The barking parrot, the end of a hospital and the disappearing moustache - Hartlepool stories from 1984

We’d be barking if we didn’t share this 1984 news story with you – and eight others too.

Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 10:54 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 10:54 am

Because that was the year that a parrot was having a ball in one Hartlepool house, much to the annoyance of the family’s Jack Russell dogs.

Who’s a naughty boy then? Skippy the parrot was when he learned how to bark and then went further. He also learned how to howl like a dog so he could get the family’s pooches into trouble.

It all happened in the Race household and Mrs Denise Race said at the time: “We cannot shut him up. He is for ever talking, whistling the Laurel and Hardy theme tune, or getting out of his cage to grab food. Now he has taken up barking and whining like the dogs.”

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It all made the news in 1984.

Have you had a pet which always got up to no good?

Skippy was joined in the 1984 news by retired miner Jim Smith who raised £200 for charity by parting with the handlebar moustache he’d had for 22 years.

The 55-year-old raised money for the Ethiopian famine appeal.

And staying on that subject, an Ethiopian Appeal Fund was set up by the Mayor of Hartlepool, Coun Mick Lennon, to help the plight of the millions of people hit by drought and starvation.

Skippy the parrot whose howling got the family dogs into trouble.

The fund got off to a good start with a £240 cheque from youngsters on the YTS scheme at Middleton and £150 was presented by Canon David Ogden the Rural Dean of Hartlepool on behalf of the parish of Greatham.

The Ethiopian appeal wasn’t the only great cause that year.

Charity walker Martin Lund, 24, completed a 1,000-mile trek for a Hartlepool wheelchair dance team.

He hitch hiked to and from Lands End in only three days. The money went towards the Jemma J wheelchair dance team based at Thornhill school.

Middleton Grange Shopping Centre which, for the first time in 1984, opened shops until 8pm once a week.

There was the dawn of one new era and the ending of another in 1984.

For the first time, shops in Middleton Grange were opening at 8pm once a week.

A brand new organisation, the Middleton Grange Traders Association, had just been formed and it was the group behind the great line-up of live entertainment to accompany the extra shopping time in the lead-up to Christmas.

Elsewhere in town, the Duchess of Kent visited Hartlepool’s new St Hilda’s Unit at the General Hospital.

The launch of the Ethiopian Appeal Fund in Hartlepool.

Around 400 guests gathered in marquee in the hospital grounds and while the guests on the marquee enjoyed a buffet lunch, the Duchess sat down to a meal in the day room with 32 guests, among whom was consultant Roger Kirby. He was representing the senior management team.

Staff in the kitchens cancelled their leave 24 hours before the visit to cope with the catering.

Sadly, 1984 was also the year when St Hilda’s Hospital closed in Hartlepool. It was so fondly remembered that 400 staff turned up for a reunion 10 years later.

There was lighter news too as 1984 saw a VIP visitor to the town. Barbara Knox, known to millions as Rita in Coronation Street, was a hit when she met an adoring audience in town. Were you among them?

What are your memories of Hartlepool back then? Tell us more by emailing [email protected]

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Retired miner Jim Smith who raised £200 for charity by parting with the handlebar moustache he’d had for 22 years.
Barbara Knox with two young fans during a visit to Hartlepool.