Sunderland Sikh community restore forgotten war memorial in grounds of temple

Restored WW1 cenotaph helped by the Sikh community, councillors Michael Dixon and Peter Wood
Restored WW1 cenotaph helped by the Sikh community, councillors Michael Dixon and Peter Wood
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A memorial to Sunderland war heroes which had fallen into disrepair has been restored to its former glory by members of the city’s Sikh community.

The cross-style memorial was installed at the former Christ Church in Ashbrooke following WWI to honour the 67 men of the parish and congregation who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country during The Great War.

Restored WW1 cenotaph helped by the Sikh community, councillors Michael Dixon and Peter Wood

Restored WW1 cenotaph helped by the Sikh community, councillors Michael Dixon and Peter Wood

Over the decades, their names inscribed in the Portland stone had become hidden by moss and the steps surrounding the memorial were in desperate need of repair.

After the church became redundant in 1998, the site off Ryhope Road which contains the memorial was bought by the Sikh community who turned it into Sunderland Sikh Temple.

Now they’ve invested £1,000 into repairing an important part of Sunderland’s war history, which also features the ranks and regiments of the forces personnel.

Baldev Kahlon, who is in charge of maintenance at the site, said: “It was a specialist job to have it restored as it needed to be sandblasted, but I work in the building trade so was able to find the right people for the job. It took around two weeks to complete the restoration.”

Paula Dale, treasurer at the temple, said: “It’s such a beautiful memorial and it was a real shame to see it covered in moss and in need of repair. We restored it in time for the Heritage Open Day weekend and we had a great response from the visitors. They were able to read all the names clearly now, as well as a beautiful inscription.”

Members of the Sikh community also contacted local ward councillors who made a contribution to the repairs.

St Michael’s Ward Councillor, Michael Dixon, said he was delighted with the improvements.

He said: “This important memorial, unveiled in 1921, had been deteriorating for some time and the Sikh Temple leaders felt it was necessary to take steps to renovate and repair, progress on which fortunately coincided with the recent Heritage Open Days in the city.

“All three St Michael’s councillors are providing their support for this project by recommending some ward-based funding towards the cost. However, credit for this welcome initiative goes to the Sikh Temple and its members for their genuine concern about the declining condition of this memorial honouring the dead in war and ensuring the work was carried out.”