Sunniside Local History Society

Monuments & Sculptures


Tyne and Wear has a wealth of public monuments and sculptures of all ages. It has been fortunate in not suffering the loss of major memorials and statues through either war time damage or major town redevelopments and is now one of the key metropolitan areas in the country for historic public statues and monuments erected before the Second World War. In addition, particularly through the work of Gateshead Council, it is now a leading area for modern sculpture. We would like to draw attention to the sheer diversity of public monuments and sculpture in which the County can take pride.

Pictured above is probably our most famous icon, The Angel of the North, it is a contemporary sculpture, designed by Sir Antony Gormley, located near Gateshead in Tyne and Wear, England.Completed in 1998, it is a steel sculpture of an angel, 20 metres (66 ft) tall, with wings measuring 54 metres (177 ft) across. The wings do not stand straight sideways, but are angled 3.5 degrees forward; Gormley did this to create "a sense of embrace". It stands on a hill on the southern edge of Low Fell, overlooking the A1 and A167 roads into Tyneside, and the East Coast Main Line rail route, south of the site of Team Colliery.

Due to its exposed location, the sculpture was built to withstand winds of over 100 mph (160 km/h). Thus, foundations containing 600 tonnes of concrete anchor the sculpture to rock 70 feet (21 m) below. The sculpture was built at Hartlepool Steel Fabrications Ltd using weather- resistant steel. It was made in three parts with the body weighing 100 tonnes and two wings weighing 50 tonnes each then brought to its site by road. It took five hours for the body to be transported from its construction site in Hartlepool, up the A19 road to the site.

The Angel aroused some controversy in British newspapers, at first, including a "Gateshead stop the statue" campaign, while local councillor Martin Callanan was especially strong in his opposition. However, it has since been considered to be a landmark for North East England and has been listed by one organisation as an "Icon of England". It has often been used in film and television to represent Tyneside, as are other local landmarks such as the Tyne Bridge and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.


The Gibside Monument

At Gibside estate near Burnopfield Co Durham, over a period of some 45 years coal owner George Bowes laid out a magnificent landscape on an epic scale. The core of the design consists of a series of intersecting axial avenues allowing lengthy and striking views. Bowes adorned his landscape with a series of grand edifices and the two greatest of these, the Chapel and the Column of British Liberty, face each other along the axis which includes the Grand Walk.

Having decided to build a column George Bowes was careful to take advice. He consulted Capability Brown, then at Stowe, where he had designed a column to his master Lord Cobham in 1747. There is some suggestion that Bowes may have been checking the scale of the Stowe column to make sure his was bigger. He also visited the yard of John Cheere, a leading sculptor of the day. At this time the subject to surmount the column had not been decided and Cheere recommended Jupiter, Diana or Aurora. The sculptor eventually employed was a stone-carver, Christopher Richardson of Darlington. Richardson frequently worked with James Paine, who was employed as architect to finish the column following the death in 1753 of Daniel Garrett, almost certainly the original architect.

The foundations were begun in 1750 but the monument was not completed until 1757. The finished column is on a truly monumental scale. At over 140 ft high it was exceeded in height only by Wren's monument commemorating the Great Fire of London. A tall Doric column rises from a sturdy pedestal. Above this is a drum with a tall capstan ¬shaped support for the statue of Liberty. She is dressed in classical drapery, originally gilded, and carries the Staff of Maintenance and the Cap of Liberty. This was a time of exuberant nationalism. "Rule Britannia" was published in 1745. Also of this time is "God Save the King" with words by James Thomson, who in his poem "Liberty" refers to the Staff of Maintenance and the Cap of Liberty. The column at Gibside is a monument to George Bowes' wealth, standing and influence and by his choice of figure to surmount it, the monument became a symbol of Whig supremacy.

Duke of Northumberland (1838 - 41) Sculptor: C. Tate and R. G. Davies

On the forecourt of Master Mariner’s Homes, Tynemouth Road pictured above on the right, is the sandstone figure of the robed Duke of Northumberland standing on a tapered square pedestal, the word "Northumberland" inscribed above a secondary plaque commemorating the centenary of the Tyne Mariners' Benevolent Institution, unveiled on 11th September 1937. Interesting because the monument was begun by Tate who unfortunately died before its completion and the work was finished by Davies.


Hill Lane, Penshaw, Houghton Le Spring

Bestriding the summit of Penshaw Hill is the monument, in the form of a Greek temple, to John George Lambton, first Earl of Durham (1792-1840), Governor - General of Canada, Grand Master of the Order of Freemasons, Member of Parliament, one time Lord Privy Seal, landowner and coal owner. Erected in 1844 by private subscription, its design by the Greens of Newcastle was executed by Thomas Pratt of Sunderland. The monument comprises Greek Doric columns (4 by 7) with en tablatures and end pediments but no roof. The columns stand upon a solid stone platform. There is no inscription on the monument

It is variously described as "an important manifestation of the Greek revival in the region" and "merely the most striking example of a long funereal tradition." Contemporary accounts describe it as being based on the Temple of Theseus at Athens but to different proportions. It is probably best described in Pevsner's Buildings of England: "From a distance, especially the east, the monument looms as an apparition of the Acropolis under hyperborean skies". Its juxtaposition to the nearby Victoria Railway Viaduct, designed to resemble the Roman bridge at Alcantara in Spain, is often commented on. Its position as probably the most important landmark in the County has been enhanced by the recent addition of a floodlighting scheme picking out the columns of the monument which on typically gloomy nights appears to float above the earth below.

