Town Development

1. When did Darlington come into existence?

Although the Romans passed close by, evidence of a settlement at Darlington does not appear until the Saxon period (9th, 10th and early 11th centuries). It is believed that the monks of Lindisfarne, fleeing from the Danes in 857 with the coffin of St Cuthbert, rested at Darlington, where a church was later built and dedicated to St Cuthbert.


St Cuthbert's Church St Cuthbert's Church


2. How did the population develop?

The population of 5,000 in 1801 grew steadily to over 16,000 in 1861. It nearly doubled in the 1860s and grew rapidly for the rest of the century. By 1901 it was almost 50,000.


3. What did it mean for a town to be a market town?

Darlington's prosperity in the medieval period arose from its status as a market town dealing in livestock and wool. The market place was probably laid out by Bishop Pudsey in the 12th century and was originally controlled by the Prince Bishops of Durham who had the power to grant market charters. Darlington's market and annual fairs attracted large numbers of people from far and wide. Monday was established as market day in 1532 and the tradition continues today.


market Market Day
in Darlington today


4. In what ways did the industrial revolution change the face of the town?

The old Borough, the medieval heart of Darlington, was identified by the street names of 'Row', 'Gate' and 'Wynd'. The 19th century saw the country market town with woollen, leather and linen industries develop into a major iron, railway and engineering centre, and spread from its medieval boundaries into the surrounding countryside. The industrial revolution necessitated cheap terraced housing for the rapidly expanding workforce and their families, as well as villas and impressive mansions on the then outskirts of the town for the wealthy manufacturers and entrepreneurs.