Call for Hartlepool’s Millennium Mural to be housed in new art college

Dave Betson with images of his mural.
Dave Betson with images of his mural.

A COUNCILLOR has called for the iconic Millennium Mural to be re-located at an arts college when it gets rebuilt.

Councillor David Riddle, Putting Hartlepool First spokesman, believes the under-threat mural could be re-located from its current position in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre to the Cleveland College of Art & Design - which is poised for a £9.3m investment.

CANDIDATE: David Riddle, Putting Hartlepool First candidate for Hart Ward

CANDIDATE: David Riddle, Putting Hartlepool First candidate for Hart Ward

As revealed by the Mail, major changes are on the way for the college’s Hartlepool campus, as part of plans to bring in more students from all over the country.

It includes the main college site in Church Square, built in the late 1960s, being demolished and creating at least 45,000 sq ft of purpose-built space to replace it in the vicinity.

Coun Riddle believes the new site could be the perfect location for the mural, which depicts the proud history of Hartlepool and is the subject of a Mail campaign to save it.

Art college bosses have stressed they are keen to explore if it is possible but stress the new build is a few years down the line.

The Mural has taken pride of place above the Marks and Spencer store in the town’s Middleton Grange Shopping Centre for the past 14 years, but its future now hangs in the balance after shopping centre bosses say it is being taken down for “essential maintenance”.

They cannot commit to re-installing it in the same place.

In an email to all councillors, Coun Riddle said: “I am writing with regard to the ‘Millennium Mural’ which is being removed from the town centre.

“To come straight to the point, given that we are soon to have a brand new 45,000 sq ft art college in town, surely the answer to where to re-home the Millennium Mural is staring us in the face.

“Let’s propose that its incorporated into the new building in some way.

“Perhaps working its way around the walls of the entrance lobby or somewhere in the building where it can inspire the future generations of artists we are hoping to attract to the town.

“All party politics aside, that seems like an appropriate location to me.”

Dr Jill Fernie-Clarke, vice principal (Academic) at the college, said: “We would be delighted to explore if we could find a home for the Millennium Mural in our new building.”

Meanwhile, council bosses say they are still working to try and find a suitable new home for the mural.

Officials at Hartlepool Borough Council stepped in and offered to find a suitable new home for the popular 78ft mural after the Mail launched its campaign to save it.

A council spokesman said: “We are still in discussions with the owners of the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre to see what options may be available and we are also still actively considering whether we have any suitable sites.”

More than 500 people have so far signed the petition, with creator Dave Betson himself collecting 250 signatures for the campaign, which calls for the mural to be displayed in another prominent location.

The Mail has also been inundated with people taking the time to sign the petition and post the slips into us.

Mr Betson, 82, who is married to Pat, said: “The mural is definitely worth saving.”

People can add their support by signing the petition in the Mail’s reception in Wesley Square, Hartlepool.