Darlington is located on the River Skerne, in the county of Durham, approximately 250 miles north of London and 32 miles south of Newcastle.
The town has a population of around 98,000. Administratively it is within the Borough of Darlington which covers an area of approximately 197 sq kms.
It is an ancient and busy market town and industrial centre, renowned as the birthplace of the world's railways. There are some notable historic buildings, including the 12th-century St.Cuthbert's Church, one of the most important Early English churches in the north. It is a good base from which to explore the moors and dales, to the west, and the rugged Pennine Way.
The town began as an Anglo-Saxon settlement on the Skerne river. It has been a borough since Norman times with a flourishing market. By the Middle Ages, Darlington had become important for the export of wool, and the weaving and dyeing of cloth. During the reign of ELizabeth I, the town was one of the centres of the Rising of the North, a revolt against religious persecution. Leather and linen industries developed between 1600 and 1800 and the town continued to grow. The world's first ever passenger rail journey was between Shildon (via Darlington) and nearby Stockton-on-Tees on the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825. It became the headquarters of the North Eastern Railway with an important locomotive works. During this period it became the home of private locomotive builders Robert Stephenson & Company, Kitchings and others. The town was already large, with a busy textile industry, but the introduction of iron and steel industry increased its size further.
Historically the town's economy was based upon the wool industry before becoming a railway town involved in the manufacture of wagons, engines and track, and later developing as a general engineering centre. More recently iron-founding and production of knitting wools.
The name Darlington is thought to derive from Old English meaning 'estate of a man called Deornoth'. It was recorded in around 1009 as Dearthingtun.