North Eastern Railway War Memorial

North Eastern Railway War Memorial
United Kingdom
NER War Memorial full view 1 - 2017-02-18.jpg
For employees of the North Eastern Railway killed in the First World War
Unveiled 1924 (1924)
Location 53°57′31″N 1°05′23″W / 53°57′31″N 1°05′23″W / 53.958658; -1.089814
Station Approach, York, England
Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens
Listed Building – Grade II*
Official name North Eastern Railway Company War Memorial
Designated 10 September 1970
Reference no. 1256553

The North Eastern Railway War Memorial is a First World War memorial in York in northern England. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens to commemorate employees of the North Eastern Railway (NER) who left to fight in the First World War and were killed while serving. The NER board voted in early 1920 to allocate £20,000 for a memorial and commissioned Lutyens. The committee for the York City War Memorial followed suit and also appointed Lutyens, but both schemes became embroiled in controversy. Concerns were raised from within the community about the effect of the NER memorial on the city walls and its impact on the proposed scheme for the city's war memorial, given that the two memorials were planned to be 100 yards (90 metres) apart and the city's budget was a tenth of the NER's. The controversy was resolved after Lutyens modified his plans for the NER memorial to move it away from the walls and the city opted for a revised scheme on land just outside the walls; coincidentally the land was owned by the NER, whose board donated it to the city.

The NER memorial was unveiled on 14 June 1924 by Field Marshal Lord Plumer. It consists of a 54-foot (16-metre) high obelisk which rises from the rear portion of a three-sided screen wall. The wall forms a recess in which stands Lutyens' characteristic Stone of Remembrance. The wall itself is decorated with several carved swags and wreaths, including a wreath surrounding the NER's coat of arms at the base of the obelisk. The memorial is a grade II* listed building, and is part of a "national collection" of Lutyens' war memorials.

Background

The North Eastern Railway (NER), one of the largest employers in the north of England, released over 18,000 of its employees to serve in the armed forces during the First World War, many of them joining the 17th (North Eastern Railway) Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. By the end of the war, 2,236 men from the company had died on military service overseas; others were killed at home by bombardments of east coast ports, such as the raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby, and in the three Zeppelin raids on York. [1] [2]

After the war, thousands of memorials were built across Britain. Among the most prominent designers of memorials was architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, described by Historic England as "the leading English architect of his generation". Lutyens designed the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London, which became the focus for the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations, as well as the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing—the largest British war memorial anywhere in the world—and the Stone of Remembrance which appears in all large Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries and in several of Lutyens' war memorials in Britain, including the North Eastern Railway's. [3] [4]

The war memorial is one of several buildings and structures in the centre of York related to the NER, including the company's headquarters and the city's original railway station. The site—chosen as being immediately adjacent to the company's head office—was originally a coal depot and carriage sidings. [3] [1] [5]

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