Eight men from Stockton who became volunteer soldiers for democracy during the Spanish Civil War were remembered at events to mark the official dedication of a new memorial.

Relatives of the men travelled from across Britain and Ireland to take part on Sunday, April 23.

Activities included a town centre procession, talks, film, poetry and songs at the Georgian Theatre and a basketball competition at Stockton Sixth Form College.

The eight men were George Bright, William Carson, Wilfred Cowan, Otto Estensen, Myles Harding, Johnny Longstaff, Patrick Maroney and Bert Overton. They fought as volunteers in Spain with the International Brigade from 1936-38. They joined up to defend the democratically-elected Spanish government against a coup by General Francisco Franco, which was supported by Hitler's Nazi Germany and Mussolini's Italy.

Other International Brigade volunteers came from Teesside, including Middlesbrough, Eston, South Bank and Hartlepool. Overall, 22 Teesside men went to Spain and eight lost their lives there.

The new Stockton International Brigade memorial is at Wasp's Nest Yard, off Calvert Lane, Silver Street and Green Dragon Yard off the High Street.

Relatives of the eight volunteers and other Stockton people who played important roles helping Spain joined the memorial dedication and events.

Among them was actress Elizabeth Estensen, daughter of volunteer Otto Estensen. She is known to many for playing Diane Sugden on ITV's Emmerdale, plus other TV work including Coronation Street and The Liver Birds.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Actress Elizabeth Estensen back behind the bar at the Golden Smog

Elizabeth grew up in Stockton but now lives near London. She presented the Otto Estensen trophy at the basketball contest then joined the town centre procession and spoke at the Georgian Theatre.

Also taking part was John Sutherland. He is the son of the late Sir Maurice Sutherland, who was Otto Estensen's employer and brother in law. (Separately, Maurice Sutherland was the mayor of the former Teesside County Borough in the 1970s and then leader of the former Cleveland County Council.) John formally 'tipped-off' the basketball contest.

Other guests included George Short and Alan Short, from Sadberge and Colchester. They are the son and grandon respectively of George and Phyllis Short, who were Communist Party activists on Teesside and supported the International Brigade in the 1930s.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Relatives, from left, George Short, Alan Short, Katie Quigley, Chris Hill, Mich Maroney, Elizabeth

Chris Hill, Katie Quigley, Mich Maroney and Barbara Sneath are all relatives of Patrick Maroney. Katie Quigley lives in Catterick, North Yorkshire, while others travelled from Ireland. Peter Widlinski spoke on behalf of Duncan Longstaff, the son of Johnny Longstaff. Mr Widlinski's dad was a refugee from Ukraine after the Second World War who came to Britain. During the Spanish Civil War, Basque refugee children came to Britain and some stayed at Hutton Hall near Guisborough.

The Stockton activities began with the basketball tournament at the Sixth Form College. Then came the procession along the High Street to the Market Cross.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Tony Fox speaks below the new Stockton International Brigade memorial at Wasp's Nest Yard

That was the scene for another 1930s political event, known as the Battle of Stockton. It was a successful counter-demonstration against Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF), led by Communist Party supporters and the party's Teesside secretary, George Short. 

Then at Wasp's Nest Yard, the new memorial was dedicated. Speakers included Tony Fox, a Billingham history teacher and key campaigner for the Stockton memorial with others, including pub landlord John Christie, whose businesses include the Golden Smog.

Evening activities at the Georgian Theatre included talks from the relatives and the new memorial designers, Abby Taylor and Owen Smith. 

Their International Brigade memorial is partly inspired by artist Pablo Picasso's Guernica painting from the Spanish Civil War era. The Stockton men's names are featured in a stainless steel frame around the imagery. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: Supporters of the Stockton International Brigade memorial campaign at the Market Cross

Music, songs and poetry at the Georgian Theatre came from the Smog Singers, Bob Beagrie and Project Lono. 

John Christie has been a key figure in the Stockton memorial campaign, and Elizabeth Estensen visited one of his pubs, the Golden Smog, and pulled a few pints - just like during her days on Emmerdale.

The pub has a host of Teesside memorabilia and a large mural with the International Brigade's red, yellow and purple flag. 

Mr Christie served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers when younger, supporting the British Army.

He and Tony Fox are both members of the International Brigade Memorial Trust (IBMT) which raises awareness of the Spanish Civil War and looks after memorials to volunteers.