North Tyneside’s war memorials undergo repairs

The Tommy statue pictured alongside the cenotaph in Whitley Bay which has undergone repairs.
The Tommy statue pictured alongside the cenotaph in Whitley Bay which has undergone repairs.

A major programme of repairs to war memorials is being carried out as North Tyneside gets ready to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

The council is investing up to £100,000 to refurbish 15 historic monuments around the borough ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice next month.

Memorials in New York, North Shields, Backworth, Shiremoor, Seaton Burn, Whitley Bay, Benton, Cullercoats, Holy Cross, Preston, Earsdon, Tynemouth, West Allotment and Forest Hall will all undergo repairs.

The council is working with the War Memorials Trust to secure additional funding to support the repairs.

It comes after repairs were carried out to a number of war memorials throughout North Tyneside in 2014 to coincide with the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Coun Gary Bell, North Tyneside Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “As a council we wish to honour those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War.

“It’s fantastic to see community groups, the Heritage Lottery Fund who have supported some of the projects, local schools and the Royal British Legion all working together in collaboration.

“In partnership with these various groups a full programme has been developed to ensure this historical moment is not forgotten. We will remember them.”

The authority has also worked with local communities and partners to put on a number of events and activities to mark the centenary.

An exhibition, entitled Hearts at Peace: How WW1 changed peoples’ lives in North Tyneside, is currently taking place at Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum.

A range of events, including a Remembrance Day tea dance, a choir performance and history displays, are being held in Customer First Centres, and a free exhibition about the Northumbria World War One Commemoration Project is taking place at Wallsend Memorial Hall.

A commemoration event including an Armistice Centenary service will take place at St John’s Parish Church in Killingworth where local schoolchildren will lay wreaths.

The annual poppy appeal will be launched and three, 6ft high Tommies, silhouette figures of First World War soldiers, will be placed around the borough.

One will be permanently displayed in front of Spanish City in Whitley Bay, near the cenotaph on the Links, along with a plaque, and two will go on tour at various locations suggested by the public.

There will be an act of remembrance and two minutes’ silence in Killingworth ahead of Remembrance Sunday, while a number of services will take place throughout North Tyneside on Remembrance Sunday itself.

In addition, thousands of knitted poppies will be displayed at the main gates at each of the council’s seven cemeteries, as well as some churches.

Many groups have been involved, including the Woolies based at the Linskill Centre, the knitting and crocheting groups at Battle Hill Library, Hobbycraft Silverlink, the ladies of Kings Lodge Sheltered Housing, North Shields, and St Paul’s Church, Willington Quay.

Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “I am delighted to see so many events and activities taking place throughout the borough to mark the centenary of the First World War Armistice.

“It is also fantastic to see so many of our war memorials undergoing vital repairs and our investment demonstrates our commitment to properly recognising the importance of the anniversary.

“I look forward to seeing many of our residents come together at the special services and other events, which I’m sure will be a fitting tribute to those who served in battle.”

Poppy Arnold, North Tyneside’s Elected Young Mayor, will be helping launch this year’s poppy appeal and will also perform a reading at one of the Remembrance Sunday services.

She said: “It means so much to be involved in the events to mark the centenary – it is important that young people are taught the importance of remembering those who have served in conflict.

“This has extra significance for me personally as I will be turning 13 on November 11, and I was named after the flower that symbolises peace. My great granddad was also a staunch supporter of the Royal British Legion and he served in the war, while my great grandmother was an ambulance driver.

“As Young Mayor, I’m also really proud of my Cabinet who have helped fund one of the Tommy statues as they are a unique way of raising awareness of the centenary.”

For a full list of events and activities as part of the North Tyneside First World War centenary celebrations, visit https://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/node/22026