School scoops £8,900 to dig up past

Teacher Deborah Boffy pictured with school pupils
Teacher Deborah Boffy pictured with school pupils

A SCHOOL is celebrating a £8,900 Lottery grant to uncover tales of historic Hartlepool.

St Joseph’s RC Primary School, in Musgrave Street, is one of the first organisations in the UK to receive a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) All Our Stories grant.

The money will enable the school to put resources into a project called Hartlepool Hidden History, which will enable it to discover more about unusual aspects of the town’s history and what makes it the place it is today.

In particular, the shipbuilding, steelmaking and railway industries will be delved into.

The school will then be able to share the information pupils glean with others.

Deborah Boffy, who is leading the project, said: “It’s amazing that we have been awarded this grant and we can’t wait to get started.

“We are proud of where we live and are excited about discovering the extraordinary and unusual aspects of our past and sharing our finding with others.”

She added: “The pupils of St Joseph’s RC Primary School and their parents and carers want to research the unusual history of the town in recent times, with particular focuses on how the town played a key role in the industrial revolution, and became renowned for its shipbuilding, and importing and exporting of goods.

“Other industries, such as steelmaking and the development of the railways, also had a profound influence on the town. Sadly, nearly all of this has gone.

“We feel it vital to enable young minds to learn about this past important heritage, how it shaped Hartlepool and indeed had an impact on other parts of the world.

“A key theme will be unearthing the unusual hidden and quirky heritage aspects.”

The new small grant programme – launched earlier this year in support of BBC Two’s The Great British Story – has been designed as an opportunity for everyone to get involved in their heritage.

With HLF funding and support, community groups will carry out activities that help people explore, share and celebrate their local heritage.

The popular TV series, presented by historian Michael Wood and supported by a programme of BBC Learning activities and events, got thousands of people asking questions about their history and inspired them to look at it in a different way through the eyes of ordinary people.

Michael said: “We British love our history, and no wonder.

“It is really tremendous that people of Hartlepool have been inspired to get involved to tell their own story and to dig deeper into their own past.”

Ivor Crowther, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “We are indeed a nation of storytellers and we want to explore and dig deeper into our past and discover more about what really matters to us.

“This is exactly what the grant will do for the Hartlepool Hidden History as they embark on a real journey of discovery.”