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Here you can find interesting local stories from the collections in our museums.

Ralph Spark and Sons

Ralph Spark and Sons was one of the best-known bakery and café chains in the Tees Valley, and while the company is no longer in business, its legacy lives on in the Art Deco-style Daylight Bakery which still stands in Stockton.

Family photograph showing two men in the middle and a woman sat either side of them. One man stands in his army uniform looking towards the camera whilst the other perches slightly next to him in his sailors uniform. The woman on the right is their mother and she sits with straight posture with hands together on her lap looking towards the camera. She has a small face with delicate features and her dark hair is pulled behind her in a bun. The other woman is the sister and she sits on the opposite side of the men, legs crosses, arms out beside her and she is wearing a skirt suit, her hair is pulled back behind her but she has fashionable 1930s waves around her face. She looks happy with a slight smile and large eyes.

The Mellanby Brothers: Robert

The Mellanby Collection tells the stories of two brothers, Robert William Mellanby and Fredrick Henry Mellanby, who both served during the Second World War. The Collection consists of official war documents, letters, uniform and personal photographs and is now kept at Kirkleatham Museum and Grounds.

close up picture of the face of Edmund Backhouse, and old man with a large white beard and long eyebrows styled in an upward fashion. His face is sunken with deep lines on his brow, fresh plump cheeks and set back eyes.

Sir Edmund Backhouse

Born into a Darlington Quaker family, Sir Edmund Backhouse led a controversial life as an openly gay man in China during the turn of the 20th century.

Chatting with Cherry Valentine

RuPaul's Drag Race has launched the world of Drag onto the main stage and given the LGBTQ+ community an international platform. This year sees the launch of RuPaul's Drag Race UK series two, where in December it was announced we have a Darlington Drag Queen on the show! Cherry Valentine kindly chatted with us for LGBTQ+ History Month, and we got to ask her some of our burning questions!

J. F. Smith and Co.

Preston Park Museum’s Victorian Sweet Shop, J. F. Smith and Co., is named after the confectioner, James Fothergill Smith, and his works were once based in Green Dragon Yard in Stockton.

fashion illustration from 1839 showing three women in full length profile and three just head and sholders

The Price of Fashion

Arsenic green was used in paint, wallpaper and textiles. Here we are looking into this deadly substance and its use in fashions, plus its deadly consequences.

Mandall and Co.’s Licoricine

Edward Mandall, a chemist living in Stockton, created Licoricine in the 1870s. It was a cold medicine which claimed to relieve the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and other ailments.

Christmas Gifts in World War One

Over one hundred years ago, small acts of goodwill were made by children to soldiers serving in the First World War and were recognised by a charity called the Overseas Club.

Head Wrightson and Co.

Head Wrightson was one of the first iron and steel making firms in the Cleveland area to come about in the period of industrialisation in the 1850s.

Black tin first aid box. Large with White writing on the front saying - B.R First Aid No 2

The First Aid Kit

First Aid Kits were developed commercially by Johnson and Johnson for use on the American Railroad. On both sides of the Atlantic, accidents resulting in injury and death were common on the railways.

The Cleveland Institution of Engineers

Founded in 1864, The Cleveland Institution of Engineers is possibly one of the oldest Institutions of its kind in the world. It contributed to the industrial and technical growth of the Tees Valley and is still a successful Institution today.

Locomotion No 1 is a very early steam train, often described as a giant barrel on wheels.

Locomotion No 1

In this blog we are looking into Locomotion No 1, the early steam engine that ran of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. This majestic piece of machinery is now in danger of leaving Darlington and Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum need your help to ‘Keep the Loco in Darlo’.