VIDEO: Remembering the Great War in Hartlepool

THE Heugh Gun Battery was the ideal backdrop as a fascinating project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War was launched.

Next year will mark 100 years since the Germans launched a devastating attack on the town when 119 people lost their lives during the Bombardment.

Hartlepool Mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher pictured with civic dignatries at the Heugh Battery.

Hartlepool Mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher pictured with civic dignatries at the Heugh Battery.

The war continued for four long years and now - thanks to a huge £394,775 grant from the Arts Council England’s Renaissance Strategic Support Fund - residents, children, and community groups can discover the exact impact the First World War had on Teesside and the people in the area.

Yesterday, civic dignitaries from across Teesside and history experts gathered at the Heugh, on the Headland, to launch the project.

A cannon was fired to signal the launch of the exciting initiative following a speech by Mayor of Hartlepool councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher.

Coun Akers-Belcher described the project as “fantastic” and said it has even attracted Royal attention.

He said: “I’m aware Her Majesty The Queen is aware of the project and has took an interest in Hartlepool in particular which demonstrates what an amazing initiative this is.”

The huge pot of cash provided by Arts Council England has allowed Hartlepool Borough Council’s culture and information team along with partner organisations from across the five Tees Valley boroughs in the Tees Valley to set up a series of exhibitions with amazing artefacts on show, hands-on activities and commemorative performances culminating in one in Hartlepool on December 16 next year - the exact day of the 100th anniversary of the Bombardment.

Events allowing people to share stories of their own family’s involvement in the social and military side of the war and learning opportunities for schools, youth and community groups will all be held.

The majority of the activities and events will start next year, but bosses and volunteers have been working hard behind the scenes over the past few months to get the ball rolling.

Mark Simmons, museum manager at the Heugh, said: “The question I would ask people is what did your family do during the First World War?

“And you will find that the majority of people have absolutely no idea.

“But this project is going to allow people to find out so much more and not just through museums but in libraries, community centres, schools.

“We are very lucky to have received this funding.”

David Worthington, head of Hartlepool Borough Council’s culture and information team, said: “We have a generation of young people now who have no connection to the First World War in that they don’t know anybody who lived through it.

“But it’s something that can’t be forgotten and this project will really do this period of history justice.”

Coun Akers-Belcher added: “It’s really important to keep the legacy of the First World War alive.

“This allows people to do that, it allows everyone to get involved in an exciting, poignant and fitting project and it’s a fantastic way to get young people involved.”