THE Mayor of Darlington is set to honour arguably his most illustrious predecessor, who went on to become national Labour Party leader three times, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, despite having been unable to complete his elementary education due to poverty.

Councillor Nick Wallis said he hoped by naming the shield for the revived junior mayor and mayoress writing competition in Darlington after Arthur Henderson it would stimulate awareness of his achievements and his passion for peace across the town in years to come.

In addition, the mayor has asked the council’s officers to explore the possibility of putting up additional signs in the town’s Henderson Street to explain the politician’s legacy, and is holding talks with Darlington Rotary about the possibility of erecting a black plaque up on the house in Clifton Road where Arthur Henderson and his family lived.

Cllr Wallis said the borough made nowhere near enough of its links with the statesman who moved to the town in 1898 when working as agent for Joseph Whitwell Pease, then MP for Barnard Castle.

He was elected as a Liberal member to Durham council and then Darlington council in 1898 and when Mr Pease died in 1903, Mr Henderson replaced him at a by-election. In 1906 after he was successful in the General Election, he left the council and Darlington.

Alongside several Cabinet roles, with the socialist reformer Sidney Webb he largely wrote the party constitution, which made Labour for the first time an avowed socialist party, with effective constituency organisations.

For much of the remainder of his life, he campaigned for peace, and was a central figure at the World Disarmament Conference in Geneva in 1934. He was recognised internationally as an “Apostle of Peace”. The Nobel Prize website states: “Henderson was a warm supporter of the League of Nations, and one of the principal architects behind the organisation’s disarmament conference. He was elected to chair the conference, and managed to keep the negotiations going despite opposition from the great powers and from his own government.”

Cllr Wallis said: “Very few local politicians go on to play a role on the world stage and Arthur Henderson also played a significant role in bringing about women’s suffrage. It is such a shame we have forgotten about him. Discussions I’ve had since Christmas have confirmed that most Darlingtonians have no idea that we have this tangible link with a Nobel Peace Prize winner.”

He said in future years, mayors could ask Year 6 pupils wanting to be mayor for the day in the junior mayor and mayoress contest to write about world peace.