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Denbigh Community Primary School, Tyne and Wear

Yr 6 pupils at Denbigh Community Primary School looking at images of war memorials © Denbigh Community Primary School, 2018
Yr 6 pupils at Denbigh Community Primary School carrying out a condition survey at Wallsend war memorial © Denbigh Community Primary School, 2018
Yr 6 pupils and WMT's Learning Officer uploading the condition survey results to War Memorials Online © Denbigh Community Primary School, 2018
  • County name: Tyne and Wear
  • Group/School name: Denbigh Community Primary School
  • Age group: 5 - 11
  • Group type: Year 6

This learning visit was carried out as part of a set of visits in conjunction with Historic England’s Heritage Schools Programme.  The Local Heritage Education Manager for the North East had previously taken the year 6 classes from Denbigh Community Primary on a heritage walk around their local area.  On this walk one of the local sites which was included was the Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Memorial Hall in Wallsend.  The visit by War Memorials Trust’s took place on the morning of the school’s Heritage Day and gave pupils the opportunity to visit to find out more about their local heritage, visit another local memorial and find out how they could contribute to protecting and conserving their local war memorials.  It also supplemented the learning which had taken place as part of their ‘Lest We Forget’ topic.

Our Learning Officer worked with both year 6 classes for the whole morning during the visit to Denbigh Community Primary School.  The first session was classroom based.  Pupils looked at what war memorials are using some local ones as examples.  Some of these memorials had interesting and informative inscriptions.  One of the memorials commemorated over 1,500 men from a single company who served their country during World War I and also named the 185 men who gave their lives.  It also acknowledged the patriotism shown by these men.  This led to a discussion on the meaning of the word patriotism which was quite apt given the amount of patriotism being shown at the time because of the FIFA World Cup.  The inscription on Murton and New York First World War memorial cross reads ‘Pass not this stone in sorrow but in pride. For they died that you might live’ and the meaning of this was discussed. 

To conclude the classroom session pupils found out how many war memorials there are in the UK and also looked at when and why war memorials were created.  The timeline activity used to look at when war memorials were created was useful in highlighting the number of war memorials created in the wake of the Great War and also that it is the centenary of World War I at the moment.

The glorious sunny weather was perfect for carrying out a condition survey at Wallsend First and Second World War memorial.  On the way to the memorial a number of pupils commented that we were walking past their houses or the end of their roads.  It is always a delight to know that the war memorial being visited is so local to so many of the pupils and encourages them to take pride in their local area and heritage.

Upon arriving at the memorial, pupils were asked to describe what they could see.  The memorial is a stone obelisk surmounted by a bronze figure of Victory stood on a globe.  It was pointed out to pupils that around the four sides of the obelisk were the lines from the Lawrence Binyon poem For the Fallen: ‘At the going down of the sun we will remember.’  Pupils were intrigued to find out that the memorial was unveiled on Armistice Day in 1925.  The name of the sculptor, Newbury Abbott Trent, was shared with pupils and they may go on to see if they can find out more about the sculptor.

The pupils carried out two activities at the war memorial.  The first was the condition survey for which they were split into expert groups.  Each group focused on a different aspect of the memorial and these were then combined back in the classroom to give an overall condition level.  The photographers did an excellent job of recording the concerns of the different groups so that there is a photographic record which supports the condition level judgement.  The second activity allowed pupils time to personally respond to the war memorial given its striking appearance and the large, open grass area around it.  Some pupils chose to sketch the war memorial while others wrote down the inscription or their thoughts in reaction to it.

Back in the classroom, all pupils were involved in sharing their findings and observations to provide a comprehensive condition update which was uploaded to War Memorials Online.  Although there were some issues including some missing pieces of stone from the corner of the steps, pupils considered the overall condition to be fair because the condition description ‘it is quite well looked after, but we found a few issues that need to be fixed’ was the most relevant.

The visit was enjoyed by all involved.  Our Learning Officer was delighted to observe pupils taking such pride in the area they lived, taking steps to protect their local war memorial and hopefully being inspired to become the next generation of war memorial custodians.

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