Events to mark end of war

Jed Grimes
Jed Grimes

The Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project, founded in 2011 and now Northumbria WWI Project, is planning a major exhibition of its volunteers’ work over the last eight years.

It will take place during the week commencing November 5, leading up to the national commemoration of the coming into effect of the Armistice on the Western Front at 11am on Monday, November 11, 1918.

There will be exhibitions of the project’s work on view at the Memorial Hall, Frank Street, Wallsend, from 10am to 4pm each day, Monday to Saturday, running from November 5 to 10.

This will cover all aspects of the involvement of the men and women of North Tyneside and tell the story of local people who had emigrated to the British Dominions and returned to fight with the forces of their adopted homelands, as well as the links with the north east of England and the entry of the United States into the war.

Work now under way with pupils at Carville Primary School will highlight the men and women from the school’s catchment area who died in the war, and with local artist Jed Grimes, the story of John Collinson will be examined.

Collinson was born in Shiremoor and educated in Wallsend, before training as a boilermaker at the Swan Hunter shipyards. He emigrated to Australia via South Africa in 1912, joining the Australian Imperial Force (army) in 1915 and ending up in France, where he was seriously wounded in October 1916.

Collinson’s remarkable transformation from boilermaker to operatic tenor after 12 months of surgery in London, when his singing under an aesthetic led to his introduction to Sir Henry Wood and training at the Royal Academy of Music, then subsequently to his touring Europe and working for the fledgling BBC, will be told by the pupils in their work with Jed.

It will culminate in the school choir performing Waltzing Matilda at the Information Day at the Memorial Hall in Wallsend on Saturday, November 10.

Collinson was the first man to record the unofficial Australian national anthem. His life story is one of remarkable change brought about by the war.

The Memorial Hall will be the venue for a concert at 7pm, on Friday, November 9, to mark the end of the war and the second phase of the project.

It is titled Our Journey’s End after the famous work of RC Sherriff. A wide ranging programme of music, dramatic excerpts and stories of some of the 4,000 casualties of the war in North Tyneside will fill an evening of entertainment and reflection on the project’s work and the wartime experience of our community. Full details available on the project website.

Tickets, £7, for the concert will be available from June 1, from the Memorial Hall, Frank Street, Wallsend, and the Project workroom at Room B9, Linskill Community Centre.

The project’s information centre is open on Sundays in Front Street, Tynemouth and has a large stock of second-hand books on Great War topics and general and non-fiction for sale.

New volunteers are welcome to join the project. To find out more contact tommy@northumbriaworldwarone.co.uk or call into the workroom at Linskill (Room B9) at Linskill Community Centre, North Shields, from 10am to 4pm.