Project places its first blue plaque outside old borough

Soldiers of the Shadows, a talk by Tony Ball of the Western Front Association.
Soldiers of the Shadows, a talk by Tony Ball of the Western Front Association.

A gathering of family relatives of John Oscar Hart saw a blue plaque placed at his former home at 41 Garden Terrace Earsdon village on Sunday.

Hart was killed in action on October 10, 1916.

Representatives of North Tyneside Council, including the chairman Tommy Mulvennna and Gary Bell, vice-chairman of the council and chairman of the forces veterans affairs committee with his consort and St Mary’s Ward councillors, Judith Wallace, Pamela McIntyre and Ed Hodson, joined project volunteers and members of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers – ‘All Ranks’ Association to pay respect to his memory.

James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, the organisation which in its former days as the Newcastle and Gateshead Chamber raised three battalions of men including John Hart’s 19th Battalion, also attended the event.

He thanked the project for its work in remembering the men raised and funded by the chamber 100 years ago.

Also in attendance was Tynmouth MP Alan Campbell.

Hart was formerly of North Shields where his parents lived in Grey Street

Married with four children, he had worked latterly at Backworth Colliery before enlisting in autumn 1914.

His name was included in the Tynemouth Roll of Honour and so he is one of many ‘sons of the borough’ who had moved to near and faraway places but who were accorded recognition 1923.

To read his biography, go to

It was appropriate that in the week the expansion of the project area began with a meeting in Dudley that the first of these plaques was placed in a community of the wider borough of today.

The Low Lights Tavern was packed when Alan Campbell, MP, delivered a fascinating appreciation of the change wrought in the British political landscape by four years of war.

A conflict which ended the duopoly of Conservatives and Liberals in the parliamentary political balance also saw the growing strength of the Labour Party as the long shadow of settlement of the ‘Irish question’ was removed from Westminster in the aftermath of the war.

The next talk at the Low Lights Tavern, Brewhouse Bank, Fish Quay, will be given on Tuesday, March 10, at 7.30pm, when Tony Ball of the Western Front Association will consider the role of British military intelligence on the Western Front.

The talk is not ticketed but anyone interested in attending is advised to turn up early as seating is limited.

Preparations are in hand for the display of a new small exhibition which will feature the story of the Tyneside Irish Brigade; a part of the Northumberland Fusiliers in the Great War.

Over the past four years the project has uncovered a number of stories involving local men who served with the brigade’s four battalions, who made a magnificent but ultimately untenable and costly advance on the first day of July 1916 at the beginning of the Somme tragedy.

To mark their role in the local story of the war, the project is holding a ceilidh at Linskill Community Centre on Saturday, March 14, from 7.30pm until late, with music provided by 5 Strung Out and Jed Grimes with Liam Fender.

Young Irish dancers from the Tyneside Irish Centre will start the evening off and a supper and auction will be included.

Tickets (£6) can be bought at Keel Row Bookshop, Fenwick Terrace, Preston Road, North Shields, and from Linskill Community Centre reception, including by telephone on (0191) 257 8000.

Anyone with information about anyone who was killed or died as a result of the war is asked to contact the project.

The project workroom at Room B9, Linskill Community Centre, Trevor Terrace, North Shields, is open from 10am to 4pm each weekday for visitors and for anyone interested to learn more about the project or how to get involved.

The address for correspondence is c/o Essell, 29 Howard Street, North Shields NE30 1AR.