Mowbray Park, Sunderland.

The life size figure of Jack Crawford dressed in seaman's garb above on the right, nailing a flag to a mast using a pistol butt as a hammer. Irregularly piled pieces of limestone support the plinth which bears the inscription "the sailor who so heroically nailed Admiral Duncan's flag to the main top-gallant mast of HMS Venerable in the glorious action off Camperdown on October 11 1797. Jack Crawford was born at the Pottery Bank, Sunderland, 1775 and died in his native town 1831 aged 56 years. Erected by public subscription."

The Battle of Camperdown was one of the most significant sea battles of the wars against revolutionary France. By defeating the Dutch in this encounter, the British fleet is thought to have thereby forestalled the landing of an invasion force in Ireland. The action of Crawford, which took place after the top of Duncan's mast had been shot away by the Dutch, was designed to illustrate that theAdmiral's colours had not been lowered. Whilst the general gist of this story is true the interpretation of events has undergone a certain amount of elaboration with the years. Geoffrey Milburn and Stuart Miller in their splendid "Sunderland River, Town and People" observe that "It is not clear whether Crawford volunteered, was ordered, or was pushed, or whether he used a marling spike, hammer or pistol butt, but he did climb the mast and nail the flag to it. The incident earned him a hero's treatment.

His action was re-enacted in tableau in the victory procession in London, he was formally presented to the King and the government later granted him a pension of £30 a year. His home town presented him with a silver medal in March 1798. It is likely that the government propaganda machine lay behind this lionisation an 'everyman' hero was desperately needed to try and identify the lower orders with a very unpopular war, fought by a nervous and repressive government." Crawford died in Sunderland in 1831, the second sorry victim of what was Britain's first outbreak of cholera, and was buried in the churchyard of Sunderland Parish Church. Interest in him was rekindled in the 1880s when an impressive new headstone was erected and in the following year when the monument was begun - although why this rush of enthusiasm for this latter day hero manifested itself at this time is not clear. Not everyone shared the view of Crawford represented in either the heroic stories of the years following the Battle of Camperdown or in the celebration of his actions depicted on the later monument.


The Original War Memorial pictured on the right at New Seaham Park which bears the inscription ‘This memorial was erected by the Workmen and Friends of New Seaham in Sacred Remembrance of their Comrades who fell in the Great War 1914-18’. There is no mention of those who fought and returned.

There is now a nine foot five inch welded metal statue on Terrace Green. It depicts a soldier of the First World War sitting on an ammunition box, rifle in hand, head bowed. Named ‘Eleven O One’ by its creator, artist Ray Lonsdale, the locals know it, simply, as ‘Tommy’, the universal nickname for a British soldier – particularly of the First World War. He was placed on temporary display in Seaham in the summer of 2014, but Tommy attracted so much affection that a campaign was launched to buy him and keep him in the town. The necessary £85,000 was raised surprisingly quickly and Tommy will remain in Seaham permanently. Practically speaking, it has been estimated that he won’t need to be moved for repair for at least 200 years; a time capsule has been buried beneath him. Seaham, an attractive place but with too many boarded-up windows, does not strike you as a town with cash to spare; paying for this remarkable sculpture is a powerful achievement.

So – Eleven O One represents a soldier in the first moments of peace after the armistice. The artist took a chance – no one commissioned the work; he was inspired by the story of a local man, and by what he had heard of shell-shock – the severe mental condition that many soldiers suffered from, and from which many never recovered, that we would recognise today as post-traumatic stress disorder.


View of Penshaw Monument from sculpture "Site Lines" by David Paton

Herrington Country Park was once the site of Herrington Colliery, which closed in 1985. By that time the colliery waste heap was the largest in the North East at some 11,000,000 cu. M. of shale, and blighted the lives of the local communities.

Cast in the shadow of Penshaw monument it was transformed into what we believe is the premier park of the northeast and covers almost 200 hectares, linking up the villages of Penshaw, Herrington and Shiney Row. During the transformation, nothing other than coal left the site and useful minerals like sandstone, red ash and clays were used in its development, the sandstone for the sculptures, the red ash for the many pathways and the clays to line the lakes.

The park is now the home of The Miners Memorial Service, The Race for Life and The Race for Grace, as well as many other events supported by the local community. In its short history over a hundred species of birds have been sighted.

Queen Victoria (1903) pictured above on the right. Sculptor: Alfred Gilbert Location: Adjacent to St Nicholas' Cathedral. Materials: Bronze and Pink Granite. Status: Listed Grade II*.

The figure of the elderly Queen Victoria is seated on the throne with an elaborate canopy on a pink granite base is by the sculptor Alfred Gilbert. It was erected as the gift of Sir William Haswell Stephenson, Mayor of the City, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Shrievality of the City. The base of the statue is similar in design to that of Sir Alfred Gilberts most famous work 'Eros' in Piccadilly Circus. The story is, that the figure faces west so that the Queen will not have her back to the cathedral, which would have been insulting to the church, or the Town Hall which once faced the cathedral which would have been insulting to the corporation.


