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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Durham County Council War Memorial

Information about the original war memorial in Shire Hall, and the present memorial in County Hall, Durham city. See a database of names listed on the memorial and biographies of some of the men who died in the First World War.

County Hall War Memorial

The County Hall War Memorial lists the names of 179 County Council employees who died during the First and Second World Wars:

  • 122 men died in 1914-18
  • 57 men died in 1939-45

Durham County Council war memorial, County Hall - Copyright © Durham County Record Office.
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Many of the men listed on the memorial were teachers. In World War One the 1,134 employees who joined up for war service included 823 teachers and 311 employees from Health, Surveyor's, Clerk's, Accountant's and other County Council departments.

On this page you can find:

  • a history of the war memorial
  • research into the men listed on the memorial and a database of names
  • links to biographies of some of the men who died in 1914-18
  • a list of the research sources used 

History of the war memorial

The Shire Hall memorial

The idea of a war memorial commemorating the County Council staff who had died in the Great War appears to have come from the Durham County Local Government Officers' Association.

Durham County Council war memorial 1914-18, Shire Hall (CC/X 110c) - Copyright © Durham County Record Office.
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In October 1919 the Association asked the Finance Committee to consider the provision of a memorial, and the matter was referred to a sub-committee. The sub-committee took a year to consider the question and in October 1920 agreed that a brass tablet should be placed in Shire Hall (the County Council's headquarters in Old Elvet) recording those who had died and that a memorial book should be produced, listing the names of all the members of the Council's staff who had served in the war.

In February 1921 the Finance Committee considered the tenders for the tablet and accepted that submitted by Messrs. Hart, Son, Peard and Co. of London, for £230. By July the County Surveyor reported that the tablets had been fixed in the ante-chamber to the Council Chamber, and asked for the Finance Committee's instructions as to the unveiling, which took place on 27 July 1921.

At the ceremony the Chairman of the County Council explained that 1,134 members of staff had joined-up and 126 had died. Peter Lee delivered 'an impressive oration', in which he said that the men who fought were not the cause of the war. They had simply answered their country's call and 'like millions more fought for what they believed was a worthy object, viz. their home land'. He described as a 'terrible percentage' the fact that one in eleven of those who joined-up had died.

In October 1922 the Clerk reported that he had arranged for photographs of the memorial to be sent to the relatives of each man named. Durham County Record Office holds 40 letters of thanks from the relatives, but unfortunately there is no surviving record of the book which listed all those who had served during the war. Although the newspaper reports of the unveiling refer to 126 names, photographs of the memorial only show 122, and the present memorial only has 122 Great War names.

The present memorial in County Hall

In April 1947, the Finance Committee was again asked to decide on a memorial. The Clerk reported that he had identified 58 members of staff who had died during the 1939-1945 war, and the County Architect was instructed to report on extending the existing memorial.

County Hall war memorial - click to enlarge - Copyright © Durham County Record Office.
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In October the Architect recommended that a new memorial should be constructed in polished wood with white enamel letters, and in April 1948 he reported that the tender of the North of England School Furnishing Co., of Darlington, for £197 1s.9d., had been accepted.

It would appear that the Architect's idea of a polished wood memorial with enamel letters was replaced by the memorial which can be seen today. The new memorial was unveiled by the Chairman on 10 November 1948, and the newspaper reports of the unveiling refer to the 179 names, 57 of whom died in the Second World War.

When the County Council left Shire Hall and moved to County Hall in 1963, the memorial was moved to its present location outside the Council chamber.

War memorial research and database of names

As part of the forth-coming commemorations of the centenary of the beginning of the First World War the Record Office is undertaking some research into the men listed on the memorial. See databases of all names

County Hall War Memorial Names - World War One (PDF, 182kb)

County Hall War Memorial Names - World War Two (PDF, 95kb)

We will add more information (service number, rank, regiment/ship, battalion/unit, date of death, age at death, place of burial/location of memorial, immediate family relations, and occupation) as it is discovered.

Where a separate biography exists the surname on the database is in capitals.

Biographies of the men who died in 1914-18

As a first step, to mark Remembrance Day 2012, the Record Office researched four of the men who died during the First World War. It is hoped to add similar information for one man each month to August 2014.

John Barclay (1889-1918) teacher at West Auckland Church of England School. Died of Spanish inflenza on his return from war service. Biography added May 2013.

William Lionel Gerald Brown (1900-1918) the youngest man on the war memorial. Previously a pupil-teacher at Spennymoor. Killed in action in September 1918, after only 29 days in France. Biography added August 2013.

James Edward Cook (1891-1915) teacher at Thornley Council School. Killed in action at the Second Battle of Ypres. Biography added February 2013.

Percy Cook (1895-1916) teacher at Thornley Council School and brother of James Edward Cook. Killed in action, Battle of the Somme. Biography added March 2013.

Richard Robson Corker (1892-1916) teacher at Waterhouses School. Died of wounds, Battle of the Somme. Biography added January 2013.

Arthur Henry Corner (1893-1916) teacher at Tudhoe Colliery. Died of wounds, Battle of the Somme. Biography added November 2012.

John Warwick Huggins (1886-1915) teacher at Wheatley Hill. Killed at the Second Battle of Ypres. Biography added November 2012.

Thomas Minks (1889-1914) teacher at Highfield Council School. Died of wounds following the bombardment of Hartlepool. Biography added December 2012.

William Robert Moody (1892-1917) clerk at Durham County Council. Killed by a shell near Arras. Biography added April 2013.

Frederick Seed (1893-1918) teacher at South Moor. Killed in the last naval attack on the Dover Patrol. Biography added November 2012.

Joseph Pyke Wake (1876-1917) head teacher at Bowburn. Died of wounds from an artillery shell. Biography added November 2012.

Charles Henry Yeaman (1890-1916) teacher at Dunston Hill School. Volunteered in 1916 but died of appendicitis while training as a second lieutenant. Biography added June 2013.

The County Hall memorial only covers the employees of the County Council, not employees of the district and borough councils in the county area, but it may be possible to extend the research in due course.

Sources for the history of the memorial

Our research used the following sources from Durham County Record Office:

  • Durham County Council Finance Committee minutes, CC/A4/1/5, pp.311,384,433,458,537
  • Durham County Council Finance Committee minutes, CC/A4/1/12, pp.252,317,404,437
  • Photograph of memorial in Shire Hall, CC/X 110
  • Letters of thanks from recipients of photographs, CC/X 110
  • Durham Advertiser, 29 July 1921, p.5(c)
  • Durham Chronicle, 29 July 1921, p.4(e)
  • Durham Advertiser, 5 November 1948, p.4(h)
  • Durham Advertiser, 12 November 1948, p.4(g)
  • Durham Chronicle, 12 November 1948, p.5(c)