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  • on March 8, 2015

Herbert Wolfe

DHC was pleased to receive an email from David Blair of the Co Durham History and Heritage Forum suggesting that the DHC History website page should include information about a distinguished member of the community, Herbert M Wolfe. He came to this country in 1933, fleeing the Nazis arriving with just 1/-, which he used to set up his chemical business and a passion for justice. Herbert died in 1979 aged 65 and is buried in the (New) Jewish Burial ground in Darlington West Cemetery. Thank you too, to Peter Freitag and Martin Finn who have supplied further information about Herbert.

From David Blair, who was at one time employed by Herbert Wolfe:
“Coming here as a refugee after the Second World War, he (Herbert) set up a chemical factory at Aycliffe with his brother Werner, providing many jobs locally.

On the civic side, he worked with the Liberal Party in Darlington, and was behind the fund raising for the statue outside of the Town Hall.

He also worked with Harold Evans, former editor of The Northern Echo, and then The Sunday Times to procure a posthumous pardon for Timothy Evans, who had been hanged wrongly for  murders committed by Reginald Christie in Rillington Place, London. There aren’t many people around who have such a commitment to giving something back to his (their) adopted home.”

From Peter Freitag , a former Liberal Councillor and current President of DHC
“Herbert and his younger brother Verna (Werner) (a Socialist) co-owned a Chemical Company in Newton Aycliffe which was twice taken over very advantageously.

Herbert campaigned successfully for the Head of Steam (Museum) at Darlington as the birth(place) of the railways. He further made sure that Locomotive No.1 built by George Stephenson and financed by the Pease family of Darlington was positioned on the platform of Darlington Station as of right.

He then together withthe Liberal Party of Darlington campaigned for the abolition of ‘hanging’. (the death penalty)

He enrolled the (local?) Liberal M.P, Ludovic Kennedy and even more importantly, the then Editor of the Northern Echo and later of the Sunday Times and New York Times – Harold Evans.

The centre of this campaign was over the wrongful conviction and later hanging of Timothy Evans for the murder of his family. John Christie was eventually found guilty and convicted of these crimes. Unfortunately they could not ‘un-hang’ Timothy Evans!

Herbert’s contribution to both these campaigns, reflected great credit on the Congregation and the Liberal Party.” From Martin Finn, a former President of DHC. ” He (Herbert) was one of the main instigators of the foundation of the Darlington Railway Museum and played an important role in the (I think ) centenary celebrations of the Darlington and Stockton railway which was the first passenger line in the country. He was also president of the Congregation up to his sudden death.

He was a gentle, softly spoken man who worked quietly on many communal projects without pushing himself into the limelight.

He was very interested in Meissen porcelain and built up a large personal collection as well as becoming quite an expert on the subject. He, and his wife after his death, were strong supporters of the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle. In fact they donated a number of pieces to the museum and the last time I visited several of them were on display.”

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