More volunteers needed for memorial plaques

Andrew Ramsay (second left), from Lloyds Bank, with members of the Northumbria World War One project.
Andrew Ramsay (second left), from Lloyds Bank, with members of the Northumbria World War One project.

The Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project (now Northumbria) began its programme of placing memorial blue plaques at the former homes of men lost in the Great War in 2014.

Volunteers have been engaged in contacting the current residents of men’s homes and getting consent to place plaques.

Although some 1,850 men are named on the Northumbria database as being associated with the former borough of Tynemouth, it has only been possible to identify around 350 homes still standing where residents are willing to have a plaque. It is now thought that the total number of plaques will not exceed 300.

However, more than 1,600 men who lived at a known address are included in the Memorial Garden at Linskill Community Centre.

The 200th plaque, for Thomas Nelson Melrose, was placed on August 24 at Horsley Terrace in Tynemouth.

A former employee of Lloyds Bank at Wallsend, Thomas was a former pupil of Tynemouth High School who enlisted at the outbreak of war and saw much active service. He had only recently returned to the front when he was killed at the Somme on November 14, 1916, while leading his company into action.

An active member of his community, Thomas was remembered on memorials at Percy Park RFC, Tynemouth Amateur Rowing Club and St Columba’s Church, as well as on the village war memorial in Tynemouth Front Street.

Andrew Ramsay, the manager of the Wallsend branch of Lloyds Bank today, saw the plaque installed. The bank created a national memorial to all its employees lost to the war and extracts are on the Northumbria database.

As the project now covers the whole of North Tyneside we need to strengthen the plaque team. We will soon begin work to get consents for Whitley Bay, where many former homes of the war dead still remain, unlike North Shields, where slum clearance and bombing in World War II removed them.

Anyone interested in getting involved would be welcome. Contact us at info@northumbriaworldwarone.co.uk or call into our workroom at Linskill Community Centre, Monday to Thursday, from 10am to 4pm.

The project will be providing guided tours around Tynemouth Preston Cemetery at 11am, and Wallsend Church Bank cemetery at 1.30pm on Sunday, September 11 as part of the Heritage Open Days. You can learn about some of the men remembered there.

The next talk at the Low Lights Tavern, Fish Quay, North Shields, will be at 7.30pm on Tuesday, September 13, featuring the story of the railways in World War I, particularly the narrow gauge railway at the front.

The workroom is open from 10am to 4pm each weekday for enquiries.