Memorial proving very popular with visitors

The Northumbria World War One Commemorative Project banner.
The Northumbria World War One Commemorative Project banner.

On Sunday, October 25, the First World War Memorial in the garden at the Linskill Centre was unveiled. Four large boards containing the names of about 1,500 casualties from the old borough of Tynemouth were available to the public for the first time after an unveiling ceremony in front of hundreds of relatives and guests.

It was one of the last acts of the four-year Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project that was guided by a Roll of Honour produced just after the war detailing the names and addresses of those casualties. In the course of their research some names were added who should’ve been on the original roll and a small number were taken out who had, at best, a very tenuous connection to the area.

With help from the Heritage Lottery Fund the Tynemouth project has now expanded into the Northumbria World War One project, which aims to build a comprehensive and accessible database of the casualties to cover the area of the modern borough of North Tyneside.

Early research has indicated a further 3,000 casualties in this wider area, which includes Whitley Bay on the coast, inland to Shiremoor, West Allotment, Killingworth, Forest Hall and further north to Dudley and Annitsford as well as Wallsend, Willington Quay and Howdon.

An evolving part of the Tynemouth project was to connect the casualties to those addresses still in existence by placing a Blue Plaque outside the residence, with details of the casualty who lived there. A significant number have already been placed but what about those whose homes no longer exist?

The idea to produce the boards was born. The project team had by this stage, following a suggestion from one of the volunteers, Valerie Huxtable, had cleared and replanted the garden in the quadrangle at the Linskill Community Centre where the project is based.

The result is an impressive display of all the casualties, under the name of the street they lived in before going to war, in a restful space within a thriving community centre.

The memorial is a graphic representation of the sacrifice made by those from the borough and is perhaps the only one of its kind in the country.

Since the opening, the garden has been visitedby a steady flow of people.

One of the names on the boards is that of Julius Charles Wedderkopp, originally from Denmark, who was a steward on the SS Glenmorven that ‘foundered’ somewhere off the coast at Scarborough on Boxing Day, 1914. Three generations of his family were able to attend the service.

Later a family from Buckinghamshire visited the garden even though their relative’s name, Private John William Douglas, from Wallsend, wasn’t on the memorial. They called into Linskill for information and volunteers researching Wallsend were able to help them and in turn gained information from the family about their relative to add to the growing database.

Remembrance Sunday is this weekend and an addition to the war memorial inside St George’s Church, Cullercoats, will be dedicated at the morning service that incorporates the church’s Remembrance Sunday service.

 Two ‘hinged doors’ have been added to the existing memorial carrying the names of 119 men connected to Cullercoats. This is an increase of 50 over the names shown on the external war memorial on the seafront, outside the church. The new names were identified by the ‘History Detectives’ – Year 6 pupils of Marden High School – who worked with the Vicar of St George’s Church.