Author challenges 'myths' around famous Hartlepool tourism poster in new book

It is one of the most well known images from Hartlepool’s history.

Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 4:45 am
Author Ian Lightfoot with his book and a copy of the original poster. Picture by FRANK REID
Author Ian Lightfoot with his book and a copy of the original poster. Picture by FRANK REID

A poster advertising Healthful Hartlepool to promote tourism has been reprinted on postcards, mugs and original copies are much sought after.

Now author Ian Lightfoot, of Wynyard, has written a new book delving into the story behind it and puts forward evidence to challenge a number of accepted facts about it.

The poster shows the Headland and features images of Blackhall Rocks, the Heugh Lighthouse and St Hilda’s Church.

Author Ian Lightfoot with his book. Picture by FRANK REID

It boasts of “natural beauties unsurpassed” and “the most bracing sea air in the kingdom”.

Retired Ian, 64, got the idea for the book after visiting a framing shop in Hartlepool which had a number of the framed posters.

He said: “When I looked at the lithograph paper I could tell it was over a hundred years old.

"It led me to want to find who were the designers, the printers and the story behind it.

"I grew up on the Headland and know those places that are on the poster.

"For the last five years I have been tracking down evidence disproving a lot of untruths and reveal what I believe to be the truths around the poster.”

Ian said the poster was produced during the Edwardian period when poverty was high and there was a drive to boost Hartlepool’s tourism.

Among the main issues he challenges is that it was designed by Hartlepool-born artist Frank Henry Mason.

"Nobody’s heard of the artist,” he said.

Ian, who previously worked in art and design in education, also challenges the idea it was a “railway poster”, adding: “Whereas it was put on railway platforms it wasn’t paid for by the railways at all.”

He visited Teesside Archives and museums in his research.

Ian added: “While I’ve got compelling evidence I haven’t got absolute proof.

"The book hopefully challenges somebody who might know better to come out and say ‘you’ve got that wrong’.”

Healthful Hartlepool: The Untold Story of the Commission of a North East National Graphic Icon During the English Edwardian Era, is out now priced £9.99.

It is on sale at Hartlepool Art Gallery, and Ian is due to hold signings at the Heugh Battery Museum, on the Headland, from December 17-19.

Alternatively email: [email protected]

Proceeds will go to town food banks.

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