Day that war came to town

A UNIQUE exhibition has brought some of Hartlepool’s most important relics of war under the same roof.

Artefacts from the bombardment of the town have been put on show in a six-month exhibition which was launched today at the Museum of Hartlepool.

David Worthington by the bombardment painting that forms part of the exhibition at the Museum of Hartlepool

David Worthington by the bombardment painting that forms part of the exhibition at the Museum of Hartlepool

It includes the most famous depiction of the event - the original painting called The Bombardment of the Hartlepools by James Clark which shows soldiers and civilians reacting in shock as the Germans shelled the town.

Also on show are remnants of German shells, the uniform of a soldier from the Durham Light Infantry, and even an alarm clock on which time stopped forever when it was hit during the attack.

Medals, badges and a military bugle also add to the exhibition which is called Voices of the Bombardment.

It marks the darkest day in the town’s history.

At just after 8am on December 16, 1914, the German warships Blucher, Seydlitz and Moltke opened fire on Hartlepool. The 40-minute pounding of the town left 127 people dead and more than 400 injured.

Nearly 1,200 shells were fired by the German attackers. The Durham Royal Garrison Artillery and the Durham Light Infantry defended the town under the command of Lt Colonel Lancelot Robson whose portrait is also part of the exhibition. David Worthington, the head of culture and information at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “The bombardment is perhaps the most singularly important day in Hartlepool’s history. Hartlepool, as a town, was changed forever.”

He described the importance of the painting by James Clark and said: “It was completed in 1915 and became a propaganda piece to encourage people to join the Armed Forces, and to give to various campaigns.”

Mr Worthington said the children of the town especially needed to be aware of the exhibition and The Bombardment of the Hartlepools as it was “a huge part of their history, and they will have known absolutely no-one who was alive during World War One”.

The exhibition runs until March 15 next year at the museum in Maritime Avenue which is part of the Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience,

The display is part of the Tees Valley Remembering Our War project. Other exhibitions with a war theme are on the way at the Central Library in York Road, during November and December.

For more details on Voices of the Bombardment, contact the museum on (01429) 860077.