MEMORY LANE: Wynyard announcement the best news for years

That was the week
That was the week

TWENTY years ago this week Wynyard was the big story.

Not only were the first houses unveiled in the first new village built in Britain in the entire 20th century, but also 3,200 jobs were announced at a new hi-tech factory.

THE headline in the Hartlepool Mail was Absolutely Fabulous! and it was described as “the best news for years”.

President of the Board of Trade Michael Heseltine flew to Korean capital Seoul to announce that the far eastern country’s electronics giant Samsung was setting up shop at Wynyard.

He said the firm would invest £600m to build a factory initially making computer monitors and microwave ovens, with 900 jobs created the following year and a further 2,300 in 1997.

It was estimated a further 2,500 jobs would be created indirectly for local construction and supply firms.

The announcement came two days after dignitaries from all over the North-East gathered exactly 20 years ago today, on October 15, 1994, for the opening of the first houses in the new village at Wynyard.

The £580m development featured a range of properties, priced from £85,000 to £163,000.

An impressed Hartlepool Mayor, Coun Gwyneth Hanson, said: “I think the houses look wonderful.

“The village looks very traditional and I am sure many people from Hartlepool would love to buy a property here.”

A key figure in both developments was Sir John Hall, then chairman of Newcastle United FC as well as Cameron Hall Developments, which built Wynyard Village in partership with Ideal Homes (Northern) and owned most of the land the Samsung factory was to be built on.

Pictured by the Mail outside one of the homes in the village the tycoon said: “I am delighted to see the dream I had when I first bought this land become reality.”

As for the Samsung development, Sir John told the Mail: “I don’t think anybody realises quite the impact it is going to have on Teesside and in Hartlepool in particular.”

Sadly, his words would come true in a way he did not expect, when Samsung pulled the plug on the factory after less than ten years, in January 2004, when it employed 425 people, having peaked at around 1,600.

The company blamed high labour costs in comparison with Slovakia, where production was moved to.

Contact Andrew Levett by emailing andrew.levett@jpress.co.uk or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

PLANS to bring in parking charges at Hartlepool General Hospital – now known as the University Hospital of Hartlepool – were described by the Mail as “one of the hottest issues in the town for years”.

The proposed charge was £78 a year for full-time staff, plus £5 for a computer card for the barrier, but domestic worker Linda McCormick, whose take-home pay was £123 a week, told the Mail: “They’ll not get a penny from me.

“I don’t think we should have to pay to come to work.”

* HOSTS were announced for the BBC broadcasts of the new National Lottery, due to start on November 1.

It was revealed that the first show would be hosted by Noel Edmonds, with Anthea Turner and Gordon Kennedy to take over for subsequent editions.

* THE Royal Navy’s last diesel-powered submarine, HMS Unicorn, was mothballed just 15 months after first entering service, due to the end of the Cold War.

* MAIL columnist Margaret O’Rourke was disappointed by the fate of The Watcher, John Atkin’s winning entry in a competition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of West Hartlepool, which she described as “unloved and unwanted” outside the former Gray Art Gallery.

“When the the great head was unveiled outside the gallery it was said it would only be a temporary resting place,” wrote Margaret, adding there had been no moves to re-site it to its intended home of the new Hartlepool Marina.

She went on: “Since the Headland has seen precious little development from City Challenge perhaps Hartlepool Council should offer the head to the Headlanders.

“Then both could share the distinction of being left out in the cold together.”

The Watcher has yet to be moved, 20 years later.