Bishopwearmouth Cemetery

The emotionally moving memorial to perhaps the most distressing human tragedy in the North East in modern times in which 183 children, most between the ages of 7 and 11, were crushed and suffocated inside the Victoria Hall on Toward Road, Sunderland on 16th June 1883. Whilst the loss of life at the Hartley Colliery Disaster in 1862 was higher the loss of so many children in one tragedy can only be compared to the Aberfan disaster in 1966. The circumstances were more akin, however, to the more recent Hillsborough and Ibrox Football Ground Disasters. The sheer volume of people attempting to descend a winding staircase from the gallery, where approximately 1100 children were sitting, to the stage, where free toys were being distributed, caused a huge melee of bodies to be crushed against a door which would only open inwards and resulted in the appalling loss of life in terrible circumstances.

The memorial was built using part of the money which poured into the town after news of the tragedy spread throughout the country. The life-size white marble statue depicts a grieving mother holding a dead child on her lap. An inscription on the pedestal records the tragedy. The memorial was originally sited in Mowbray Park where it stood under a canopy outside the scene of the accident. The Hall itself stood sullenly in place until it was destroyed by a bomb in the Second World War. The monument was removed to its present position without its canopy some years later. Following the disaster, legislation was passed making compulsory the provision of adequate and outward- opening exits at all places of public entertainment.

St. Alban's Churchyard

204 men and boys lost their lives in the Hester Pit of Hartley Colliery in January 1862 following the breaking of the engine beam above the single shaft of the mine. The fractured cast metal beam fell into the shaft bringing massive amounts of debris in its wake and blocking the shaft. A large number of miners were underground at the time, it being a changeover time for shifts at the colliery. The workforce were trapped for many days, whilst frantic attempts were made to unblock the shaft, sadly to no avail for when access to the workings was finally gained 6 days later all 204 miners had suffocated in the foul underground conditions.

The memorial, pictured above on the right, to the tragedy was erected in Earsdon Churchyard where some of the dead were laid to rest; the churchyard was too small to hold all the bodies and the adjacent field was also used for the burials. The funeral cortege is reported to have been so long that as the first group of mourners arrived at the Church the last had not left Hartley village over two miles away.

The monument is a tall corniced pedestal supporting an obelisk. The names and ages of the dead, a number as young as 11, are inscribed on the faces of the pedestal and show the harrowing effect on the community and on individual families of the disaster. The monument bears biblical inscriptions and words recording the cause and date of the "fatal catastrophe".

The event was instrumental in the bringing forth of legislation in August 1862 requiring all mines to have alternative means of access, in effect two shafts, to prevent a further tragic occurrence of this nature.


The Charlton Memorial Fountain in Saltwell Park Gateshead,

It is slightly unusual in that it was built and unveiled in the life time of the subject, George Charlton, who had the dubious privilege of listening to the eulogies and plaudits traditional to such occasions. Charlton commented that of all the strange and indescribable feelings he had had during a long life, none approached that which he felt that evening. He imagined he could stand any amount of banter, of manly opposition, but for a man with any sensitiveness at all to sit and hear what he had heard about himself was one of the hardest ordeals that poor humanity could be put through.

The fountain was erected to celebrate Charlton's lifetime achievements as a social, political and religious reformer, as a pillar of the temperance movement, twice mayor of Gateshead and campaigner "for the abolition of slavery, in favour of free trade, electoral reform, peace, retrenchment, and greatest and chiefest of all, the total abstinence from intoxicating liquors" as Mr. Robert Spence Watson described it as he unveiled the fountain. He also noted that, following the memorials to George Hawks in Windmill Park (1865) and Renforth that this was only the third monument in Gateshead but that "it is one in honour of the living, quite as representative in its character, and embodies features quite as noble and commendable - in fact, more so - than the others for it relates to the higher and better life; and standing as it does in a place which aims at elevating the people, socially and morally".

The fountain itself is an ornate Gothic four sided structure with four polished grey granite stone bowls standing on a square stepped base. Besides an inscription to George Charlton "Mayor of Gateshead 1874 and 1875 in recognition. of his labours in. the cause of social reform" the monument carries two portrait heads and a coat of arms.

Wesley Memorial Drinking Fountain Quayside Newcastle

Erected to mark the centenary of the death of John Wesley the memorial was the gift of Mr. Utrick Alexander Ritson J.P. to the Corporation. The monument, pictured above on the right, commemorates the work of the founder of Methodism in Newcastle, notably his first visit to the town in 1742. On that occasion, early on the morning of Sunday May 30th, a crowd of over a thousand people are said to have congregated in the Sandgate - which Wesley described in his journal as "the poorest and most contemptible part of the town" - to hear him preach. Later that same day he preached again to a rapt crowd and later in the year the foundation stone of the Wesley Orphan House, the second Methodist chapel to be built in England, was laid in Northumberland Street. An inscribed stone still testifies to the site of that chapel.

The monument, originally erected in the Milk Market near the spot at which Wesley first preached, consists of an obelisk set via a carved plinth on a 900mm square base with a low trough on the North-west face and a basin on the opposite side. The overall height is approximately 3.5m. When the fountain was erected the Corporation agreed not only to freely grant the site of the monument but also to supply the fountain with water free of cost. In accepting the monument for the Corporation the Mayor commented that it was impossible to estimate the wonderful and beneficient work John Wesley did for the masses of the English people and that he hoped those who used the fountain would do homage to the memory of one to whom they owed so much and that the spot where Wesley had stood and taught would be remembered for generations to come.

The memorial fountain was restored by Tyne and Wear Urban Development Corporation and repositioned on the riverside promenade in 1995.


