Dan Dare costumes, egg flip tipples and getting up at 5am - Christmas Day in 1955 Hartlepool

Student nurses of Hartlepools Hospital who toured the wards singing carols.
Student nurses of Hartlepools Hospital who toured the wards singing carols.
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Festive traditions may change down the years but they’re always heartwarming.

Reflecting on Christmases past, we turn the clock back to Hartlepool in the 1950s.

The temporary sorting office in St George's Hall, West Hartlepoool, set up to sort out the massive levels of Christmas post and parcels.

The temporary sorting office in St George's Hall, West Hartlepoool, set up to sort out the massive levels of Christmas post and parcels.

Not long now before you get those last-minute parcels posted to family and friends.

Back in 1955, Hartlepool’s Christmas post levels were massive. In fact, two extra sorting offices had to be set up.

One was in St George’s Hall in West Hartlepool where a small army of university students was drafted in to help as sorters.

Another was in St Luke’s Hall where Anne Redhead, Shirley Burton, Ann Corner and Margaret Armstrong did their bit by providing umpteen cups of tea.

Some of the Hartlepools children in the streets had been up with their toys since the early hours. One Hartlepool boy was up at six o’clock with a brand new football looking for someone to play with and he did not have to look long

Northern Daily Mail reporter, 1955

If you were out looking for last-minute presents, Robinson’s store had wool jersey dresses for £3 and 16 shillings. If you wanted a Christmas tipple, egg flip was selling for nine shillings and thrupence.

Elsewhere in town, Hartlepool General Hospital’s baker Mr GJ Stevens and his assistant Miss V Hooper were busy preparing 20 decorated Christmas cakes for the wards.

Come Christmas Day, children played with new presents. That year, the must-have gift was a Jet Morgan spaceman suit or a Dan Dare costume.

The Northern Daily Mail reporter at the time said: “Some of the Hartlepools children in the streets had been up with their toys since the early hours. One Hartlepool boy was up at six o’clock with a brand new football looking for someone to play with and he did not have to look long.

“Others had roller skates and were getting in some early practice in the empty streets.”

On the night-time, 205 people attended a midnight church service in Blackhall while 428 took Communion in Horden.

The five hospitals in Hartlepool were full to the brim with seasonal goodwill.

At Hartlepool’s Hospital, a choir of student nurses led by Sister E.Waudby sang carols on every ward and took a piano with them. When they had to move between floors, the piano took the lift.

As it was Christmas Day, smoking was allowed and the Mayor and Mayoress of Hartlepool Alderman RS Boswell distributed, sweets, cigarettes and fruit to patients.

At Cameron Hospital, children got a visit from Santa Claus and played with presents. At the Grantully Maternity Home, mums were woken at 5am on Christmas morning with a cup of tea. At the General Hospital and Brierton Hospital, patients were allowed visitors.

What are your favourite Christmas memories? Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk