Memorial day to commemorate the Bombardment of Hartlepool

(centre front) Dr Elizabeth Pender (University of Leeds) and Susan Connor (Friends of Stranton Cemetry) with community groups involved in organising a special event to commemorate the Bombardment.
(centre front) Dr Elizabeth Pender (University of Leeds) and Susan Connor (Friends of Stranton Cemetry) with community groups involved in organising a special event to commemorate the Bombardment.

A MASSIVE commemorative event reflecting on Hartlepool’s role in the bombardment will involve some 40 town groups.

Hartlepool Remembered: Legacies of the Bombardment 1914 is a free, day-long event ahead of the town’s official tributes to the German shelling of the town.

It takes place at Hartlepool College of Further Education, in Stockton Street, from 10am-9pm on Thursday, December 11.

The project is led by Hartlepool-born Dr Elizabeth Pender, a researcher on Leeds University’s Legacies of War project, and Susan Connor of the town’s Friends of Stranton Cemetery group.

A varied programme of music, art, poetry, talks and displays will explore the history of the bombardment, its importance within the global events of 1914, and how it helped to shape the development of Hartlepool to the present day.

Local voluntary and community groups and businesses are contributing through stalls, exhibitions, photographs and memorabilia with unique exhibits such as the Bombardment Coffin and Bicycle Hearse, an eco-coffin printed with photographs of the bombardment damage, pulled by a bike, from the town’s Co-operative Funeral Service.

Other highlights include a war tank-themed float from The Annexe, which took first prize in this year’s Headland Carnival parade.

There are also free art workshops for visitors to create centenary mementos.

Displays of historical maps will give visitors a chance to trace their own connections to the families, streets and neighbourhoods of Hartlepool in 1914.

Interviews with local survivors of the bombardment, recorded more than 30 years ago and now kept in the Leeds University Liddle archive, will be played publicly for the first time allowing visitors to hear witness accounts of the day of the shelling.

Original work by British and German artists Theresa Easton and Dieter Loechle will promote the day’s main theme of reconciliation.

The huge 1915 Bombardment Memorial Scrapbook, on loan from the Hartlepool Museum archive, will be on show.

As well as photographs of the extensive shell damage across both the Hartlepools, it also contains personal messages sent to the town from across the world and newspaper articles that give a unique insight into the international response to this historic event.

There will be performances and displays by local schools, youth groups, the seniors’ drama group Echoes based at Hartlepool Carers and the Heugh Battery Writers Workshop.

After “Lights Out” the main commemorative event will be at 7pm, where victims of the bombardment will be remembered through art-based tributes created by local youngsters.

The final performance will be at 7.30pm when Hartlepool Male Voice Choir and Hartlepool Ladies Choir will perform.

A visitors’ book will record visitors details and memories which will form the basis of a 2015 Bombardment Centenary Memorial Scrapbook to be lodged in public archives for future generations.

Dr Pender, 51, a senior lecturer in classics at Leeds University, set up the initiative with award-winning poet Martin Malone, who was a fellow pupil at English Martyrs School.

Her great-grandmother Elizabeth Carroll lived through the bombardment with her family in Hartlepool’s Old Town.

She said she wanted to tell her family’s story and help others tell theirs.

“This is a huge community partnership event,” she added.

“We want to bring the expertise of researchers at the University of Leeds and use it for the benefit of the people in Hartlepool in the anniversary of the Bombardment.”

Susan Connor said: “It’s been a great opportunity to get involved in something to mark such an historic event.”

For more details visit http://worldwar1trenchart.wordpress.com/hartlepool-remembered or to contribute call Dr Pender on (0113) 3433538.