As early as August 1919, it was decided to perpetuate the memory of those men from the Ryton and district area who had lost their lives with the idea of erecting a suitable memorial.
Elected at a public meeting, the committee was delegated to consider the most appropriate form of memorial to erect. Mr. Pearson Knowles, 10 St. Mary’s Terrace, Ryton, was elected as honorary secretary. Further public meetings were held to discuss ideas and suggestions which would form the basis of the project. On completion of these meetings it was decided to erect a memorial paid for by public subscription, in a suitably prominent place.
Throughout the following months work was undertaken to collect the names of those men who had died whilst on active service. By September 1920, the list was complete. A deadline of the 16th October was given to next of kin, relatives, and friends of the deceased to examine the list and report any omissions. Mr. Knowles stipulated that it was essential that the list be complete and accurate as possible before the bronze tablets, on which the names were to be recorded, are cast, as no alterations can afterwards be made. Lists of names were shown on large posters and copies publicly displayed throughout the district.
The twenty-five feet high memorial of Portland stone was erected at a cost of £1,600 and placed on a mound at the top of Station Bank, near Ryton Holy Cross Church. It is approached by a flight of steps, and walled on three sides.
On five bronze tablets are inscribed the names of the 273 fallen (13 officers and 260 other ranks). The inscription reads as follows.
“To the memory of the men of Ryton Urban District who died in the cause of righteousness and freedom in the great European war, and with thanks to Almighty God for the gift of such splendid sons.”
“ Now sleep the brave who sink to rest. By all their country’s wishes bless’d.”
The unveiling and the dedication of the memorial took place on the afternoon of Saturday, 5th November 1921. Hundreds of people attended the unveiling including relatives, friends, military officers, the clergy, members of the Ryton Urban District Council, and members of the memorial committee. The prayer was opened by the Rev. J.G. Benson (Wesleyan). The hymns were led by the 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. The ceremony began with a brief address by Lieutenant Colonel F. R. Simpson.; As chairman of the committee, he said that many beautiful memorials stood in the neighbouring parts, but it was felt that a memorial should be provided in the ancient centre of the district. The site had been given by the Rector of Ryton. The unveiling was then performed by Major General Sir Percy Wilkinson, KCMG, CB.
He said it was his proud privilege to have under his command a number of North country regiments during the Great War.
Assigning the care of the memorial to the Ryton Urban District Council, Mr. John Cocks said:
“We have overcome our enemies in the war, let us overcome our internal enemies in peace.”
Councillor R.W. Wren (Chairman of the Council) accepted the custody of the memorial for all future time.
“The Last Post” and “Reveille” were sounded by buglers of the 4th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, followed by two minutes silence.
Dedicatory prayers were offered by the Rev. C. B. R. Hunter (Rector), and an address was delivered by the Archdeacon of Durham. The Rev. M. F. Ffrench (Congregational) also spoke.
Following the end of the 1939-45 conflict, a further ninety five names of those men and a woman from the district who lost their lives were added to the Cross of Sacrifice.
Blaydon Courier, 9th August 1919.
Blaydon Courier, 25th September 1920.
Newcastle Illustrated Chronicle, 26th October 1921.
Newcastle Sunday Sun, 6th November 1921.
Blaydon Courier, 12th November 1921.
Hexham Courant, 13th November 1921.