A CROWD-FUNDING campaign has been launched to raise £5,000 to buy a lost portrait of one of the region’s most important industrialists.

The painting of Henry Pease, creator of Saltburn and promoter of England’s highest railway over Stainmore, is known to have hung in his sumptuous mansion of Pierremont, in Darlington, more than 100 years ago, but it then went missing until it turned up last week on eBay.

Now Tees Valley Arts (TVA) is launching a campaign to bring Henry home.

“It is important because it’s a painting of a figure who as well as being a railway promoter and the founder of Saltburn was also a great visionary and a great inspiration,” said James Beighton, the executive director of TVA, which is a charity that promotes the value of the arts throughout the Tees Valley.

“His work as a peace activist is one of the areas of his life that is not so well known – he went to see the tsar of Russia in St Petersburg to try to stop the Crimean War – but if he had been alive today, he would probably win the Nobel Peace Prize,” he said.

“Our museums are very stretched in terms of their time and their budgets so TVA is running its first crowd-funding appeal.”

It is 150 years almost to the day since Henry Pease was made the first mayor of Darlington. He was the son of Edward, who is regarded as "the father of the railways", and the brother of Joseph, who stands on a statue in Darlington's High Row.

If successfully purchased, the painting will be given to the Dorman Museum in Middlesbrough, Kirkleatham Museum in Redcar, and the Head of Steam in Darlington, although it will be available for loan across the region.

The painting is in the hands of a York dealer, who has taken it off the market until December 22 so that TVA can raised the asking price.

It was painted by Jerry Barrett, a well regarded Victorian artist who has portraits of Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale in the National Portrait Gallery. It is dated 1882, which is the year after Henry’s death, but it shows him as a fairly young man.

“My assumption is that it was commissioned by Henry’s widow, Mary, but it could have been started much earlier and finished after his death,” said Mr Beighton. “There are so many stories connected to it that we want to find out, including what happened to it when it left the family.

“This is one of the benefits of crowd-funding: not only we will hopefully get the money but also we will get the interest and knowledge of hundreds, even thousands, of people, who will buy into the ownership of the painting.”

To pledge from £10 upwards, go to crowdfunder.co.uk/pease-portrait/