Maccoy Drinking Fountain Ellison Street Gateshead

Another monument on the move - this was originally erected in Brunswick Terrace but was moved when the street was demolished to make way for the Interchange Centre. Initially dismantled and stored it was re-erected on its present site in 1986 pictured above on the right. It is a four sided drinking fountain with four bowls, standing on an octagonal plinth with two steps. John Maccoy, later Sir John, was eight times Mayor of Gateshead in the period from 1912 to 1923 and became a Honorary Freeman in 1930. He died in 1935.

Blenkinsopp - Coulson Memorial Fountain Horatio Street Newcastle

A larger than life portrait bust of William L. Blenkinsopp, pictured on the right, Coulson erected to mark his efforts to assist the weak and defenceless "among mankind and in the animal world", standing above a pink granite plinth and two fountain bowls, one on the river side and a much larger one on the road side - one being for humans and one for animals. This originally stood in Percy Street before being moved to the Haymarket from where it was removed in 1950 to its present site to allow improved traffic movement in the Haymarket.


‘Garden Front’ Jesmond Metro Station Newcastle 1977

Raf Fulcher was commissioned by Northern Arts and Tyne & Wear County Council to create what was to be the first artwork at the new series of stations connected to the Metro rail system. Fulcher's work consisted of a series of stylised sculptures which "The Great Metro Guide to Tyne & Wear" describes as "reminiscent of those triangular trees which can be found in formal gardens in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries". Paul Usherwood has observed that Fulcher's work "wittily combines motifs culled from a wide variety of sources". Fulcher is a long-time teacher of sculpture at the University of Sunderland.

‘Swans In Flight’ Civic Centre, Newcastle Statue 1968

A sculpture above on the right, commissioned for the then new Civic Centre, 'Swans in Flight' is based on Hans Hartvig Seedorff Pederson's "The Swans from the North" - a Scandinavian poetic work - representing the five Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their creation as independent states. An article in the 'City News' of 1969 noted that "The poise and confidence shown in 'Swans in Flight' is symbolic of the new Newcastle - a place which surely knows where it is going". A fountain sprays water into the face of the swans. The sculpture stands in the quadrangle of the now listed Civic Centre, a complex recognised in its grade II* status as nationally the most architecturally prestigious of all the post-war civic centres and municipal offices. A copy of the sculpture stands at the Ambassador College, Big Sandy, Texas.


‘The Iron Horse’ Four Lane Ends Station 1982

David Kemp's sculpture depicting a wheeled horse and carriage fabricated from a complex variety of metal, scrap and artefacts contains an abundance of references to the transport theme and location which it adorns and is typical of Kemp's use of found objects. The coarse and rudimentary construction contrasts sharply with the then state of the art vitreous enamel finishes of the station itself - a medium in which artists in some cases were encouraged to work. The iron horse alludes to the earliest days of the rail system, the horse itself a passing reference to the life and movement of both the human and mechanical traffic within the station.

‘Parsons Polygon’ Blackett Street, Newcastle 1985

Still a vibrant contribution to the street scene of the Monument area, Parsons Polygon above on the right, is probably the most viewed but least appreciated of the Metro artworks. Containing as it does a ventilation shaft for the system it is testimony to the ability of even the most rudimentary functional equipment to provide the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the visual amenity.


Alnwick War Memorial

Alnwick is a historic and busy market town situated in central Northumberland some six miles from the coast. Alnwick has a population of around 8,000 but this swells during the summer months when the town becomes a popular destination for thousands of visitors.

The War Memorial is located at the junction of Denwick Lane and Bondgate Without. A wreath laying ceremony takes place at the war memorial each year on Remembrance Sunday.

The Memorial was unveiled in 1922 and has three bronze military figures in World War I uniform at each of its corners.

The Venerable Bede Memorial Board, pictured above on the right.

Is now located at the Royal Artillery Club, Mary Street, Sunderland, SR1 3NH. It is available for viewing by the public during opening hours which are 12.00noon to 11.00pm daily.

The Memorial Board was originally in the Venerable Bede Church until its demolition in 1963. The Church which was in Monk Street, Monkwearmouth was the main parish church for the parish known as the Parish of the Venerable Bede.

The Memorial Board was originally dedicated on 11th September 1920 by Captain Edward Noel Mellish who was the first member of the Army Chaplains Department to win a Victoria Cross whilst serving in Ypres in April 1916.

The Memorial commemorates 161 people from the Monkwearmouth area who were killed in the Great War (World War 1) during the years 1914 to 1919.

The re-dedication Ceremony was held in the presence of HRH The Duke of Kent, President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on Thursday 11 November 2010. Donations from relatives, supporters and The Sir Tom Cowie Charitable Trust funded the renovation.


The Tenantry Monument

To the south of Alnwick town centre, near Alnwick Castle on the North East coast, rises a 25-metre Greek Doric column, guarded by four stone lions. On the west panel at the bottom is the inscription: To Hugh, Duke of Northumberland K.G. This column is Erected, Dedicated and Inscribed By a Grateful and United Tenantry Anno Domini MDCCCXVI

Erected just a few years after the Battle of Waterloo, the column is symbolic of the profound effect that the war in France had on landowners and their tenants.

For over 700 years, the Percy family has owned a great deal of the land surrounding Alnwick. Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland, had served during the Seven Years War in France and in the American War of Independence. Rising within the British Army's ranks, by 1777 he was a lieutenant general who, despite lifelong poor health, was described as 'honourable and brave, candid and decent, impeccably mannered, and immensely generous with his wealth' - according to historian David Hackett Fischer's research into memories of the duke.

