The Heugh Battery Museum is a real jewel in our crown. It literally is the site of the only First World War battlefield in the UK and, in that respect, is unique. When I came to Hartlepool at the turn of the century I remember the place being nothing more than a couple of dilapidated buildings and a derelict site. But, thanks to an army of volunteers, it was slowly restored to the magnificent attraction it is today; a great testimony to everyone involved with the project and a real asset to the Headland and to the Town as a whole. As Museum Manager Diane Stephens says ‘It’s international military importance is massive. It is also hugely significant to local history with the bombardment and loss of civilian and military life in Hartlepool’. I, for one, share her and the volunteers ambitions to protect the site and encourage more visitors so that the Museum can continue to tell it’s important story to future generations, which is why I am supporting them in their quest to raise £5,000 to cover a winter closure shortfall to cover bills and conservation costs. Their appeal can be found at www.JustGiving.com
The Headland is a wonderful place. Full of history, of course, but a magnificent part of Hartlepool just to walk around. Last Friday I treated myself to a very tasty half lot from Verrill’s Fish Shop before nipping into St Hilda’s Church to see the ‘pop up’ exhibition by the Durham University Archaeological Society showing Anglo Saxon Name Stones unique to Hartlepool and the North East. It was a truly fascinating exhibition bringing our ancient past into full focus and reminded me of the recent discovery of an Anglo Saxon burial site near Hart Village. Everything seems to have gone quiet on that important discovery so I asked the archaeologists at St Hilda’s about it. Apparently it is not their dig but they did hint that a public talk will be held soon by the experts on site. I sincerely hope so because understanding our history and heritage is important.
Straight after St Hilda’s I headed for the Borough Hall as a guest speaker at this years International Women’s Day celebrations and what an experience that was! Around 300 people had come together to celebrate diversity and the role of Women in society. It was truly an amazing gathering of people from across all communities and from all backgrounds. There was terrific entertainment as well as presentations and speakers. It was good to see the Hartlepool WASPI Women there and again yesterday in Westminster for Prime Ministers Questions. It was also good to see other people there like the students from Catcote Academy, the women from the Men’s Shed on Osborne Road, the Heugh Yarners and many, many others. As I said in my speech, this coming together was the real face of Hartlepool and the direct opposite to the image of the people and the Town portrayed in the recent Channel 4 ‘Skint Britain’ programme.
Lastly I mention the Heugh Yarners deliberately because I have always been a big fan of this secretive group of tapestry makers who anonymously festoon the Headland with their artwork and poignant messages. I was therefore honoured when they recently gave me one of their banners celebrating last years 70th anniversary of the NHS which will be taking pride of place in my Office.