Local Industries

1. What local industries were there in the 19th and 20th centuries?

Soon after the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway (1825) Kitching's foundry made railway equipment at a site beside North Road Station. In the middle of the century iron foundries were set up at Albert Hill to trade with many parts of the world. Rise Carr Rolling Mills (1868) made steel sections for collieries and, later, the motor industry and the building trade. W. Richardson & Co (1866) were heating engineers and made greenhouses and conservatories and industrial heating systems. Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Co (1878) specialised in steel bridges, including the Zambesi, Ganges and Tyne High Level bridges.

The woollen industry was developed in the mid 18th century by Edward Pease who established a mill by the River Skerne in Priestgate. In the 1880s the firm of Henry Pease & Co employed over a thousand people and, before the First World War, a large proportion of its goods went to Germany.

Carpet making was carried on beside the River Skerne by J and F Kipling. Optical glass making and the grinding and polishing of spectacles was a short-lived industry. Leather making continued and included the production of chamois leathers, harnesses and gloves.

Gas was manufactured around 1818 by Edward Todhunter, a plumber, glazier and tinplate worker of Tubwell Row, to light his own shop. A gas company was formed in 1832 followed, in 1849, by the Darlington Gas and Water Company, taken over by the town in 1854.


Pease The statue of Edward Pease
in Darlington town centre


2. Who or what started them?

Edward Pease was responsible for founding the family wool combing business. The Quakers came to Darlington in the 17th century and exerted a lot of influence on the town's fortunes for more than 200 years. The Backhouse and Pease families had linen and woollen interests before becoming involved with banking, railways, coal mining, ironstone mining, quarrying, coke and brick making and the supply of water.


3. When were they started?

Most local industries started in the mid 18th century.


4. What were typical products?

Typical products were: sheeting, tablecloths and napkins; wool; carpets; optical glass and spectacles; leather goods (harnesses and gloves).


5. What determined their location (both regionally and within the town)?

Darlington lies on the Great North Road connecting London with Scotland. The town was located on a place on the River Skerne were it was easiest to build a settlement. This ensured a good water supply for domestic and industrial purposes. The water of the Skerne was believed to be good for bleaching.


6. Do they still exist?

By the early 1960s the railway shop and associated industries were closed. The woollen industry ended in the 1970s.


7 Which industries weren't successful and why?

New sources of power, the internal combustion engine, electronics and light engineering made the old industries redundant. Heavy engineering industries and the railway industry were victims of new technology. An 'office revolution' opened up more jobs for women and girls. Natural materials, such as cotton and wool, have given way to new, man-made materials, which are easier and cheaper to produce.


8. What were the conditions of work like in the 19th century?

No better or worse than anywhere else!


9. Were goods exported from Darlington?

Goods were exported all over the world by rail or by sea (from the port of Middlesbrough).

10. What means of transport did the industries rely on?

Rail and sea. Today most manufactured goods travel by road.