Returning to the Northumberland family seat on his accession to the title in 1786, Percy became known for his direct relationship with his tenants, which included establishing the Percy Tenantry Volunteers in 1798. The local unit was trained over the following years to defend the North East from invasion by Napoleon's army, which the duke considered a distinct possibility. Percy held twice-weekly meetings with local residents and trades people at Alnwick Castle, which bolstered his popularity. Despite his military reputation - he was said to have a terrible temper and had resigned his command during the American war after falling out with General Howe, allegedly over a quantity of hay - the duke's approachable nature was widely respected.

Riding the rent tide

The suspected attack by the French never materialised. In fact, by the turn of the 19th century, farmers across the North East were prospering, due to the high cost of agricultural goods sold to support English troops. Accordingly, when the duke - one of the richest men in England - first increased his rents, doubling or even tripling the amounts, his tenants were able to absorb the cost.

But when peace broke out in 1815, the ensuing agricultural depression affected prices and the farmers were unable to meet Percy's rent increases. However, in an unusual show of 19th century feudal decency, he reduced his rents.

Guarded by Percy lions (pictured above on the right)

Grateful for this act of mercy, Percy's tenants erected the column in Alnwick in 1816. Also known as 'The Farmers' Folly', it was designed by Newcastle architect David Stephenson. The shallow-fluted column has a foliate cap that supports a drum, atop of which stands the famous Percy lion, with his horizontal tail that, according to local folklore, points towards Scotland - though no one can decisively say why!

A circular granite platform surrounds the column's base, with a stair entrance leading the visitor up to four lions looking out over Alnwick. Poignantly, when the column was built, a sealed glass tube containing a roll of Percy Tenantry Volunteers was buried under the foundations. As a final mark of respect to the duke as military commander, the 5th Regiment of Foot renamed themselves the Northumberland Fusiliers.

Today you can learn more about the Percy family's long history by visiting Alnwick Castle and then wander through town to the Percy Tenantry Column by the railway station.


‘Dolly Peel’ River Drive, South Shields 1987

Statue of local nineteenth century folk heroine Dolly Peel in voluminous skirts, by B. Gofton, she was notorious for helping men evade the Press Gangs. Other than classical and allegorical figures and Queen Victoria this is the only statue of a woman in the County. Dorothy Peel was born in South Shields in 1782 and was known as a smuggler of brandy, tobacco, perfume, lace, etc. She is reputed to have been one of the first 'nurses' to work in the Cockpit of naval vessels. She died in 1857. The inscription on the monument notes that "stories and legends about her persist to this day.

'Man With Donkey' Ocean Road South Shields

The piece above on the right, commemorates John Simpson Kirkpatrick, born in South Shields in 1892 who, as a member of the Australian Army Medical Corps, with his donkey, carried many dead and wounded from the carnage of the Gallipoli campaign back to allied trenches and field hospitals in the First World War. He died at Gallipoli on 9th May 1915. The sculpture is the work of Robert Olley, who is also responsible for the Merchant Seaman at Mill Dam.


‘Winged Victory’ 1907 Haymarket Newcastle

South African War memorials are far less numerous than those erected after the First World War and are usually found in garrison towns or cities, There are only a handful in Tyne & Wear, including fine examples in Hebburn and Gateshead but probably the most impressive, if only by reason of its size, is the Northumberland war memorial at the east end of the Haymarket in Newcastle.

This monument, built of sandstone ashlar with attached bronze sculpture, takes the form of a tall, tapered octagonal column supporting a heroic-sized winged Victory whose left hand holds the hilt of a sword at rest and the right hand str'etches out a laurel crown. Wide steps lead up to a base embellished with bronze shield-shaped plaques and a pictorial relief, all linked by laurel garlands, while a second female figure representing Northumbria and bearing an unfurled flag clasps the front of the memorial.

The monument is dedicated to the memory of the 373 men who were killed whilst serving in the Northumbrian regiments and was erected by their County and comrades. It was handed over to Newcastle's Lord Mayor at the unveiling ceremony in 1908. The designer and sculptor was local artist Thomas Eyre Macklin. The figure of Victory was removed from the monument in 1975 before the Metro tunnels were driven and reinstated three years later with an entirely new cast bronze body and glass fibre wings.

‘Winged Victory’ 1905 Saltwell Park Gateshead

Given the relatively small number of men killed in the conflict it is surprising to discover that this memorial, pictured above on the right, is dedicated to no less than 76 men from the Gateshead area who failed to return from the South African campaign.

Another interesting aspect of this very fine monument is the large number of regiments and other service units recorded here compared with the small number which make up the British Army today. The names of such well known regiments as the Gordon Highlanders, the Durham Light Infantry and the Coldstream Guards are accompanied by the less familiar ones of General Brabant's Light Horse and Kitchener's Fighting Scouts, all of which shows how widely dispersed the Gateshead soldiers were throughout the army at that time. Incidentally the South African War was the first in which militia and other volunteers were used to supplement regular soldiers overseas.

The salient features of this attractively situated monument are its square, tapered granite plinth and a column with inscriptions on all four faces, which rises to a corniced capital built up of draped cartouches. Above the capital on a scrolled step stands the bronze figure of a winged Victory holding aloft in both hands a laurel crown. The memorial was erected by the "fellow townsmen" of the dead and unveiled in October 1905. The bronze pedestal of the statue is inscribed with the name of F W Doyle-Jones, a London sculptor.


