Friday, 4 March 2011

Dumbstruck By Darlington

There's a curious delight to Darlington. I like it. In the 17th century it was known as Darnton; Darnton i the Dirt by some who were less enamoured with the place. King James of Scotland wrote following a visit in 1603:

Darnton has a bonny, bonny church
With a broach upon the steeple
But Darnton is a mucky, mucky town
And mair sham on its people.

The place recovered from this slight. It has the oldest park in the North East and possibly the finest, it was a Quaker town, Lewis Carroll wrote his poem 'Jabberwocky' and possibly based it on the local myth of the Sockburn Worm, the flowers are so good that the town nearly always wins Britain in Bloom, a biological phenomena can be found in the shape of some spring fed holes in the ground called Hell's Kettles and there were more hairdressers per square kilometer than any other town in Britain.

But if you have to take a train down the East Coast, Darlington is the most emotive place to depart from. Being the site of the Stockton - Darlington Railway, the first public railway in the world. George Stephenson designed 'Locomotion Number One' (still viewable at Darlington's North Road Station Museum - four years before the more famous Rocket. Darlington Bank Top station is an opulent triple spanned late-Victorian brick structure. Even to me, to whom trains are about as exciting as cold curry, this building excites me; from the entrance and turning circle for the taxis to the high glassed roof.

If you are heading North. Stop and take a look. You won't be disappointed.

No comments:

Post a Comment