Major anniversary plans revealed

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DETAILS of how Hartlepool intends to mark the 100 year anniversary of the Bombardment have been revealed.

On December 16, 1914 the town was attacked by the German Navy and at least 114 civilians, nine soldiers and seven sailors were killed - with 500 others being seriously wounded.

Bombardment of Mary Street in Hartlepool on December 16, 1914

Bombardment of Mary Street in Hartlepool on December 16, 1914

This year marks 100 years since the attack and officials at Hartlepool Borough Council have revealed how they plan to mark the anniversary.

As well as the annual morning service of remembrance there are also plans for a parade, an event inside the Borough Hall on the Headland and an outdoor performance on the evening.

A new 15ft memorial to the hundreds killed or seriously injured will also be officially unveiled and it is planned for the memorial to be located on land behind the cannon next to the Heugh Gun Battery, on the Headland.

Councillors sitting on the council’s regeneration services committee will finalise the plans next week and officers have proposed the following timetable:

l 8am to 9am Formal service at the Heugh Gun Battery.

l 9am to noon Ex-Serviceman’s march around the Headland.

l Noon to 1pm Memorial unveiling by Lord Lieutenant and planting of 130 ceramic poppies and wooden crosses by schoolchildren from St Aidan’s Primary School and the reading of the names of those who died as a result of the Bombardment.

l 1pm to 5.35pm The mayor’s consort presents the Tipperary Club Event at the Borough Hall for 350 invited guests.

l 6pm to 7pm Outdoor performance on Town Square for up to 2,000 ticketed guests - at least 1,650 free tickets will be available to the public via the Tourist Information Centre at Hartlepool Art Gallery from October.

Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, said in a report: “This was the first point of the British mainland to be attacked in the First World War along with the towns of Scarborough and Whitby.

“This was singularly the most momentous day in the history of the town and a series of events are planned to mark this sombre occasion.”

Ahead of the anniversary, safety concerns have been raised about the scale of the event due to the large number of serving and former military personnel parading around the Headland on that day.

Tug Wilson, of the Hartlepool Combined Ex-Service Association, appeared in the Mail earlier in the summer to raise his concerns.

As a result, councillors will also meet next week to discuss three options.

Option one is to abandon the military element involving parades and begin the Hartlepool Borough Council event at 12pm with the Lord Lieutenant unveiling the new memorial and the laying of 130 ceramic poppies and wooden crosses bearing the names of the 130 people who died.

The military role would be to invite a representative from the four services that lost personnel – Durham Light Infantry, Royal Artillery, Royal Navy and the Royal Engineers – to present their service badges to be incorporated in the memorial.

Alternatively the council could reduce the military parade by only involving the four services who lost personnel in the action of 16th December 1914 or to hold the full military parade as planned in the original programme.

The regeneration services committee is asked to consider the three options and make a decision on the nature of the event.

Councillors will meet on Thursday, September 18 at 9.30am at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, Hartlepool.