‘Carnival day is such a big day for all of us’

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A HEADLAND veteran is looking forward to this year’s carnival festivities - but admits he misses the good old days when Old Hartlepool came to a standstill.

As he approaches his 80th birthday later this year, Bob Robinson has enjoyed more carnivals than he cares to remember.

Bob Robinson's late wife Jenny used to dress up on Parade Day

Bob Robinson's late wife Jenny used to dress up on Parade Day

But despite being the first to admits he is “getting on a bit”, sprightly Bob still plans to dig out a fancy dress outfit to take part in this year’s parade.

Bob, born and bred on the Headland and now living in Durham Street, said: “I’ll always take part in the parade, because it is an important day for us all.

“It’s part of our tradition, and I don’t want to lose that. If the older people can keep that tradition going, then the younger ones will follow.

“I was born in 1934, then when I was five the war started so there wasn’t a carnival while that was on.

“The first one I probably remember was after the war ended, I’d have been 11 then and it was a right celebration.

“I joined the Royal Marines in 1960 and I was away for a couple of years, but apart from that I don’t think I’ve missed one.”

Bob went to Prissick School and then Baltic Street School before moving onto Galleysfield and then training to become a joiner by trade.

He is full of praise for the organisers who try to keep the Headland spirit alive by running the carnival each year.

“They do a good job, and it’s not easy,” added Bob, a dad-of-four who lost his wife Jenny three years ago.

“Years ago, everybody used to take part in it. All of the families would get dressed up and line the streets. I’ve seen it four or five deep all the way along Northgate.

“The parade was great, there used to be horse and carts and then the floats.

“Bertie Cox the coalman used to get his horses all groomed lovely, and the carts would all be done up.

“There were some right characters. There was a fella called Wally Stringer who used to wobble his belly about as he walked down Lumley Street.

“Lads like Philip Heigham, Joe Sanderson, all names I remember. They used to get all dressed up and really get involved in all the fun.

“I’ve got a bag full of fancy dress costumes, and every year I’ll put one on. I’ve been a pirate, a clown, one year I was a horror monster.

“I’m not sure what I’ll be this year though, you’ll have to wait and see!”

He added: “I think every street on the Headland used to have a jazz band, and we would all compete against each other.

“We don’t really have the floats now, people are worried the kids fall off them. I think it’s all to do with health and safety now, but we didn’t used to have that.

“It was a realy community event, and when the parade was finished the pubs would be packed and the fairground rides had big queues.

“Then people would queue up to get the buses back across to West Hartlepool, and we’d all look forward to the next year.”