Darlington has a rich and exciting history, thanks largely to the Quaker families who dominated the town for so long. One of the great joys of living here is that we can read all about their exploits in Echomemories, Deputy Editor Chris Lloyd's regular page in the Northern Echo. For those of you outside the area, www.northeasthistory.co.uk and www.northernecho.co.uk/audiovideo are links to Chris's essays.
Today's essay is about an eccentric American called George Francis Train, who allied himself with the Pease family and built a horse-drawn tramway to deliver customers from North Road Railway Station to and around the town centre.
I found this article particularly revealing for two reasons. First, Darlington Liberal Democrats proposed in our manifesto for the last local elections that the town should be provided with a bus station, and that an environmentally-friendly shuttle bus service should operate from there, serving various places around the town centre. Instead, as Chris himself pointed out recently, we have the lunacy (my word, not his) of hundreds of buses a day careering through the town centre which otherwise could be completely pedestrianised. George Francis Train beat us to it by 150 years.
The second thing which caught my eye was this quote from the Darlington Telegraph, which apparently was brave (or foolhardy) enough to be anti-Pease.
The Telegraph accused the Peases of "brow-beating insolence, misnancying arrogance and impudent contempt of all courtesy." I've made a note of this for the next Full Council Meeting.