What is the Project about?
How did it all start?
In 1988, a letter appeared in the Times newspaper from the head of the Imperial War Museum suggesting that a list of war memorials be drawn up, as so many had been moved, or were in need of repair. This was taken up by the Association of the Northumberland Local History Societies as a good project for their membership. The Association had local history societies as members, as well as individuals.
The project was launched almost immediately, and the results started to come in. Janet Brown was secretary of the ANLHS at that time, and became coordinator of the project. Six months after they started, Janet received a telephone call from the Imperial War Museum. They had heard that the project had started and wanted to know if they could pick ANLHS brains.
After five years, the ANLHS decided to call a halt, and handed over what had been done to the Northumberland Record Office, with copies sent to the National Inventory of War Memorials at the Imperial War Museum. The National Inventory has since changed its name to War Memorials Archives. The ANLHS has also ceased to exist. Having spent 50 years working on its aim to establish local history societies in the county, the society was formally closed in November 2016.
But in 1993, Janet continued with the project on a private basis, because it was far from finished. Then she received a telephone call from the Imperial War Museum saying that they were proposing setting up a similar project in County Durham would she be prepared to help if they managed to get a group together? The group was set up, and produced a similar corpus of work.
Eventually, the two projects were combined and the united group called itself the North East War Memorials Project. A grant was received from the Heritage Lottery Fund which enabled the website to be established. This was agreed with the IWM who said that we had more chance of obtaining funds on a regional basis than they had nationally.
At one stage, the person in charge of the National Inventory suggested that it would be sensible if NEWMP were to be considered to be the north-east part of the national survey, as we were so far ahead. This was an unofficial agreement. Since then, there have been at least two changes of personel at the IWM, politics have changed and we are no longer considered to be part of the War Memorials Archive. We are pressing on in our own right.
All members of the group are entirely voluntary. Funds are raised by sale of files and by donations or grant aid.
The aims of the project
The North-East War Memorials Project was established to record every War Memorial located in the historic counties of Northumberland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Durham with the addition of any areas included by the 1974 boundary changes.
The aims of the Project which is a registered Charity are to:
Educate the public;
Assist historical research for the public benefit;
Foster patriotism and good citizenship by publishing and maintaining an inventory and catalogue of War Memorials in the North East of England.
These aims will be achieved by continually recording, documenting and researching these memorials and by these means extending the existing archive.
This has now been extended to record both Commonwealth War Graves and family headstones, and to uncover the stories behind those named, and including the stories of those who had to cope at home. This will be done either by hyperlinking with others who are doing such work in their locality, or by housing other people's work on the NEWMP website under the donor's name on the "Every Name A Story" page for each place.
All members of the public are invited to submit any relevant material, and their input will be acknowledged. All is done on a voluntary basis.
There is also co-operation with the War Memorials Trust which was set up to advise people on the upkeep and restoration of memorials and to provide grant aid.
We are also working closely with Heritage England which is seeking to list all free-standing war memorials as Grade II in their own right.
The whole purpose is to create a massive tribute to all who have suffered through war, either because they fought, or were left to pick up the pieces.