The day the Kaiser’s cruisers shelled the Hartlepool Mail

NEARLY 100 years ago, the lives of everyone in Hartlepool was changed forever.

Next year, the town will commemorate 100 years since the bombardment.

In the first of a three-part mini series, Chris Cordner takes an early look back at arguably the biggest event in Hartlepool’s history.

THEY were probably the 53 most remarkable words ever printed in the Mail.

In one short, front page explanation, we told our readers on December 16, 1914, how sorry we were that we could not bring out a normal edition of the paper.

But then again, there was a genuine reason why we couldn’t. Our offices had been shelled by the German Navy.

During the hour’s bombardment of the town, a shell had ripped through the Northern Daily Mail offices, hitting the printing presses as it landed.

Somehow, and against all the odds, we still got a newspaper out that day.

And because of the day’s events, it was a limited edition in every way possible.

For the first time in 99 years, we print it in full below. The youngest victim was six months. The oldest was a 68-year-old.

News in 1914 was a mixed affair.

On a front page which would be unrecognisable in today’s world, precautionary messages of war sat next to an advert about a forthcoming beauty competition at the Empire Theatre in Hartlepool.

At the top of the page was a notice to the people of Hartlepool. It said: “The civil population are requested, as far as possible, to keep to their houses at present. The situation is now secure.

“The group leaders of each ward will advise in case of any further danger.

“Any unexploded shell must not be touched.”

It came from Mayor Fryer who concluded “God Save The King.”

Yet right next to it was a reminder for people where they could get the ingredients for their Christmas puddings.

If you got along to Oliver’s Stores in Tower Street, you could get orange and lemon peel for seven pence, currant for sixpence a pound, and ground almonds for one and six a pound.

And get along to M Robinson and Sons for 49 per cent discounts on all goods. That included tobacco pouches, jewellery cases, glass bowls, and purses.

New suits could be bought for one shilling a week from the Northern Clothing Company.

Once you were attired in your new gear, you could get along to the Grand to watch The King’s Romance, being performed twice nightly.

Or as an alternative, the Empire had live reports on Scott in the Antactic - for those people who did not want to watch the beauty competition.

All this and more was on a packed front page.


“We must apologise to our readers for a very incomplete paper. Owing to a shell bursting in the office, our battery of linotype machines was put out of service.Various other plant was damaged and the building partially wrecked.

“We hope tomorrow to have the greater part of our plant in working order.”