When Britain was watching West Hartlepool

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IN the days when advertisements and national news filled local newspapers, the Northern Daily Mail broke the trend.

West Hartlepool came together in the fight to support the First World War effort and we made sure it got the headlines.

Over the last two weeks, we have reported how everyone from the rich and famous to children in our schools raised money to “feed the guns.”

But what did the Hartlepool Mail’s predecessor do to support the effort?

Here, in the third of our four-part look back, we focus on the Mail edition of February 8, 1918.

l “Britain is watching West Hartlepool,” said the headline.

Underneath it, a second headline reported that a tank called Nelson was touring Britain - persuading towns to raise money for the troops.

It said: “Time is short. Roll up today and follow Nelson to his greatest victory.”

The people of Hartlepool knew, if they could raise more money than any other town in the country, they would win a prize of a tank called Egbert which was returning from the Front.

The campaign shaped our people to such an extent that more than £2m was raised. The headlines that day were uncharacteristically dramatic.

“East, West, North and South. The word has gone out that the little town on Teesside has beaten the whole country and is out for still bigger things,” said yet another one on a crammed front page.

A look at that day’s paper showed you where you could buy bonds and tickets.

From Joseph Kelley the clothier in Stockton Street, from Denton Isaac the hairdresser in Surtees Street.

From jeweller Jacob Broady in Church Street and the Hartlepool Steam Laundry in Raby Road and Church Square.

But the same front page had little reminders of how war was affecting life at home.

People were being asked to order their copies of the Northern Daily Mail because a “paper famine” meant casual copies would no longer be available.