A ROADSIDE shrine has been erected in memory of "two cracking lads" who were killed when their car hit a tree and burst into flames.

The young men died when the car they were travelling left the road on a quiet country lane near Barnard Castle in the early hours of Saturday morning. (August 16)

The 21-year-old, from Barnard Castle, and his 27-year-old friend, from nearby Middleton-in-Teesdale, died at the scene.

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Both men are understood to have been former pupils of Teesdale School, in Barnard Castle.

Respecting their families’ wishes, The Northern Echo has decided to delay publication of their names.

But throughout Teesdale and at the scene of the accident on Westwick Road, between the hamlet of Westwick and Whorlton village, friends and relatives of both men paid tribute to them.

The blackened grass verge and tree, which bare evidence of a fire that engulfed the vehicle after the collision, is covered in flowers and cards.

Friends recalled sharing good times, countless messages said both were ‘gone but never forgotten’ and another described them as ‘two cracking lads’.

A Facebook page set in tribute to the pair had received more than 1,100 'likes' by Sunday evening.

Stacey Bainbridge said of one of the victims: "You were a big part of so many people's lives and are going to be a massive miss."

Hannah Greenacre said: "Two lads taken too soon, rest in peace xx."

Durham police have appealed for help to piece together the events leading up the collision.

Investigators believe the pair left Barnard Castle and travelled east towards Whorlton before the accident at around 3.17am, on Saturday.

It is believed that the car, a slate grey Audi A4 which appeared black to the naked eye, was the only vehicle involved.

Sergeant Andy Sutherland, of the road policing unit, based at Spennymoor, said: “Officers are working closely with the families following this tragedy and want to find out what happened.

“I am particularly interested in hearing from anybody who witnessed the accident itself, the vehicle being driven in the immediate run up or alternatively anyone who has got any knowledge of the movements of the occupants before the accident.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Durham police’s collision investigation unit on 0191-3752159 or call the non emergency number 101 and quote reference DHM/16082014/0079.