Memorial bench to be ‘unveiled’ in Garden

John Wilson Gray DCM's memorial at York Railway.
John Wilson Gray DCM's memorial at York Railway.

Last September, Tynemouth District Scout Council launched an appeal at a WWI Tribute Evening held at Linskill Community Centre with the aim of attracting sufficient funding to enable them to purchase a garden bench and plaque to complement the work which Tynemouth Coast Explorer Scouts had carried out during the development of the WWI Commemorative Garden, within the Linskill Community Centre.

Those present on the evening got the appeal off to an excellent start with cash contributions of £90. Through the generosity of the 14 Scout Groups who operate throughout the borough and equally some very generous individual donations, they reached the required target of £528.

The Memorial Garden Bench which has been manufactured by Key Enterprises Limited is to be ‘unveiled’ at a special ceremony at 11am on Saturday, January 24, at Linskill Centre by the Chairman and Consort of North Tyneside Council – Coun Tommy and Mrs Maureen Mulvenna.

A very attractive brass and iron commemorative plaque has been fixed to the bench in memory of and honouring the many Scouts from Tynemouth District who gave their lives in the conflict.

Commenting on the installation of the bench and plaque, Stephanie Doughty, the Scout’s District Commissioner said: “The whole WW1 Project has been very well supported by all our members and supporters; and firmly plants us into the heart of our community Thank you to everyone who has given their time and resources in assisting us to make this possible.”

As a new memorial is to be dedicated today, during the centenary period of the war, many of the memorials placed in the years immediately after the end of the conflict are in need of care and restoration.

It is pleasing to note that the many local memorials in the care of North Tyneside Council have been given fitting treatment in keeping with the increasing public interest and attention they now attract as families and others attend the commemorative events that are a part of the nation’s reinvigorated collective remembrance.

John Wilson Gray DCM a local man who died of wounds on 12th January, 1916, was an employee of the North Eastern Railway and an active member of the firm’s Ambulance group.

Although already in his forties he enlisted in the RAMC and was awarded the gallantry medal second only to the Victoria Cross.

Gray is remembered on the great memorial to the employees of the North Eastern Railway in York – nearby the Railway station, where many of the 22,000 men of Britain’s railway companies killed or died in the war are remembered.

After weather damage over many years rendered the names unreadable the memorial has been added to with bronze plaques placed alongside showing the names clearly. More fascinating detail on John Wilson Gray’s service and life before the war can be found on the project website

Our Information Centre on Tynemouth Front Street is now closed until spring 2015.

Anyone with information about anyone 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.