FWW Project Blog!

TNL_HLFE_PANTONESaturday 1st April 2017

On Saturday 1st April, Teesside Archaeological Society, First World War volunteers and Robin Daniels from Tees Archaeology joined forces for the first of two tours, a guided tour of Hartlepool’s Historic Headland (The second is upcoming in Marske-by-the-sea). The well attended day, ‘Defending the Headland’, started out at St Hilda’s Church and ended at the Heugh Gun Battery.


Hartlepool Headland’s Town Wall

The aim of the day was to introduce the public to the coastal defences that are located on Hartlepool’s Historic Headland, picking out some of those important buildings that are still visible today – strategic points throughout the First World War and before.

The tour took on board the defensive sites that are still visible, including Hartlepool’s Medieval Town Wall (and remaining buildings), English Civil War plans, and First World War defences. Following the guided tour of the headland, the Heugh Museum on the Headland showed volunteers around the First World War gun battery, even getting to handle the likes of AK47s and Winchester Rifles!


Looking out to sea – Robin Daniels (Tees Archaeology) entertaining the group

Monday 6th March 2017

On Monday 6th March, Chris, Gareth and I took a trip to Hartlepool to record some additional First World War sites. The area we chose was beside the Lighthouse Battery and the Heugh Gun Battery. This area is a site of historical significance as it and the Heugh were the only coastal defenses to engage enemy during World War One. The battery itself returned fire during the bombardment of 16th December 1914 but mechanical problems meant the gun fired very few rounds/ The whole site was amalgamated with the Heugh Battery in 1936 and used again in World War II, but mainly for observation.

Just south of the battery is an array of houses, and although one or two has since been demolished (the result of being shelled in the bombardment) some of which were used in the First World War for troop accommodation and officer’s mess.

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HER No: 8407 –  Greencliffe House, Moor Terrace Hartlepool was listed as Accommodation of Troops in the War Office, Lands and Buildings  in the occupation of the war department list.

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Left: HER No: 8406 – Currently a house, however in the First World War this building was used as troop accommodation and was listed as ‘Officers Mess’ in the released buildings list. What is interesting about this house is that it has stone chimney pots on the roof which are original to the house. Above: HER 8405, two, two-story terrace houses  that are currently used as houses. In the First World War, these buildings were used as troop accommodation. What a great view they would have had of the North Sea!

Thursday 23rd February 2017

The present landscape of Thornaby’s Aerodrome is a built up landscape. However in World War 1 the Airfield at Thornaby was used as a Night Landing Ground and as a Class 2 (Second Class) Landing Ground. It was disbanded
in 1919.

It was used as a Night Landing Ground and, later, Second Class Landing Ground, for No.36 Squadron: a Squadron formed on 18 March 1916 from the Home Defence Flight at Cramlington, Northumberland, for the defence of the coast between Newcastle and Whitby (including the Tyne and Tees) against Zeppelin raids.

(Davis, 2012; Philpott, 2013, pp.107, 271; Royal Air Force, 2017).

The function of Night Landing Grounds was ‘to provide for the real possibility of patrolling machines being unable to return to base through fuel shortage, engine failure or adverse weather’

  (Davis, 2012)

The need for lighting (ROBLOX.com) indicates a need for men to staff the field.

Later, it continued as a (Class 2 Landing Ground) stopover for aeroplanes flying between Marske and Catterick (e.g. Philpott, 2013, p.271; Ludwig, 2017; Helicopter History Site)

  • Catterick airfield opened in 1914 for pilot training and the defence of North East England (Historic England, 2015)
  • Marske ‘Aerodrome’ was established as a RFC/RAF flying school in late 1917 (North East Land Air Sea Museum, 2012)

Two names are associated with the Airfield in June 1916: Thomas Barr, and Joseph W Sweetapple. These are describes as ‘members of the Royal Flying Corps’ rather than as ‘pilots’: hence, probably, not officers. (British Newspaper Archive: North-Eastern Daily Gazette, Monday June 26 1916).

