Today’s Object of the Week shares an anniversary with with a pioneering passenger railway service.

EVENTS marking the 195th anniversary of the opening of Stockton & Darlington Railway are taking place this weekend.

But it also represents the 145th anniversary of the unveiling of today’s Object of the Week, the statue of Joseph Pease, in Darlington town centre, in 1875.

Pease was born in Darlington in 1799, the second son of Edward Pease, whose contribution to the development of the Stockton & Darlington, earned him the title ‘father of the railways’ – but Joseph also made a significant contribution.

Aged 19, he prepared the railway’s prospectus, and became its first treasurer, helping to establish Teeside as an important centre for iron production.

Pease extended railway lines and persuaded mine owners to use them to transport their products, setting an example by buying collieries himself and becoming the county’s largest coal-owner. By his retirement in 1870, rail was the principal method of coal transportation.

Pease’s contribution to the railways is reflected in the statue, sculpted by George Anderson Lawson at the Cox and Sons foundry.

The statue is an electroform casting – zinc dipped in copper – standing at one-and-a-half times life-size (about 9ft).

Pease is represented in middle age, wearing a Quaker coat, standing with his left hand at his side and his right tucked into his waistcoat – a pose he often assumed when speaking in public.

Set into each of the four sides of the pedestal is a bronze panel representing an aspect of his public life.

The south face represents Pease’s political career, showing him with Lords John Russell and Palmerston on his entry into Parliament.

On the west is a panel showing slaves celebrating their emancipation with a jubilant Pease, who used his position in Parliament to speak for the abolition of slavery.

On the north is a locomotive engine, with the chimneys and docks of Middlesbrough in the background.

On the east, a schoolmistress instructs a group of standing children – Pease built and financed numerous schools in his industrial communities.

The statue was unveiled on September 28, 1875, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the railway.

The day was declared a public holiday in the district and 100,000 people filled the streets.

In 1958 the statue was moved several metres as a result of a road redevelopment scheme.

It was cleaned in 2006 and returned to its original position, where it was unveiled on October 24, 2007 – the 200th anniversary of the day on which the Act abolishing the slave trade was given royal assent.