WW1 Memorial ‘The Response’ Barrass Bridge 1923

War memorials are the most numerous of all public monuments and the greatest period of memorial construction took place in the wake of the First World War. Up and down the country, committees were set up to organise the erection of memorials. Small parish councils might opt for a local monumental mason while the administrators of towns and cities would commission an architect or sculptor, or a combination of both, according to what and who could be afforded. There were only a limited number of memorial artists of significant rank available to undertake the enormous amount of work required. These tended to be well known figures of the older generation, many of the younger sculptors having been killed on active service.

One such memorial artist was Sir William Goscombe John R.A., an example of whose work can be seen to the north of St. Thomas' Church in Barras Bridge, Newcastle. Described by Alan Borg, a former Director General of the Imperial War Museum as "one of the finest sculptural ensembles on any British monument", Goscombe John designed 'The Response 1914' as a narrative sculpture depicting soldiers marching off to war watched over by an angel while women and children bid them farewell.

The bronze figures are set above a rusticated plinth and steps against a long granite wall on the rear of which is an inscription commemorating the raising of the Northumberland Fusilier battalions by the Newcastle and Gateshead Chambers of Commerce. The memorial was commissioned and paid for by Sir George and Lady Renwick on a site provided by the Corporation. It was erected in 1923. According to the research carried out by the Association of Northumberland Local History Societies as part of its 1988/91 Survey of War Memorials, the monument was raised to commemorate three events: the raising of the Commercial Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers; the return of the five Renwick sons from the war; and Sir George Renwick's attainment of 50 years of commercial life on Newcastle Quayside.

WW1 Memorial Durham Road/Prince Consort Road Gateshead 1921

One of the most ambitious memorial ensembles in the region, this monument, pictured above on the right, combines a tall, free standing cenotaph set in paving and backed by a curved and inscribed stone wall which forms the boundary of a small park behind. In appearance this cenotaph has nothing in common with the Whitehall Cenotaph designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Based on Greek or Roman precedents, this sandstone ashlar structure comprises a rusticated ground floor chamber forming a plinth to the pedimented main part of the monument on the south east face of which a heroic-sized bronze relief of a Homeric warrior is framed by columns of an Ionic Order. The chamber originally housed the Roll of Honour of those Gateshead men who were killed in the Great War but it was subsequently transferred to the nearby public library for safe-keeping.

Architect J.W. Spink of Kingston-on-Thames was responsible for the overall design of the memorial while the superb bronze relief is the work of sculptor Richard Goulden with whose statue of St. Michael, outside the church of that name in London's Cornhill, it shares a number of similarities.


Man On A Horse

If you live in or near Durham you will probably recognise this statue. The man on the horse is the Marquis of Londonderry, whose full name was Charles William Vane Tempest Stewart. He was born in 1778. Londonderry was a soldier and he fought in many famous battles, so the statue shows him on a horse and wearing a military uniform. He also owned many of the coal mines in County Durham and spent lots of money to make them run better. He commissioned the building of Seaham Harbour so that the coal could be taken away and sold more cheaply and easily. He died in 1854.

The photograph on the left was taken soon after the statue was put up. If you look closely at the photograph on the left, you can see that there are no inscriptions on the base. They hadn't had time!

The Man on the Horse – has been perched overlooking Durham Market Place since it was unveiled in 1861, apart from a brief spell when it was taken off its plinth for a clean-up in 1951. In 2011 it was given an overhaul at a cost of £90,000, the work took six months to complete. Rupert Harris, accredited Conservator-Restorer, consultant to English Heritage and an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, was employed to return the statue to its former glory, photograph above on the right.

The sculptor of Londonderry's statue was Signor Raphael Monti (1818-1881) who did not, as is often thought commit suicide following the discovery of a flaw in his creation by a blind beggar man. Legend has it that Monti boasted that no one could find fault with his statue until one day a blind man pointed out that the horse had no tongue by feeling inside its mouth. The legend - is a legend.


Tynemouth War Memorial, pictured on the left.

Over the next four years there will be an enormous public focus on the centenary period of the First World War, 4th August, 2014 until 11th November, 2018 (the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice with Germany). The nation will be reminded over these four years, by a series of important anniversary dates of key events, of the sacrifice of the nation, which brought personal loss to almost every family in the land.

The former Borough of Tynemouth marked that loss with a Roll of Honour published in 1923 containing very brief details of some 1,700 local residents known to have lost their lives due to causes associated with the war and their service. The project has over the past four years (2010 to 2014) been preparing detailed biographies of those men, with the aim of reminding the population today of that loss and also to explore the social and economic consequences for the town and its inhabitants. A current database of more than 1850 personal biographies can now be viewed.

A memorial garden has been developed in an enclosed courtyard at Linskill Community Centre. The restored garden was opened on 3rd August 2014; plaques showing casualty names, street by street will be installed on the 25th October 2015 (subject to final confirmation).

Whitley Bay War Memorial, pictured above on the right.

This memorial commemorates the residents of Whitley Bay who were killed or missing in World War I (258 names) and World War II (255 names).

Many of these memorials were erected after the First World War. After the Second World War, the names of those who died in that war were also added to the memorial.


