THREE weeks ago, we told how the D&S Times had reported 100 years ago on one of the biggest donations to Darlington museum: 182 heads of exotic animals from around the world which had been shot by big game hunters, Mr and Mrs Sydney Pearson, in east Africa and in the Polar regions.

Among the exhibits was Fred the Polar Bear, a 9ft stuffed creature that is the stuff of many Darlingtonians’ childhood memories of a visit to the Tubwell Row museum.

In the intervening three weeks, more information has emerged about the donors. Mr Pearson was born in Richmond and lived in Askrigg with his wife, whose first name was never published. From the depths of the dales they had travelled to the heart of darkness where they had suffered “great hardship and privation”, as they progressed Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Sudan, blasting away at all they saw – Mrs Pearson was reckoned to be as good a shot as her husband.

In the swamps of Sudan, Mr Pearson had bagged a white rhino and a giant eland (a type of antelope) which were said to be “unique specimens”.

However, also in the swamps he contracted a terrible fever which required him being carried “on a litter by natives for 140 miles across the desert”.

The litter – a portable bed – was also among the items given to Darlington.

But despite the best efforts of the locals, Mr Pearson – who had also notched the unfortunate Fred in the Arctic – had died from the fever.

As his brother lived in Darlington, his collection became the centrepiece of the museum, which opened in the summer of 1921. Although we today may bridle at the unnecessary carnage as the Pearsons bagged “a royal black-maned lion, a huge white rhinoceros, a gigantic buffalo – second largest of its kind in the country – topi, tiang, oryx-bisa, gerenuk, giant and lesser elands, antelopes, hogs, gazelles, hippopotami, dinka, kondoo, cheeta, and a giraffe”, in the days before an Attenborough on a high definition TV, this was the way children were introduced to the wonders of the world.

The museum closed in 1998 and its contents seem to have been scattered to the four corners of the north, but someone must be able to tell us more about the big game hunters of Askrigg.