darlington Harriers AC, was formed in 1891 and has had a number of successful athletes wearing the club colours as well as competing internationally at Commonwealth, European and Olympic Games (1908 London, 1948 London and Tokyo 1964). The club stemmed from the Darlington Foot Harriers who travelled in packs hunting hares. Some of the key members such as Thomas and Charles Mountford founded the club which went on to become one of the most notable clubs in the country and were known nationally for their great athletes.
The club celebrated its 125th year in 2016, with anniversary games held at Eastbourne Sports Complex and were also the first club in the UK who were granted a licence via England Athletics new systems whilst the country was coming out of the COVID19 situation.
In 2019 the club was awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Services (QAVS), which was created in 2002 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee. This was previously known as The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS). Equivalent to an MBE, this award (changed to KAVS since King Charles III came to the throne) is the highest award given to local voluntary groups in the UK. The Club was also winner of the 2021 and 2022 Regional England Athletics North East Volunteering Club of the Year awards.
In 2015 the club also moved away from the 'D' vest which had been introduced in the late 1970's, initially moving to 'Darlington Harriers' before the new club logo which was introduced in 2018. The new logo shape is the DL postcode area, includes the towns landmarks in Joseph Pease's statue, the town clock and of course the brick train which represents the town's history in the rail industry.
The club has also introduced further events to its athletics calendar in recent years, adding to the existing 'Pitstop' 10km race which has been running since 2001. Multi-lap events held at South Park include South Park 10 (mile), South Park 20 were introduced in 2016 and The Marathon Paarlauf in 2022. The athletics track where the club are based at Eastbourne Complex received a make over in 2023 as part of a £1.6 million re-design of the complex with a new Blue 8 lane track to match the club colours.
The other athletics-based event is the Darlington 10Km and 3km road run which is held every August, attracts around two thousand competitors, and is managed by the local council.
The Dolphin Centre, which provides a wide range of sporting facilities, was opened by Roger Bannister in 1982. It received a £5 million refurbishment in 2006 which was later officially opened by Redcar athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson.
Cricket clubs in the town are Darlington Cricket Club and Darlington Railway Athletic Cricket Club. Both play in the North Yorkshire and South Durham Cricket League, Darlington CC won the league twenty times during the 20th century.
North side of Darlington centre square
Darlington is twinned with: