NEXT Wednesday is the 150th anniversary of one of the biggest landmarks in Darlington’s history. It was on September 13, 1867, that Darlington’s Charter of Incorporation received Royal Assent.

In those days, news travelled slower than it does today, and it wasn’t until October 1 that the charter document reached the town. It was read to a large crowd at the Mechanics Institute who cheered roundly when they learned democracy was coming to Darlington – the town was to get its first properly elected council and its own MP.

Then they toasted it royally at a dinner at the King’s Head – a dinner boycotted by the Pease family who felt the new democracy would undermine their powerbase.

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The 50th and 100th anniversaries of Darlington council have been celebrated by banquets, exhibitions and processions, as above. The 150th is going to be commemorated at the Festival of Ingenuity, which is held in the town centre on September 22 and 23. At 11am on September 23 in Central Hall, Chris Lloyd, who compiles Memories, is giving a free illustrated talk about the extraordinary shenanigans that led up to the formation of the council. The talk features a Trump-like maverick megalomaniac, "The Donald of Darlo", who did everything he possibly could to upset the Peases’ apple cart in the hope of winning power for himself.

The talk will probably be called “King Henry the Ninth and the Spark of Ingenuity”, and we hope to begin this brilliant story in next week’s Memories.