A collection of letters have recently come to light which were written by Emily Jackson from Victoria Road, Darlington to her brother, Albert Scurfield Jackson, in the late 1890’s. The letters themselves make interest reading, giving an insight into the hardships faced by the family, but further research into the background of the family members mentioned in the letters has brought their story to life and revealed long forgotten scandals in the history of a typical middle class Darlington family.

The best place to start the story is by reading a transcript of Emily’s letters.

Victoria Road in DarlingtonThe letters were written between September 1886 and January 1898 from 39 Victoria Road, Darlington. The street of houses would have been almost new at the time.

The streetscape of Victoria Road has changed dramatically since Emily’s time, particularly with the construction of the ring road in the 1960’s, but this postcard shows it around the time that the letters were written.

Photo of 41 and 43 Victoria RoadNo. 39 today is part of the Darlington Learning Zone offices. Unfortunately, as with most of the houses on Victoria Road, it has not been maintained sympathetically.

However number 41, which the family owned, and number 43, which are shown in the photograph to the left, have retained their original doors, bay windows and railings and look very much as the whole terrace would have done in the 1880’s.

Research into birth registers and census information reveals that Emily Jane Jackson was born in 1867 in Darlington. At the time of the first letter she would have been around 28 years old, living at home with her mother Elizabeth Jackson, aged 67 and her father William Askew Jackson aged 57. Her second brother Will, then aged around 31 had moved away to work, as had her elder brother, Albert aged around 34, to whom the letters are written. Albert had married Bessie and had a young baby, his “bonny bairn” as Aunty Emily refers affectionately to the child in her letters.

Each member of the family deserves a web page of their own, which will come soon. Visit the site again to discover the scandal and intrigue that lurks in the archives. The background to the financial problems of the family will be revealed and the murky past, and future of that “idle man”, William Askew Jackson, will be uncovered…..

If you are able to add anything to the story, or even if you have simply found it interesting, please email history@aboutdarlington.co.uk.


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