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Birtley, Durham Road, cenotaph and garden




Commemorative Monument





Some of Tyne and Wear's smallest and simplest gardens are also amongst its most charming. Small gardens around war memorials are an especially poignant group. The war memorial is flanked by two pavilions and the whole is laid out in a formal arrangement {1}. Erected 1923. By Messrs Davidson & Son of Gosforth. Birtley war memorial was unveiled by Lieut-Colonel Philip Kirkup on 9th anniversary of the declaration of the First World War. A draw for War Savings Certificates raised £1,900 for the building of the Cenotaph and shelters. It was built of Heworth stone and the names of the 189 fallen were inscribed on bronze tablets on three sides. The memorial was re-dedicated in 1950 when the names of those who had died in the Second World War were added. The names of those who died in Korea 1951-53 and the Gulf 1991 have subsequently been added. DESCRIPTION This long, shallow garden has at its centre a sandstone cenotaph memorial with bronze plaques to each face. The front face has a commemorative inscription with names engraved to the other faces. Each side has a carved cross with a wreath and festoon. The surrounding garden has low brick walls with stone copings with concavely curved sections to accommodate the rising ground. To the front these are topped with very simple railings. The substantial brick gate piers to the entrance have stone plinths above the base and decorative capstones with cornice detail. They have been largely renewed. The steps leading to the cenotaph have a section of wall to each side. The 2 shelters which flank the memorial have low brick plinths with extensive glazing consisting of very small, narrow panes above and semi-glazed central timber doors (pale blue). The corners have timber posts, and the clay tiled roof has decorative ridge tiles with plumes to the termini. Large curved timber brackets support the eaves. MATERIALS Heworth burnstone, bronze ARCHITECT Davidson & Son; Bolam, Simpson & Bolam (builders); H Walker & Sons (manufacturer) DATES 04/08/1923 (unveiled) 12/11/1950 (additions unveiled) STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE This land was previously a portion of Constable’s Garth, and was a gift of the Birtley Freeholders and Mr A R Fleet for the erection of a memorial to the war dead. The last name to be added was that of John Thompson who was cleared of desertion after a 17 year campaign by his sister. The money was raised through a prize draw and private donations. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION A meeting was held on 28/01/1919 to discuss the erection of a memorial. It was decided to erect a cenotaph and 2 public shelters. LOCAL LIST




Fiona Green, 1995, A Guide to the Historic Parks and Gardens of Tyne and Wear, p 31; Gateshead Council Local List X20/LLG/05; George Nairn and Dorothy Rand, 1997, Images of England: Birtley, pp 108-109; North East War Memorials Project Ref. B127.01 (; programme of unveiling ceremony held by Gateshead Library; Birtley: Gleanings from the History of Birtley Harry Letch (1970);

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