DAVE CHAPMAN, of Merrybent, has collected all manner of weird and wonderful items in his time, including this wooden board which obviously once belonged to Sir Arthur Francis Pease of Middleton Lodge, Middleton Tyas.

What do you think it is? Could it be the crest which went on the door of his horsedrawn carriage so everyone knew who was inside?

Sir Arthur, a grandson of the Joseph Pease who stands on a plinth in Darlington’s High Row, was born in the Hummersknott mansion in 1866. His branch of the family managed to avoid the banking collapse of 1902 that did so much damage to the other Peases in the area, and Sir Arthur remained as a director of colliery and railway companies.

Such was his prominence in the area, that in 1913, he opened the Darlington Railway Athletic ground on Brinkburn Road, and he opened the Shildon Institute, which is currently battling bravely for its future.

During the First World War, his industrial expertise was sought by the Government and he served on many committees, for which he was created the 1st Baronet of Hummersknott.

He was very much a coalowner, and he represented the Durham bosses in negotiations over miners’ minimum wages. In the depressed days of the 1920s, he argued that striking miners should be locked out of the pits.

However, in 1919, when Labour surprisingly won control of Durham County Council – it became the first Labour-controlled county council in the country – Labour leader Peter Lee could not afford to take the unpaid position of chairman of the council. Sir Arthur, a Unionist, proposed that the post should come with “considerable expenses” and this enabled Mr Lee to make his mark on history.

Sir Arthur was based in London for much of the time, but rented Middleton Lodge in Middleton Tyas from 1907 for when he needed to be in the region. Indeed, he died there in 1927 from a brain haemorrhage immediately after a colliery board meeting.

In September, we told the story of his grandson, Flying Officer Peter Pease, who died in the Battle of Britain at the controls of a Spitfire 75 years ago. He is buried near Sir Arthur in the family plot in Middleton Tyas church.