Don’t be court out - give us your memories

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CAMPAIGNING community centre workers today urged the people of Hartlepool: “Come and tell us about our building’s past.”

Staff at Hartlepool Peoples Centre, in Raby Road, are compiling a booklet on the events, people, and stories which have shaped the venue down the years.

It should be a fascinating project as the centre was a police station and cells in its previous life.

The building only became a community venue about 26 years ago when two journalists formed the Hartlepool People group at a time when the traditional shipbuilding and steel industries were in decline in the town.

However, the venue has been around for much longer than that.

Jean Lathan, a volunteer and member of the centre’s board of directors, said: “We think this place dates back to 1900 and it used to be the police station. It was also a courtroom and that still looks very much like it did in those early days.

“All the original panelling is still there. We want to get the history of the building on record.”

Jean’s husband, Gordon, a fellow Peoples Centre director, said: “We are doing this now because the building has been refurbished, and it would be nice to record what went before.

“We want to make a display in the hallway. We have lots of wall space in the centre and we want to put up a display of anecdotes.”

Gordon added: “We have had people who have come in and said they were in the courts in the old days. They have told us where the judge sat and things like that, but we want more.

“We know that the cells are downstairs and we believe there was a door which was used to bring in the ‘naughty boys’.

“The cells are completely refurbished now and that’s where the out-of-school hours club is based. It is a really active functioning service for the community.”

The Peoples Centre is now a thriving centre which is a base for line dancing, a sewing club, art project, photographic club, table tennis, drama group, day nursery and adult education.

It also offers street dance classes, fitness sessions, Zumba dancing and support for people with alcohol problems.

Anyone who can help with memories of its former days should contact (01429) 861144 or email hartlepoolpeoplecentre@hotmail.co.uk