Fundraising is underway to renovate and relocate two Teesside war memorials that pay tribute to former Smith’s Dock shipbuilding workers who gave their lives during the first and second world wars.
Currently displayed at Teesport Commerce Park, the monuments display plaques listing the names of served and fallen soldiers who worked at Smith’s Dock in the South Bank area of Middlesbrough.
Smith’s Dock Trust, The Friends of Smith’s Dock Park War Memorial and PD Ports’ Engineering department have since joined forces in a campaign to raise a total of £75,000 to aid the relocation and restoration of the two memorials.
These funds will cover the cost of moving both plaques to a more accessible location at Teesport, as well as paying expert craftsmen to restore the bronze plaques and their oak frames to their original conditions.
The idea was founded by PD Ports Engineers Dino Capaldi and Andrew Jaffray who felt the current location didn’t allow for enough people to go and pay their respects.
“People don’t know that the memorials are even there at the moment and that needs to change,” they said.
“We need to get them moved to a more prominent location and restored so that they can get the respect that they deserve.”
The duo took their proposal to PD Ports Group HR Director Russ McCallion who backed the project and encouraged them to reach out to Friends of Smith’s Dock to get the ball rolling.
“It was great to see two of our team so passionate about what is ultimately a very selfless project,” said Russ.
“I encouraged Dino and Andrew to work with the Friends of Smith’s Dock and the War Memorial Trust to ensure we were following correct procedures whilst still offering as much support as we can.
“The restorations will allow for the memorials to take pride of place in their new, secure, prominent location.”
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston has also pledged his support to the campaign to ensure the memorial is best placed to give the recognition it deserves.
“Recognising and remembering the sacrifices Teessiders made is incredibly important so I think what Dino and Andrew are doing is quite fantastic – these guys are showing real Teesside spirit,” Andy said.
“It’s great to see PD Ports working alongside the Trust remembering the Smith Dock employees who paid the ultimate price for freedom.
Well done to everyone at PD Ports too – you’re doing Teesside proud.”
The project has also received the support of Councillor Billy Wells, Mayor of Redcar and Cleveland, who said “I am delighted to see that this piece of history is going to be renovated and placed in a new more prominent home where these brave men can be remembered by future generations.”
As a prominent shipbuilding company, Smith’s Dock built many ships that served during World War II and is perhaps most famous for preparing the design of the anti-submarine convoy escort celebrated in the novel, The Cruel Sea. Smith’s Dock merged with Swan Hunter in 1966, with the South Bank shipyard on the River Tees finally closing in 1987.
The groups are hoping that the fundraising target will be met later this year so that a grand opening ceremony can be held, and the community will have a new, more suitable place to pay their respects.
All donors will be listed in an order of service booklet distributed during the opening ceremony.
For more details or to find out how to make a donation, please visit Smith’s Dock’s official twitter account @smithsdockwall or search Smith Dock Wall via Go Fund Me https://www.gofundme.com/f/smith-dock-wall