A NEW 15ft memorial to the hundreds killed or seriously injured in the Bombardment of Hartlepool could be unveiled at a ceremony to mark the attack’s 100th anniversary.
Hartlepool Borough Council is looking to erect a permanent stone memorial to commemorate the part played and the price paid by Hartlepool during the atrocity that took place on December 16, 1914.
The bombardment resulted in 118 deaths and more than 400 people injured.
Councillors will meet tomorrow to discuss the plans for the granite or magnesian limestone memorial on the Headland, which would cost around £60,000 and be part of wider proposals to commemorate 100 years since the start of the Great War.
There is not an exact location yet but it is expected to be on land near the Heugh Gun Battery, which defended the town during the attack, and the Lighthouse on the Headland.
The plans for a new memorial which will feature images based on James Clarke’s painting of the Bombardment and a brass information panel have been welcomed by town leaders.
There is an existing tablet near the Battery to mark the place where the first shell from the leading German battle cruiser struck, while the names of those killed are on a plaque in Redheugh Gardens.
The plinth would be an additional memorial dedicated to the Bombardment which rocked Hartlepool.
Every year a host of civic dignitaries and organisations come together to mark the anniversary of the Bombardment of Hartlepool at the Memorial Gardens at 8.10am on Monday – marking the exact moment when the Imperial German Navy ships began firing 1,150 shells at the town.
At the annual service wreaths are laid and local schoolchildren release 37 balloons to remember the children who were killed.
But this year there are larger-scale plans including a formal service at the Battery, an ex-servicemen’s parade, the memorial unveiling, a civic event at the Borough Hall including a Bugle band and an outdoor performance.
Members sitting on the council’s regeneration services committee will discuss the plans.
A report by David Worthington, head of culture and information, said: “It is proposed that a memorial to those killed in Bombardment of the Hartlepools is created on the Headland to be opened on 16th December 2014.
“The memorial to be erected in a plinth-style with decorative reliefs that would adorn the faces of the plinth would be based on the James Clarke painting ‘the Bombardment of the Hartlepools’.”
Hartlepool Council successfully applied to the Arts Council for a total of £394,775 over two years to help fund the projects across the Tees Valley. It will pay for exhibitions, special events and commemorative performances over the next two years
The Bombardment Memorial is estimated to cost between £50,000 to £60,000 and the council is asked to underwrite that cost so work can start.
Officers say the “expectation” is that the memorial cost will be covered by commercial sponsorship and through existing resources.
Mr Worthington added: “This project will enable Hartlepool to be at the centre of the World War One commemorations in 2014.
“It will give the young people of Hartlepool a sense of the affect that the First World War had on their home town in one of the most momentous periods of 20th century history.”
• The Mail is marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War throughout 2014.
A series of commemorative supplements will be published in the paper from April onwards with coverage continuing until the centenary of the Bombardment of Hartlepool in December.
If you have Great War memorabilia or a story about a local relative ho served in the conflict then please contact our newsdesk on (01429) 239380.
The council’s regeneration services committee will meet on Thursday, March 20 at 9.30am at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.
TOWN leaders and historians have welcomed the plans for a new memorial to commemorate the Bombardment of Hartlepool.
John Southcott, chairman of the Heugh Gun Battery Trust, said: “It is vitally important for the town, and also the wider region, that we remember the Bombardment of Hartlepool and this new memorial would be very welcome.
“The Bombardment is a key part of the heritage of the Headland and Hartlepool and this is an important year with a lot taking place to commemorate it.”
Labour councillor and ceremonial mayor, Stephen Akers-Belcher, said the new plinth would be an appropriate memorial.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “This is a highly appropriate way to commemorate the Bombardment of Hartlepool and to remember those that sadly died or were seriously injured.
“This is also a good opportunity for young people to have a permanent memorial of what happened during a very sad time in Hartlepool’s history.
“I do think this is appropriate.”
Tug Wilson, secretary of Hartlepool Combined Ex-Servicemen’s Association, said: “The Headland was the place where the first soldier was killed on British soil by enemy action and they obviously feel it is worthwhile noting the Bombardment of Hartlepool in this way.”