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Pelton Fell Cenotaph and memorial gates

A Grade II Listed Building in Chester-le-Street West Central, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.8635 / 54°51'48"N

Longitude: -1.6079 / 1°36'28"W

OS Eastings: 425267

OS Northings: 552152

OS Grid: NZ252521

Mapcode National: GBR KD66.PC

Mapcode Global: WHC4B.80LW

Entry Name: Pelton Fell Cenotaph and memorial gates

Listing Date: 17 October 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1438974

Location: County Durham, DH2

County: County Durham

Electoral Ward/Division: Chester-le-Street West Central

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Pelton

Church of England Diocese: Durham

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First World War cenotaph designed by AH Fennell LRIBA, unveiled 1922, with later additions for the Second World War, and war memorial gates designed by Messrs Emley and Son and made by HH Martyn and Co, 1922.


The memorial gates are at the Station Lane entrance to the park, a symmetrical composition comprising sandstone gate piers from which hang the iron gates. Each capped pier is ornamented to the front with a wreath carved in relief immediately under the cornice. The broad, tall gates have plain vertical bars and a dog-rail to each side, with panels across the top reading, to the left, 1914 and, to the right, 1919 and ornamental margents hanging at either end.

The gates frame the Heworth sandstone cenotaph, c9m tall, standing in the park at the intersection of footpaths. A large stone block representing the empty tomb is raised on the cornice of a broad, tapering pier, at the foot of which is a decorated ovolo moulding. The pier stands on the cornice of a large plinth, rectangular on plan, that is raised on a three-stepped base. A wreath is carved in relief to the front and rear faces of the pier.

The principal dedicatory inscription on a bronze plaque fixed to the front face of the plinth reads: IN GLORIOUS MEMORY OF THOSE OF PELTON FELL AND DISTRICT/ WHO LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR/ 1914 1919/ (NAMES). The remaining First World War names are continued on a similar, stone, plaque to the rear. The Second World War dedication recorded on a stone plaque fixed to the front face of the pier reads: IN MEMORY OF THOSE OF PELTON FELL & DISTRICT/ WHO LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES IN WORLD WAR II/ 1939 – 1945/ (NAMES).

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 7 February 2017.


The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever with tens of thousands of memorials created across the country. 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. At Pelton Fell a memorial park incorporating commemorative structures was chosen to be a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.

Pelton Fell was a pit village serving Pelton Colliery. The colliery opened in 1835 and closed in 1965. Following the First World War housing for war widows was proposed to be an appropriate memorial commemorating those from the community who had died in the conflict, but the colliery company had decided to provide its own new accommodation. A memorial park with extensive facilities including baths and a band-stand was instead agreed. In the event, the memorial park designed by Albert H Fennell LRIBA was laid out with sports and recreation facilities and included a cenotaph.

The total cost of the park and its facilities was £6,000, considerably less than the £20,000 estimated for the original scheme. The park gates, designed by Messrs Emley and Son, Newcastle upon Tyne, were made by HH Martyn and Co of Cheltenham. When the park’s pavilion was opened on 22 July 1922, the gates were unlocked by Sir Horace Plunkett (Chairman of Pelton Colliery) using a special silver key. The dedication was made by the Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend JT Quirk. The cenotaph, built to Fennell’s design by Messrs Alexander Pringle Ltd of Gateshead and Messrs Emley and Son, records the names of 135 local service personnel who died in the First World War. Following the Second World War a plaque with the names of 17 men who died in that conflict was added. Two original metal plaques were stolen and have been replaced with stone tablets. When the replacement of the park's pavilion was opened on 11 November 2007, the whole ensemble was re-dedicated.

Albert H Fennell LRIBA (1886-1961) was a partner in the firm of Fennell and Baddiley of Chester-le-Street. Architects and chartered surveyors, the company was responsible for housing and other local buildings, and worked for the Diocese of Durham. Emley and Sons Ltd of Newcastle upon Tyne was a firm of masons also supplying marble and other specialised stone products as well as ornamental bronze and iron work for architectural purposes. The company was responsible for a number of war memorials including those listed at Grade II in Seaton Burn, Dunston, Throckley, and Belmont.

Messrs HH Martyn and Co Ltd of Cheltenham (active 1888-1971) specialised in the design and production of sculptures and ecclesiastical furnishings. A prolific and important firm, during the First World War the works were turned over to aircraft manufacture. By 1920 the company employed more than 1000 workers at its Sunningend Works and in the aftermath of the First World War it designed, or contributed to the design of, many war memorials, a number of which are listed.

Reasons for Listing

Pelton Fell Cenotaph and memorial gates, in Pelton Fell Memorial Park, are 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 sacrifices it has made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Architectural interest: a substantial and well-proportioned cenotaph framed by the understated memorial gates made by noted architectural suppliers HH Martyn and Co.

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