The Bede Memorial Cross Situated On Roker Seafront, Sunderland

A large grey stone Northumbrian cross on a grey stone base, surrounded by a low wooden fence. The amount and detailing of carving on all surfaces is particularly notable. The west face is carved with the main inscription. The south face is carved to a depth of 3 cm with a relief of birds and animals intertwined within foliage. The east face is carved with scenes from the life of Bede, with their titles under each: Baeda comes to Jarrow; Benedict and Siggfrith; The Codex Amiatinus; Baeda Writing the History; Baeda's Last Moments. Between each scene are further intricately carved patterns based on the porch in the tower of St. Peter's Church. The north face has relief carvings of eleven bishops: Trumbergt; Benedict Biscop; Eggfrith; John; Fosterwinn; Siggfrith; Geolfrith; Agga; Hvaegbergt; Geowulf; Eggbert. A foliate pattern links each head. The cross is carved with a rope tracery design on the arms and boss.

Despite his status in the English church, there was no memorial to Bede in the north east until the installation of this Northumbrian cross. A memorial movement was inaugurated by the Dean of Durham Cathedral in 1903 and a committee under the Mayor of Sunderland easily raised the requisite £300. The cross was unveiled by the Archbishop of York and the close attention to detail in the carving was much admired. The scroll ornamentation is taken from the Lindisfarne Gospels; the birds and animals 'springing from a harp emblematic of his poetic gifts' illustrate his love of nature. The main inscription on the west face are extracts from Bede's Ecclesiastical History and from his Life of St. Cuthbert. The verse repeated in Latin, Runic, Miniscule and English scripts was written on his deathbed. Although one of the inscriptions records that the Cross was removed for safe keeping during the Great War, there is no record of similar precautions being taken for the Second World War, though Sunderland was repeatedly targeted by the German air force.

The Venerable Bede (672-735) was born on monastery land at Wearmouth and joined the monastery at Jarrow in 681, where he was one of only two monks to survive a plague. Christianity had only been fully accepted in Northumbria in 627 and Bede's life coincided with a flourishing period of Northumbrian culture. Cured of his stammer by St. Cuthbert in 687 he became a priest in 703 and published The History of the English Church and People in 731. He was revered in his lifetime as a holy man, and after his death his remains were transported to Durham Cathedral to save them from molestation by Viking raiders.


Fulwell Acoustic Mirror

A rare surviving coastal device built to detect incoming German Zeppelin airships in the First World War has been restored in a £68,000 project. The raids on the North East began 100 years ago and several of the concrete acoustic mirrors were built. The region suffered at least 20 Zeppelin bombing attacks. The four-metres high concave dishes worked by capturing the sound of the airship’s engines. A microphone at the focal point of the mirror relayed the sounds to an operator’s headphones, giving around 15 minutes warning of a raid. Other mirrors at Seaham and Hartlepool were demolished but the mirror at Fulwell in Sunderland is one of only six in the country to remain. It is also one of only 10 scheduled ancient monuments in Sunderland. In a raid in April 1916, 22 people in the Wheatsheaf area of Sunderland were killed and more than 100 injured by Zeppelin bombs.

After being disregarded for many years, the deteriorating Sunderland mirror was placed on English Heritage’s At Risk register as its historic importance was realised. This triggered a partnership between Sunderland City Council, Historic England and Limestone Landscape which led to its restoration. In 2013 the council secured funding from Historic England and this, together with money allocated to Limestone Landscape Partnership from the Heritage Lottery Fund, allowed work to go ahead to save the structure and enabled it to be taken off the register.

John Kelly, council’s portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture, said: “Fulwell Acoustic Mirror is a very rare, long lost reminder of the home front in the North East during the First World War. “The restoration has given the acoustic mirror a new lease of life by preserving it for future generations almost a hundred years after it was build to defend our shores. “This along with new interpretative material will make it more accessible to residents, groups, schools and visitors as a unique heritage tourist attraction and educational resource. “There are only a handful of these mirrors remaining, so it’s an incredibly important part of our military history and it’s especially fitting that this work has been completed at a time when we are commemorating the centenary of the First World War.” Kate Wilson, Historic England’s principal adviser for heritage at risk for the North East, added: “The Acoustic Mirror at Fulwell was part of a chain of important early acoustic detection devices along the coast of Britain. “It is a rare survivor of our 20th Century defences and a witness to the conflict of First World War.”

The project saw Sunderland Neighbourhood Youth Project under the supervision of Groundwork North East and the council’s area response team clearing undergrowth at the site. Beaumont Brown Architects led the design work and supervised the repair and landscaping work, while the Archaeological Practice Limited carried out an assessment of the site alongside a number of other contractors who were involved in the restoration. The project used specially developed techniques, including the use of diluted sheep droppings to tone in the repair work. Its setting has been enhanced by a landscaping scheme of bound gravel pathways, grassed picnic areas and a wildflower meadow including poppies. A specially designed interpretation panel with original artwork provides an educational resource at the site. The mirror is 300 metres north-west of Fulwell Windmill, with access via a track off the A1018 Newcastle Road, behind the VW garage next to Fulwell Mill.

