Unique archive documenting Hartlepool’s history to be preserved for the future

The Hartlepool Mail's Image Editor Frank Reid (left) and Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher examine a few of the items in the archive.

The Hartlepool Mail's Image Editor Frank Reid (left) and Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher examine a few of the items in the archive.

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A unique collection of images charting the changing face of Hartlepool has been preserved for the future - by an organisation dedicated to conserving the past.

Guardianship of the Mail’s photographic archive - over 30,000 pictures and negatives - has been presented to Hartlepool Council’s Museums Service following the paper’s recent move to new premises.

The old Mail offices at West House, Clarence Road.

The old Mail offices at West House, Clarence Road.

“The collection is not only a unique part of the Mail’s long and proud history, but a unique record of the Hartlepool area too,” said editorial director Joy Yates.

“We were determined to secure the archive’s future and keep it in Hartlepool. We were therefore delighted to present it to the Museum Service for safe-keeping.”

Mail snappers have captured the highs, and lows, of Hartlepool’s history for more than a century - from street scenes to ship launches and promotion pushes.

Much of the archive dates from the 1950s to the 1990s, but it also features material from as far back as the Victorian era.

The collection is not only a unique part of the Mail’s long and proud history, but a unique record of the Hartlepool area too.

Editorial director Joy Yates.

The donation includes:

* 34 filing cabinets of prints covering subjects such as schools, crime, civic events, award ceremonies, local people, sports, businesses and entertainment.

* 28 boxes of 1950s glass plate negatives, including a host of wedding photos.

* 68 drawers of black and white negatives.

* Ten ledgers documenting advertising records for the Mail from 1887 to the mid-1940s – rare survivors of early North East newspaper history.

“The images chart decades of important events and daily life in Hartlepool and, thanks to the support of the council, they will be preserved for posterity,” said Joy.

Museum staff are now to conserve, research and electronically copy the vast collection - a substantial project which is expected to take several years.

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, vice-chair of the council’s Regeneration Services Policy Committee, said:

“The Hartlepool Mail photographic collection is one of the most important sources for the recent history of the borough that the council’s Museums Service could ever hope to acquire.

“For many decades the Hartlepool Mail has been at the forefront of recording Hartlepool’s news, milestones and achievements, both large and small.

“In donating this impressive collection, the Mail has done a very great service to the people of Hartlepool, ensuring that this fascinating record will remain in the town.

“The council will in turn play its part, preserving the archive to museum standards and making the items accessible electronically for future generations of Hartlepool people to enjoy.”