The day that Hartlepool's adopted ship bowed out - and jobs galore were coming to town

What are your recollections of Hartlepool life 35 years ago?

Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 11:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 11:54 am

Perhaps these snippets of news from the time will trigger your memory, including the day Hartlepool’s adopted ship was ‘paid off’.

Naval top brass turned out in force to pay a fond farewell to Hartlepool’s adopted ship. HMS Abdiel sailed into Portsmouth harbour in 1987 to be saluted

by 9 of her former commanders.

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Life in Hartlepool 35 years ago.

The Royal Navy’s only surface minelayer had seen 21 years’ service and the 1,500-ton vessel was going to be particularly missed in Hartlepool where she had

links going back 20 years.

Abdiel bowed out in style when she arrived in Portsmouth. She was escorted into port by the minesweepers Bronnington and Nurton, as a Royal Maritime Auxiliary tug cascaded water into the air from her fire hoses.

A crowd gathered at the dockside to welcome her in.

HMS Abdiel on a visit to Hartlepool.

Afterwards, the former captains toasted the ship. Spokesman for the office of the Flag Officer at Portsmouth, Jim Allaway, said normally three or four

former commanders attend such functions.

He said it most unusual for nine to be present. It was almost all of her commanding officers.

It was a poignant moment in Hartlepool’s history but there was a much more upbeat note emerging from Graythorp.

Players from the Mr Chris and RHM football teams at their charity match in 1987.

The shut down Graythorp Fabrication Yard was to be brought back in business.

The yard’s owners, John Laing ETE, secured a £14 million order to build a massive 29,000-tonne concrete gravity sub-structure for a major North Sea gas


The project would create 250 jobs over the 16 month period of the work with 150 of them on site,including many former Laing employees.

St Hilda's Hospital which was a familiar sight for people in Hartlepool.

“The contract means a reopening of the Graythorp Yard and job opportunities for local people,” said Oster Bayne, Laing ETE’s business development director at the time.

Elsewhere, Hartlepool firm Associated Paper Rolls, on the Longhill Industrial Estate, won an order to convert 400 king size reels of paper into 185 million tickets. The company converted giant reels of paper into cash register rolls for shops and supermarkets.

Hartlepool’s derelict and vandal-hit St Hilda’s Hospital was to be demolished.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s development control sub-committee passed plans to flatten the unlisted buildings in the Headland complex.

But the friarage to the rear of the 1930s hospital, as a grade two listed building, was to be left untouched when the bulldozers moved in.

There was plenty of other news across town:

A four-year programme of restoration lay ahead for the Wingfield Castle paddle steamer - berthed only a few hundred yards from where Hartlepool’s last project, HMS Warrior, had once stood. International athlete Tony Morrell tried out the newly formed fencing class at Hartlepool Sixth Form College sports hall in his official capacity as sports motivator with Hartlepool Borough Council. Hartlepool women from town companies Mr Chris and RHM played a fundraising football match at the Hartlepool Power Station playing field and all money raised went to Alice House Hospice. Hartlepool worker Bill Green was celebrating working 50 years for the same company. He was just 14-years-old when he joined engineers Dixon-Barker, working his way up from apprentice to his job in 1988 of chief estimator.

Who remembers how much money was raised?

What are your memories of Hartlepool in 1987? Tell us more by emailing [email protected]

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