Fulwell Windmill

Started to appear on the Sunderland skyline in 1806 and became the familiar landmark we know today when opened in 1808. Built for Joseph Swan out of magnesian limestone from the adjacent quarry, it retained its links with the Swan family for many years. 1839 saw the only recorded fatality at the mill when a journeyman miller, William Wren, was thrown from the sails during a violent storm. Regional archives show a succession of millers renting, or leasing, the mill until 1879 when the Moody family took over, operating the mill until 1949. With the advent of alternative, more reliable forms of power, windmills had to change or become obsolete. The major change that took place at Fulwell during this time was the removal of the sails and installation of a gas engine at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The mill was therefore able to carry on producing animal feed for the next half century, even though the cap that had carried the sails, and some parts of the structure of the mill, deteriorated. After the last miller in the Moody family retired in 1949 a neighbour, Jim Simpson, from Ivy House carried on some work until 1956, on a part time basis. Restoration After closure the fabric of the mill continued to deteriorate. In response to public concern Sunderland Corporation authorised the repair of the cap and the fitting of four dummy sails in 1955. During the 1970s the Tyne & Wear Industrial Monuments Trust became involved with some further restoration work. In 1996 the Sunderland City Council started the process which five years later would see the windmill restored to its nineteenth century working condition. The City Council, with financial aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, has presented the North East with its only working windmill, preserving crafts and traditions that span over seven hundred years of English history. All images were supplied from the Local Studies Centre collection, Sunderland Public Library Service

Inside, the mill in design is typical of five floor English tower mills, but is unique in having the outside gallery built as part of the main structure, topping the first two floors. The ground floor, the largest in the mill, is where the different grains would have been delivered from farms in the locality and corn merchants for processing. It is also where the finished products of flours and animal feed would have arrived, been bagged, weighed and dispatched. On the first floor, known as the Miller’s floor, several important machines were run including a grain cleaner, barley dresser and bolter for sifting the flour into its different grades. Within the thick wall of the tower base were housed the workshop and miller’s office. The second floor is the main control centre for the mill. Here the main drive shaft terminates in the great spur wheel that drives all the machinery in the building, including the auxiliary drive shafts taking power down to the floor below and up to the millstones. Doors lead to the outside gallery, also known as the reefing stage, giving access to the sails and striking mechanism. The third floor, known as the stone floor, houses the millstones. At present there is only one operational pair of stones, covered by the wooden vat or tun. The fourth floor is called the bin floor and is where the sack hoist brings up the grain that is emptied into bins, where gravity takes over returning the grain to the millstones below. The fifth floor has been restored using Perspex so that the visitor can see all the great wood and iron mechanism that turns wind power into a force to drive the machinery throughout the mill.


The Branxton Cross & The Battle of Flodden

The village of Branxton lies around 9 miles north-west of Wooler, and 3 miles from the Scottish border. In the 2001 census, its population was counted at 121, half the number it had been in the mid-19th century. It has become best-known for its adjacency to the site of the Battle of Flodden, which in early literature was sometimes called the Battle of Branxton.

Little is known about the early history of settlements in the area, but the mediaeval village of Branxton was established by the 12th century and its parish church retains an arch from that period. The main recorded events before the 16th century relate to cross-border raids from Scotland. The manor of Branxton belonged to the Selby family who subsequently settled at Twizel.

The Church of St Paul was originally constructed during the mediaeval period and could possibly stand on the site of an older timber construction. The earliest surviving part of the church is the Chancel Arch which dates from the 12th century. The church that one sees today was extensively rebuilt in 1849. Tradition says that after the Battle of Flodden it was used as a temporary mortuary and a burial place for a number of the casualties.

The Battle of Flodden took place in the late afternoon of 9th September 1513. It arose from the shifting alliances and hostilities between the Papacy, Louis XII of France, and Henry VIII of England, which prompted the Scottish King James IV to initiate an invasion of English territory in order to draw away part of the English forces from the campaign in France. After capturing the castles of Norham, Ford and Etal, the Scottish army had taken up a position first on Flodden Ridge and then on Branxton Hill. An English force, led by the Earl of Surrey, moved into positions to their north and east. By nightfall the Scots had been decisively defeated.

Estimates of the size of the armies: English: 20000 – 26000 Scots: 30000 – 40000

Estimates of the number of casualties: English: 1500 – 5000 Scots: 5000 – 20000

Many sources opt for a figure of around 10000 Scottish dead. These included King James IV, an archbishop and two bishops, and many other earls, lords and clan chiefs – the “flower of Scotland”

Lord Dacre discovered the body of James IV on the battlefield. He later wrote that the Scots "love me worst of any Inglisheman living, by reason that I fande the body of the King of Scotts." The chronicle writer John Stow gave a location for the King's death; "Pipard's Hill," now unknown, which may have been the small hill on Branxton Ridge overlooking Branxton church.

Dacre took the body to Berwick-upon-Tweed, where according to Hall's Chronicle, it was viewed by the captured Scottish courtiers William Scott and John Forman who acknowledged it was the King's. (Forman, the King's sergeant-porter, had been captured by Richard Assheton of Middleton.) The body was then embalmed and taken to Newcastle upon Tyne. From York, a city that James had promised to capture before Michaelmas, the body was brought to Sheen Priory near London. A payment of £12-9s-10d was made for the "sertying ledying and sawdryng of the ded course of the King of Scottes" and carrying it York and to Windsor. James's banner, sword and his cuisses, thigh-armour, were taken to the shrine of Saint Cuthbert at Durham Cathedral. Much of the armour of the Scottish casualties was sold on the field, and 350 suits of armour were taken to Nottingham Castle. A list of horses taken at the field runs to 24 pages.

On the site of the battlefield stands a memorial (pictured above), in the form of a granite cross, with raised roll-moulded edges, on a base of massive roughly-dressed stone. A bronze plaque is set into the base, inscribed: Battle of Flodden / 1513 / TO THE DEAD OF BOTH NATIONS / Erected 1910.