The year of the rogue crow in Hartlepool

Cameron Hospital in Hartlepool.
Cameron Hospital in Hartlepool.

Who remembers the year when a rogue crow, a much-loved maternity unit and a rundown picture house made the news.

It was 1985 and there were plenty of dramas happening in Hartlepool.

Powlett Road evacuees.

Powlett Road evacuees.

Pupils at Throston School will have plenty of reason to recall it. It was the year when a single crow ran a reign of terror over the school and attacked more than 20 children in six weeks.

Our story at the time said: “It terrified children by trying to land on their heads.”

The real-life horror story came to an end when the bird was enticed down with food and then shot by a council marksmen.

The story added: “Council chiefs acted quickly when they were informed the carrion crow was hovering around the school’s playground again.”

Council chiefs acted quickly when they were informed the carrion crow was hovering around the school’s playground again

Hartlepool Mail reporter, 1985

One mum, whose own daughter had been attacked, said: “All the children will feel a lot safer. Obviously, I am sad the crow had to be killed but I don’t think we had much choice.”

There was drama too in Powlett Road 32 years ago this month when a major gas alert was sounded.

It led to houses, factories and a school being evacuated and evacuees heading to Henry Smith School where the WRVS and social services were providing food.

Five hundred workers from the John Collier factory were among those told to leave the area by police.

One Powlett Road resident - Mrs Vera Rutherford - said at the time: “I saw the schoolchildren and the workers running down the road and shortly afterwards a policeman came to my door and told me to leave immediately.”

Yet after the initial drama, the number of people who headed to Henry Smith was reduced when relatives of the people in the area, heard of the drama and took their loved ones away to safety.

One of those who did head to the school was Sheila Caden of Howbeck Lane who had just picked up her three-year-old grandson Michael.

She said at the time: “He was fast asleep as I woke him up and told him we had to go.”

Stan Green was the man in command of the operation and said everyone involved had been wonderful.

“The whole community is involved in something like this, right down to the voluntary services who have done a marvellous job,” he said at the time.

Cameron Hospital in Hartlepool was also in the news as it received a £1m boost towards plans for it to handle extra maternities, linking in with plans to convert Thorpe Maternity Hospital in East Durham into a unit for the elderly.

Elsewhere in town, the news was not so good for Hartlepool’s last cinema which had closed two years earlier.

Fair World bosses had hoped to sell the Raby Road building for leisure purposes but they took it off the market when a buyer could not be found.

Is there an aspect of 1985 news you would like to share?