ROLLS of honour from the First World War have been brought out of the dark after lying forgotten in a church bell tower for decades.

Churchgoer Ian Wood unearthed the two memorials from the tower of St John’s Church in Darlington after they were first stored there in the 1970s.

It is believed that they were originally displayed at the former St John’s School but were moved to the church when the school was demolished.

Mr Wood noticed the neglected memorials when he visited the bell tower whilst work was being carried out to replace a ladder in the church belfry.

He said it was a shame to see them covered in dust and he set about restoring the rolls of honour to their former glory.

They will now be given pride of place at a commemorative WW1 exhibition at St John’s Church on August 4.

Mr Wood said: “They are going to form a central part of the exhibition; they are a part of the history of Eastbourne.”

The memorials are framed in oak and one contains the names of all the former St John’s School pupils who fought in the war, whilst the other lists those who lost their lives in the conflict.

There is already a roll of honour at St John’s Church which displays the names of Darlington’s fallen soldiers and Mr Wood is now studying the memorials to compare the names on each.

He is also keen to delve deeper into the history of those who fought.

Mr Wood said: “There are a lot of names on the church roll from the Durham Light Infantry.

“I’m going to get in touch with the county records office and research the history of those people.

“I would say that the memorials have been hidden for at least 40 years and we hope to get the Bishop of Durham down in November to put them on the church wall permanently.”

Research indicates that Darlington was one of the first 50 towns in the country to form its own ‘pals’ regiment, with the first 65 volunteers signed up by September 4, 1914.

Within five months of the regiment marching through the town centre, Darlington man Corporal Alix Oliffe Liddle was killed by a shell during the bombardment of Hartlepool, making him one of the first soldiers to be killed in battle on the British mainland in 200 years.