SEVEN projects that will see the centenary of of the First World War commemorated in different ways across the North-East have been awarded more than £100,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The schemes range from research into the role of Africans fighting for Britain, to a project to restore a war memorial in a County Durham village, to an examination of the plight of the families left behind.

Ivor Crowther, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the North-East, said: “The First World touched every part of the UK and beyond and this fascinating collection of stories shows the sheer scope of the North-East’s involvement, where even the home front was not immune from direct attack.

"Our funding, £784,200 on 60 projects in the North-East to date, is enabling even more communities like those in today’s announcement to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”


Heroism and Heartbreak: True Tales from the Hartlepools at War

THE often overlooked but vital war at sea will be especially remembered in Hartlepool.

The bombardment of the town, when 119 people were killed, is often commemorated, but the effort to maintain transport, food supplies and crucial ship building will also be recalled.

Gary Green, project manager at the Heroism and Heartbreak: True Tales from the Hartlepools at War Project, said it was an effort which often involved civilians putting their lives on the line.

He said: “What do you think of when you think of the First World War? It’s often trenches and soldiers but the war at sea was crucial. A staggering amount of products needed for the country to survive were imported, it was vital.”

Mr Green explained that at the outbreak of the war Hartlepool was still a major ship-building centre and 400 vessels either built or owned in the town were sunk in the war.

He said that interesting stories were beginning into emerge, including the situation where one ship was built in the town for a German company, confiscated by the British Admiralty and then sunk by a German Zeppelin.

The project, support by the Nautical Archaeological Society North-East, Hartlepool Council and other groups, will include exhibitions, roadshows, interactive websites and films showing photographs of recorded memories and story-telling from members of the public. As part of the project, divers will gather information from the sunken wrecks of some of the vessels that were lost during the conflict.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £54,500 to the project. Find out more at


Forever Young

THE young people of today will find out about the ultimate sacrifices made by their counterparts from the same town a hundred years ago.

Sacrifices like that of John Thomas Matthews, a 31-year-old Stockton soldier who died of his injuries and is buried in an unmarked grave in his home town.

His story is being researched by editor of The Northern Echo, Peter Barron, as part of Stockton’s Sunflower project, which encourages individuals to find out about the lives of 1,245 soldiers from the town who died in the Great War and grow a sunflower in their memory.

The idea has been taken on to the next stage with the Forever Young project, which will see 50 young people, aged between 16 and 19, from across the borough of Stockton, pay their own tribute.

The teenagers will create and curate a Garden of Memories at Stockton Parish Church, install a lit trail of 1,245 poppies, and work on a photographic projection which will be displayed in tribute to the war dead.

And, just like the wider Sunflower project, each teenager will research the life of their own adopted soldier.

“More than 120 youths, ten per cent of the total, who died in the First World War, were aged between 16 and 19,” said Mike McGrother, a creative partner in the project. “They are the direct counterparts of the young people working today.”

The teenagers will also be trained in events work and will be involved in promoting events including a 1,245-minute night vigil culminating in a tribute of music, words, light and candles, and working in two of the borough’s cemeteries.

The Forever Young Project has been granted £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Part of IT – Our Story

THE little told story of Africans who fought for Britain in the First World War will be the focus of a special Stockton project.

Young black and minority ethnic volunteers from the town will find out the stories of the African men who fought, worked and sometimes died for the ‘mother country'.

The organising body will be the Stockton-based Cultures Community Interest Company and research will be carried out at the Preston Hall Museum in Eaglescliffe, Stockton as well as the National Archives and Imperial War Museum in London.

The young people, who will be recruited from across Teesside, will create an exhibition to be displayed at venues across the region as well as information packs and a DVD to be shown in schools.

More than two million people in Africa were involved in the war on all sides. Ten thousand men died in East Africa and 65,000 men from French North Africa and French West Africa lost their lives.

Not since the American War of Independence, when 14,000 slaves and freemen fought as black loyalists alongside the British, had such a huge number of people of African descent been involved in fighting for Europeans.

However most were not used as soldiers. Instead, many were recruited to carry heavy weapons and supplies. They were badly paid and given food which was either of poor quality or entirely foreign to them. While travelling through new territories for them, they often fell sick and were affected by different types of malaria.

This project is just beginning but a website and more information will be issued in the coming weeks. The scheme has been granted £10,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Remembering the WW1 soldiers from Middleton-in-Teesdale

RESIDENTS want to create an exhibition that will bring together the memories and artefacts held by local people to uncover the stories of men from the village who died in the conflict.

The fund will also go towards restoring a stone memorial in the centre of Middleton-in-Teesdale, erected in 1921.

Some residents of the village have lived in the area for generations and many of those named on the war memorial still have descendants living locally.

Middleton-in-Teesdale and Newbiggin Parish Council will receive more than £9,000 of the lottery investment.

Councillor John Cronin, of Newbiggin Parish Council, said: “School children will be involved in various projects to help with the exhibition, they have already been dressing up in special uniforms and making drawings.

“The memorial will be sand blasted, all of the lettering will be rewritten and the surrounding area tidied. It will look as good as new when it’s finished.

“We could never have done this without the grant from the lottery fund and I am so pleased that we have got it.”

Work to restore the memorial is due to begin next month.


WW1 Research and Performance for Young People

YOUNG people will be exploring life on the home front in Redcar and Cleveland during the First World War with a particular emphasis on fashion, food, music and dance.

The project, which will be run by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council at Tuned In! , will see them making research visits to a local cemetery and the Heugh Battery Museum in Hartlepool.

The information gathered will be presented in the form of a performance, at the Redcar multi-media centre, through examples of vintage fashion, music, dance and food.

Olwyn Peters, the council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and tourism, said: “This is one of many projects taking place in the borough to commemorate the outbreak of a war that touched so many people in our community and further afield.

“This project places a particular emphasis on the cultural aspects of that time, like fashion food and music, and how they were affected by the Great War.

“It is hoped that by using these familiar reference points the young people will develop a greater understanding of what life was like on the home front.”

The project has received £7,000.


East Durham Remembers

VOLUNTEER researchers will investigate the story of an east Durham soldier who fought on the Western Front.

They will follow the life of Captain Bertie Cecil Batey of the Durham Light Infantry from his signing up to his death on the battlefield at Ypres in Flanders.

Students at Easington Academy will visit his former home and the DLI museum, as well as Ypres to discover details of what life was like for the troops in the field.

They will also research the experiences of those living along the North-East coast, which came under direct enemy attack during the war.

The project will study the effects on those left behind, especially children who fathers went off to war.

The project’s findings will be shared with the schools whose students have taken part.

East Durham Remembers has won a grant of £5,000.


Tyneside Scottish Centenary

A GRANT of £8,000 will fund a project to place the spotlight on the sacrifices of a Pals battalion from the North-East.

The Tyneside Scottish was a First World War Pals battalion and is the only surviving Pals unit serving in the British Army, having most recently fought in Afghanistan.

The project will involve veterans from the modern Tyneside Scottish working with local schools, churches and residents to commemorate the soldiers who signed up at the start of the First World War and went on to suffer heavy casualties at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Activities organised as part of the project, which is organised by the Tyneside Scottish Association Branch Royal Artillery Association, include using a military training area where young people from the Army Cadet Force can experience staying overnight in a trench. Information gathered will be used to create a DVD, website and exhibition display material.