War memorial, unveiled 1959.
Reasons for Designation
Thornely War Memorial, which stands to the north of High Street, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this local community, and the sacrifice it has made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Architectural interest: a simple yet poignant war memorial built in a local stone, effectively designed to accommodate ceremonial activities.
The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever with tens of thousands of memorials erected across England. This was the result of both the huge impact on communities of the loss of three quarters of a million British lives, and also the official policy of not repatriating the dead: therefore the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss.
Thornley was the pit village for Thornley Colliery. The colliery was opened in 1835 and closed in 1970. Following the First World War, the community erected a memorial plaque in the newly-built Miner’s Welfare Hall: the plaque listed the names of 133 men, all of whom had worked in Thornley Colliery, who died in the conflict. It was unveiled in 1925, but in 1944 the Hall burnt down. Following the Second World War the free-standing memorial wall was built on the site of the Hall, commemorating all those local service personnel who had died in the First and Second World Wars. The names of one man who died whilst serving in the British Army of the Rhine, and one in the Northern Ireland conflict, were later added.
This new memorial cost £1,000, raised by public subscription. Designed by Mr D Dunlop of Durham, it was unveiled on 23 May 1959 by Mr TH Holder and dedicated by Reverend WA Lathaen.
The memorial stands to the north side of High Street. It takes the form of a long, curving, coped stone wall, c2.5m high, built in Dunhouse stone from Staindrop. The central section is a raised stone panel projecting above the general wall height. A plain Latin cross carved in relief in the centre of the panel is flanked by the principal dedicatory inscription and two name panels.
The inscription, divided to left and right of the cross, reads TO THE GLORY OF GOD/ AND IN MEMORY OF/ THE EMPLOYEES AND/ RESIDENTS OF THORNLEY/ WHO MADE THE SUPREME/ SACRIFICE IN THE WARS. A quotation from the Gospel of St John, GREATER LOVE/ HATH NO MAN/ THAN THIS/ THAT A MAN/ LAY DOWN HIS LIFE/ FOR HIS FRIENDS, is incised below the foot of the cross.
The two rectangular name panels, each outlined by a raised moulded border, record the First and Second World War dead. Either side of the central panel, two small plaques are inserted into the wall face: these record additional names from the First World War onwards. To the front of the memorial a low stone wall defines a flower bed with a central stepped platform below the central plaque, for the placement of wreaths and floral tributes.
This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 22 February 2017.