Newcastle commemorates centenary of Eldon Square's First World War memorial

25.09.23 Eldon Square War Memorial Credit: Newcastle Council
History will repeat in Newcastle on 26 September as the city commemorates the centenary of Eldon Square's First World War Memorial that was paid for by shilling contributions following a public appeal. Credit: Newcastle Council

People are invited to commemorate those who lost their lives in the First World War on the centenary of the unveiling of Newcastle's memorial at Eldon Square.

The memorial, which as unveiled on 26 September 1923, was paid for following a public appeal asking for shilling contributions.

Thousands of people attended the event to see it for the first time and pay their respects to those who were killed during the conflict.

Members of the public are again invited to attend a ceremony at the memorial to mark the centenary.

Newcastle’s Armed Forces champion, Councillor Charlie Gray, said: “In September 1923, not even five years had passed since the Armistice of November 1918 and the people of Newcastle were still grieving for those that hadn't returned from the Great War. But they were dedicated to ensuring that the sacrifice of their loved ones wouldn't be forgotten."

Archive photography shows the crowds alongside representatives of the Northumberland Fusiliers, the Northumberland Hussars, the Northumbrian Brigade RFA and the Navy taking up their positions at the four corners of the memorial's base.

Stood with their heads bowed and arms reversed they seemed almost part of the memorial itself.

The sitting Lord Mayor of Newcastle - Councillor Veronica Dunn - will follow the footsteps of her predecessor exactly 100 years later. Credit: Newcastle Council

The Lord Mayor of Newcastle at the time, Alderman William Bramble, welcomed Field Marshal Earl Haig and his wife Countess Haig before inviting the Earl to perform the unveiling ceremony.

The Band of Buglers of Northumberland Fusiliers played the Last Post and sounded the Reveille before the Lord Mayor accepted the memorial on behalf of the citizens of Newcastle.

The Lady Mayoress laid a wreath of red and cream roses that bore the inscription “In token of affectionate remembrance from the citizens of Newcastle upon Tyne” followed by representatives of military units.

Finally, relatives of those who had lost their lives came forward to pay their own tributes. Some were expensive displays - others were a handful of roses.

Exactly a century later, the current-serving Lord Mayor of Newcastle - Councillor Veronica Dunn - will be joined by representatives of the armed forces and veterans on the exact same spot as their predecessors to remember all those who lost their lives in First World War.

She said: “Many of those who lost their lives in World War One have no grave of their own. Their families had nowhere to go to pay their respects, to lay flowers or to spend time thinking about their loved ones.  

“The people of Newcastle, many who had lost someone themselves, paid for the war memorial so we could all have a place to remember and reflect. Their generosity has provided an enduring symbol of sacrifice and remembrance that will be at the heart of our city for generations to come.”

Councillor Gray added: "By gathering to mark the centenary of the war memorial we will be remembering the lives that were lost and changed forever during the First World War, and in conflicts since. Whilst reflecting on the dedication of the citizens of our city to ensuring that those who died in the service of our country haven't been forgotten and honouring those who serve the country today."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...