Archive office launches new history talks
A series of six free history talks focusing on County Durham’s past will cover subjects
ranging from architecture to the arts and from military events to employment.
Durham County Record Office’s Third Thursday programme of talks by staff, researchers
and local historians, has been running for six years, initially in person and more recently
moving online during the pandemic.
The latest line-up of talks will continue to be delivered online and will examine a range of
Architectural historian, Martin Roberts, will present Thomas Shirley - Durham’s unsung
18thCentury architect and landscape designer on 20 January 2022.
Thomas was employed by many of the great County Durham families, not only
implementing the works of others but as an architect in his own right. Martin will use the
archives of Durham County Record Office, Durham University Library Special Collections,
as well as more distant archives, coupled with surviving works, to put together a picture of
the talented and reliable architect.
On 17 March, Durham County Council community arts officer, Colin Robson, will
explore Peterlee town, including its iconic and controversial 20th Century landmark, the
Apollo Pavilion, in his talk In Search of the Future: The Peterlee Archives.
Author Peter Chapman, will interweave local and family history in a talk which spans 150
years of South Shields’ changing fortunes in Business, Employment and Communities:
A Theme from ‘A Tyneside Heritage’, on 19 May 2022.
Peter will introduce three generations of his family, who played a leading role in the town
and in County Durham as businessmen, soldiers, borough Councillors, sportsmen,
philanthropists and representatives of royalty. History enthusiasts can join him as he
follows his ancestors through the area’s boom years of coal exporting and shipbuilding,
mass unemployment, political turbulence, wars and the challenges of peacetime.
Military researcher David Yeoman will tell share his search for soldier Wilfred Lomas and
his Durham Light Infantry (DLI) comrades, reported killed in the First World War, in
Finding Wilfred: A Great War Mystery on 21 July 2022.
Steve Shannon, who works in Durham County Record Office as a military research expert,
will mark the 70 th anniversary of the DLI’s involvement in the Korean War, with his talk,
Marvellous diggers: The 1st Battalion DLI in Korea, 1952-1953 on 15 September 2022.
In September 1952, the soldiers of the 1st Battalion DLI landed in Korea to serve with the
This illustrated talk will explore their experiences, through
photographs, documents and newspapers held by Durham County Record Office; key
objects from the DLI Collection; and the memories of DLI veterans, who were interviewed
in the 1990s for the Imperial War Museum.
On 17 November 2022, architectural historian, Richard Pears, will present Margaret
Farrington: a tale of sociability and sanity in Georgian Britain.
Margaret, born in 1725 in Newcastle to a respected Anglican clergyman and his wife,
enjoyed the polite entertainments and socialising of Georgian London, but this was cut
short by a diagnosis of lunacy in 1765. She returned to the north east to be cared for by
her extended family until her death at Lamesley, near Gateshead in 1798.
Richard will reconstruct Margaret’s life entirely from archive sources, including an
inventory of her possessions, drawing a picture of her life in a well-appointed residence
near Oxford Street, and discovering the familial ties that rescued her from what passed for
mental health treatment at the time.
Dawn Layland, education and outreach archivist, said: “Our Third Thursday talks have
become increasingly popular since they began six years ago, and have inspired and
entertained many history enthusiasts. This new season of talks covers a wide range of
time periods and subjects. We’re delighted to welcome our guest speakers to share their
passion for their chosen themes and learn from their expertise and research experiences.”
Places for all Third Thursday Talks, which will be held at 10.30am, can be booked via the
record office’s online shop at: https://recordofficeshop.durham.gov.uk/pgEventResult