Hartlepool’s rugby heritage celebrated in exhibition

Hartlepool Central Library is the venue for the exhibition.
Hartlepool Central Library is the venue for the exhibition.

An exhibition is being held in Hartlepool to celebrate the town’s rugby heritage to coincide with England hosting the Rugby World Cup.

Working with the town’s Rugby Football Union teams, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Museums Service will be holding the display in Central Library in York Road from Tuesday, October 6, to Thursday, October 29, to coincide with the games.

It’s part of a nationwide Festival of Rugby and entry will be free.

Hartlepool has a long and outstanding tradition of rugby union and hosted some of the earliest international touring matches in England, including a match between a Maori team and Hartlepool Rovers in 1888.

This was followed by matches with the All Blacks in 1905, South Africa in 1906 and Australia in 1908.

The exhibition will span from the 1870s through to the 1930s and will include rare items connected with the earliest Dominion sides in Great Britain.

On show will be an outstanding array of early printed material about local rugby from the Museum Service’s Robert Wood Collection, including the only surviving copies of many early fixture posters, team selection sheets, match programmes, tickets, rules of the game, advertising handbills and ground plans.

Among a host of other memorabilia will be some of the league cups which are still played for today.

Councillor Kevin Cranney, chair of the council’s regeneration services policy committee, said: “People in Hartlepool are passionate about their rugby, and we are delighted to be working with the town’s local clubs to spread awareness of the game’s rich history in the town.

“With so many early and rare items on show, the exhibition is sure to be fascinating not merely for rugby fans but also for people with a general interest in the heritage of our town.”

Chris McLoughlin, honorary secretary of Hartlepool and District Rugby Football Union, added: “The collection which will be on show is probably unique and gives a marvellous insight into the early development of the game in Hartlepool.

“The exhibition will be a real celebration of some of the town’s early sporting achievements and, we hope, will also be a source of inspiration for our young rugby stars of the future.”

For more information about the exhibition call 01429 272905.