Attraction’s emergency funding

Heugh Gun Battery volunteer Gerry Raffell pictured painting the gun at the Headland site.
Heugh Gun Battery volunteer Gerry Raffell pictured painting the gun at the Headland site.

A POPULAR tourist attraction has been awarded £7,700 of emergency funding by civic chiefs to help fix a cabin and replace office equipment damaged by a storm.

The Heugh Gun Battery Trust, in Moor Terrace on the Headland, has been granted the funding by Hartlepool Borough Council to help alleviate a short-term cash-flow problem.

John Southcott, chairman of Heugh Gun Battery Trust

John Southcott, chairman of Heugh Gun Battery Trust

In December 2012 a portable cabin within the grounds of the Heugh Battery Museum was badly damaged which led to a lack of “adequate” office space to help with the running of the museum.

The poor weather also had an impact on visitor numbers, which reduced income and led to bosses applying for grants.

Council officers say because of an insurance clause, the Trust had been unable to claim on their insurance and are unable to pay the £2,000 excess required to submit a claim which could also mean higher insurance premiums in future.

As a result the Trust applied for £7,780.72 to cover the costs of repairing the cabin roof, reinstating the office, replacing office equipment, electrical repairs and staff costs.

The Heugh Battery has a 41-strong collection of heavy guns and barrels and is behind only The Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich, and Fort Nelson, in Southampton, in terms of the amount of artillery it houses.

The site, which defended the town against the German sea bombardment on December 16, 1914, has been restored in recent years.

Battery chairman John Southcott said: “We are thrilled to bits to have the support of the council.

“We had a bad storm in December which almost ripped the roof off the cabin and that is something you simply can’t account for.”

Mayor Stuart Drummond approved the emergency funding application to the Trust, a registered charity which runs the Heugh Battery Museum, at a meeting of his regeneration and neighbourhoods portfolio.

Mayor Drummond said: “The Heugh Battery is well known to everybody and is a very popular attraction.

“There is an issue with a damaged roof that needs sorting.

“The finances are fine, it is just a cash flow issue at this moment in time.”

It is the second time the museum has been given a crisis grant after being awarded £5,600 last year to help cover staffing costs.

The money has been allocated from a specific category of the council’s community pool, which is for emergency funding applications.

The aim is to help organisations who find themselves in temporary financial trouble where there is a funding gap, to allow groups who are waiting for funding from elsewhere to continue running a project or to help groups unsuccessful in securing other funding time to look for alternatives.

The maximum grant is £8,000.

Over the past three years, annual visitor numbers to the Heugh Battery Museum have risen by 120 per cent from 3,000 to between 7,000 and 8,000.

For admission prices and more information call (01429) 270746.