A search of Forces War Records, World War 1, gives a record for one Joseph W Sweetapple, Air Mechanic 1st Class (1918).

At the time of writing, no results connected with the RAF were found for Thomas Barr – although three entries for T BARR are associated with the RAF. Of these, two are listed as Air Mechanic 3rd Class and one as Chief Mechanic (all Royal Air Force, 1918).

None of these records were examined in detail.

(Forces War Records: World War 1)

In June 1919, the RAF announced that it would be relinquishing the Landing Ground at Thornaby

(Flight, June 5 1919, p.734).

Thanks to Maureen Norrie, Jill Bates, Rachel Grahame and Gareth Rees for their hard work on this site.

Thursday 19th January 2017

7 Paradise Row (now 78 Church Road), Stockton on Tees is currently a large double-fronted terraced house; three stories; brick built with mortar, Flemish bond; green front door partially boarded up and attached at either side to neighbouring houses.

However, in 1914 this Grade II* listed building was listed under ‘Accommodation of Troops’ (War Office Lands and Building Reconstruction Committee List of Lands and Buildings in the occupation of the War Department, 1st June 1918, Northern Command).


Funnily enough, it was described in a ‘to let’ as, ‘Residence containing 12 rooms with large garden behind; stabling or garage if required; suit professional man‘. (British Newspaper Archive; online).

Thanks to Ken Norrie and Maureen Norrie for their hard work on this.

Thursday 1st December 2016.

On Thursday December 1st two volunteers (Dave Mennear & Gareth Rees) and I embarked on a windy trip to Redcar to record a couple of First World War buildings. We first wandered over to the seafront where we came across the first of these buildings (8558 on the Historic Environment Record).


Currently The Coatham Hotel, in the First World War this grand building was listed as a range finder for the battery. In addition, this building would have been utilised as rooms 8559for the troops stationed in this area. I like this building and I imagine what it would look like in black and white. Officers entering. – I think you’ll agree it has a nice feel to it.

From here we headed along the coast until we got to 4, The Esplanade. Unfortunately, this particular fish and chip shop was closed. On the bright side, we did take a picture because this was listed as, ‘Various – Motor Cycle’ in the War Office lists and therefore also used in the First World War! Maybe it was a motor cycle repair shop, maybe it sold motorbikes? This is uncertain, however if you get a chance, do look at the chimney stack with its interesting and unusual brick work. After documenting this building we walked towards the highstreet.

Probably the most surprising find of the day was the next building (5751). Now listed as Central Hall, this building was originally the terminus of the Middlesbrough and Redcar Railway. In 1918 this building was controlled by the War Office and was listed as a school. From here we headed back to the car, but not before stopping at one more building (8551). Listed as ‘stores’ in the War Office List and located at 20A Queen Street. This building was magnificent.


Not much is known about the use of this building. In fact, 20A has now been merged with the other locations so it is uncertain which part of this magnificent building was used in the First World War. Nevertheless, I think you will agree that there is no better way to end the day with a pint in a building that was used in the First World War.

7/12/16 Sound Mirror, Boulby

This is a First World War listening post, otherwise known as an acoustic mirror. This is a passive device that was used to reflect sound waves. In the First World War the mirror was used to detect incoming aircraft by listening for the sound of their engines.


This particular sound mirror provided air surveillance for the nearby Skinningrove works and the Tees Estuary. This early warning device was only replaced by the invention of radar.

Documented by Adele Ward.

27/11/16 The Salvation Army, Palmerston St, Stockton on Tees

Our first building that has been recorded is a small hall located in Stockton on Tees. The current function of the building is for the Salvation Army; a place of worship, with a smaller hall for community activities.

HER 8427a front and side (south) elevation.jpg

In the First World War this building was used as army barracks, providing accommodation for troops in the First World War. This building remains one of the relatively few buildings that existed in World War One that remains in the immediate area.

Documented by Maureen Norrie and Jill Bates.