Looking back at shipyards

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THE story of an famous Hartlepool shipbuilding family and the ships it built is being celebrated in a series of events.

To mark 50 years since the closure of the Gray’s shipyards, Hartlepool Libraries Service has organised the events that will be exploring the ships and the people who built them in an exhibition of photographs and other memorabilia from today until Thursday, June 6.

The free exhibition, at Hartlepool’s Central Library in York Road, is open Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 6pm and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm.

The Central Library will be hosting a talk on ‘The Shipbuilders’ Houses of Hartlepool’ by historian Edward Bunting tomorrow from 7.30pm that will focus on some of the town’s finest houses.

Also, people who have memories of, or memorabilia from, Gray’s Hartlepool shipyards are invited to share them for posterity at one of two special roadshows.

The roadshows are on Thursday, May 30, in Central Library in York Road from 2pm to 4pm and on Thursday, June 6, onboard the paddle steamer Wingfield Castle at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience from 10am to 2pm.

Any photographs, documents or other memorabilia from the yards which people bring along will be copied on the day for inclusion on the ‘Hartlepool History - Then and Now’ website - a community archive building a personal record of the life and times of the town and its people over the decades.

Also, Hartlepool Art Gallery in Church Square is currently hosting an exhibition of some of the works of art which were donated to the town by the Gray family, which runs until Saturday, June 1 and entry is free.

In its heyday, the Gray empire won the famed Blue Riband Prize for the highest output of a shipyard in Britain an unbeaten six times between 1878 and 1900.

Diane Marlborough, Hartlepool Libraries’ Reference and Information Manager, said: “The role played by the Gray shipbuilding dynasty in Hartlepool life was impressive and extensive and we are inviting people to join us in celebrating those achievements at these special events.

“We also hope that people will come along to one of the two special roadshows to share their memories and memorabilia of Grays so that they can be preserved for future generations.” For more information visit www.hartlepool.gov.uk/libraries