Public meetings for new First World War project

the War Memorial at the MEM Hall in Wallsend.
the War Memorial at the MEM Hall in Wallsend.

Following on from the successful project that researched nearly 2,000 casualties of the Great War 1914-18 from the former borough of Tynemouth, creating a ground breaking database, a grant of £72,400 has been received from the Heritage Lottery Fund to extend that research.

It will now include the rest of the modern borough of North Tyneside. This will be known as the Northumbria World War One project.

The Tynemouth project had the benefit of a Roll of Honour of casualties that was produced in 1923 by two local men, however, the new project sadly is not so blessed.

Research will be based on local memorials, graves, newspaper reports, limited rolls of honour and databases such as the North East Memorials Project, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Soldiers Died in the Great War.

Preliminary research suggests that a further 3,000 casualties from the North Tyneside area paid the ultimate price in the war.

For practical research purposes ,the new project will divide the remainder of the North Tyneside borough into three areas.

The Wallsend area, to include Willington Quay to the east and Bigges Main in the north, the Whitley Bay area including Backworth, Monkseaton, Shiremoor, New York and West Allotment and finally, the area roughly in the north west of the borough that includes the former mining communities such as Dudley, Seaton Burn, Wideopen in the north across to Forest Hall in the west.

Public meetings have been arranged throughout the borough announcing the new project and to encourage volunteers to join up.

The John Willie Sams Centre in Dudley will host the first meeting on Wednesday, June 10, from 7pm.

This is followed the next night, Thursday, June 11, by a meeting at Wallsend Library, again at 7pm.

The third meeting takes place at Whitley Bay Library on Thursday, June 18, from 3pm.

A panel will be on hand to answer questions about the project and to sign up volunteers.

The general public are also asked to bring along any family artefacts they may have such as photographs, medals, letters and diaries relating to relatives who died in the Great War.

The project will continue to be based at The Linskill Community Centre in North Shields, however, a research room has been set aside, with the help of North Tyneside Council, at the John Willie Sams Centre in Dudley for volunteers in the north west of the borough.

It is hoped that a couple of other venues can be adopted elsewhere to enable easier access for the public of North Tyneside to the project.

Another aspect of the project will include the social implications of such a severe loss of life to the communities within the borough.

It is hoped to get a sense of the life of the area with a diary of day-to-day events from local newspaper cuttings and other accounts.

Also a couple of smaller projects within the main body of the project have been included. Students from Percy Hedley School, based in Forest Hall, will be involved in research as will the Friends of Segedunum who will research those streets that in 1914-18 covered the Roman settlement.

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 Tynemouth project’s work and publications can be viewed and purchased.

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

The main 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