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A memorial to North East shipyard workers who gave their lives for their country during the two World Wars has been refurbished by PD Ports engineers.

The Smith’s Dock War Memorial, at the entrance to the Teesport Commerce Business Park, has seen the original memorial name plaques cleaned and made weather-proof, while the surrounding area has been turned into a garden of remembrance.

A private ceremony to rededicate the memorial will take place on Sunday, June 25, led by PD Ports chief executive Frans Calje and Liz Chambers, chair of the Smith’s Dock Park Trust.

A blessing will be made, followed by an act of remembrance and the playing of the Last Post.

The memorial wall was first erected in 1924 at Smith’s Dock’s South Shields site, to honour those employees who both served and fell in the Great War. An additional plaque was added following World War II.

Following the closure of the South Shields operation the plaques were moved to Offshore House at South Bank, until the 1987 decision to close the dockyards and the end of ship building by Smith’s Dock.

The plaques were moved to their current location in the late 1980s after PD Ports had taken over the site, when it became Teesport Commerce Park. In 2020 a proposal was made by PD Ports Engineering Champions Dino Capaldi and Andrew Jaffray to refurbish the memorial and make it a fitting tribute to the fallen.

The refurbishment project has been supported by PD Ports and contributions from a number of local businesses.

Emily Clark, assistant civil engineer, who has led on the refurbishment programme, said: “We wanted to create somewhere that was a fitting memorial to the shipyard workers and a nice place for veterans and families to visit. It was particularly important that it had good access for visitors so that’s something we’ve concentrated on.

“We’ve had a lot of support from local businesses and also from Liz Chambers at the Trust to make this possible.”

Frans Calje, PD Ports chief executive, said: “These memorial plaques are an important part of the heritage of Teesport Commerce Park and this work will mean that they will remain in pride of place for many years to come.

“Thanks must go to our engineering team for their hard work and for the support of the Smith’s Dock Park Trust for their advice and guidance.”

Posted in: CSR

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