The connections that school students today can make with the events of the Great War is limited by the ever-widening gap of time between our modern high-technology world and the much more simple and ordered life of their great grandfathers who fought and died 100 years ago.
It was therefore very pleasing that Marden High School in North Shields was successful in getting a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to explore the stories of the 90-plus casualties listed on the war memorial in front of St George’s Church in Cullercoats.
The memorial was re-dedicated last year following replacement of the bronze plaque that had been stolen.
After spending the last year exploring the stories of the men of Cullercoats listed on the memorial and working with volunteers from the Tynemouth Project, the History Detectives, as the group of year 7 students were named, were able to see the fruits of their work as 14 blue plaques were put up on Saturday in the village and, most poignantly, in Eleanor Street, where nine plaques were installed, including three on the former home of the Carr brothers.
The street was closed to traffic as more than 80 local residents and pupils involved in the research, joined by ward councillor David McMeachan and Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell, moved from house to house. Father Adrian Hughes, vicar of St George’s Church, gave a short address at each man’s home as the plaques were placed.
After placing the final plaque, a short service of commemoration was held, and two members of the cadet forces sounded the Last Post, followed by a minute of silence.
The event was particularly important for one pupil, Jonny Jordan, who lives today in one of the houses that is the former home of a victim of the war, Charles Henry Ridgeway.
It was pleasing to see the community break off from their daily lives to gather together and remember men of their local area who made the supreme sacrifice 100 years ago.
The pupils who have worked so hard to ensure that the stories of the men of Cullercoats are preserved for the future will have the satisfaction in years to come of showing their own children the blue plaques they funded and installed.
Images from the day will be posted on each casualty’s online record at www. tynemouthworldwarone.org
The public meeting held at Wallsend Customer First Centre and library on last Thursday was well attended as the work of the project and plans to extend coverage across the whole borough were discussed.
A further meeting will be held shortly to provide training for new volunteers, including anyone unable to attend the previous meeting.
The project’s information centre in Front Street, Tynemouth, adjacent to the library, is open at weekends for the spring and summer.
A number of small exhibitions of the project’s work and publications can be viewed and purchased.
Anyone with information about any North Tynesider killed during, or who died as a result of, the war is asked to contact the project.
The project workroom at Room B9 at Linskill Community Centre, in Trevor Terrace, North Shields, is open from 10am to 4pm each weekday for visitors and for anyone interested in learning more about the project or how to get involved.
Our address for correspondence is: c/o Essell, 29 Howard Street, North Shields, NE30 1AR.