50s style Diamond Jubilee celebrations get the green light

HM The Queen with the crowds on a visit to Alnwick earlier this year
HM The Queen with the crowds on a visit to Alnwick earlier this year

PLANS to transform Hartlepool into a 1950s wonderland to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations have been given the go-ahead.

Hartlepool Borough Council will organise the 1950s-themed festival to mark the 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne.

The festival, which will be held at Hartlepool Maritime Experience car park, the Town Hall Theatre and Borough Hall, will take place over the weekend of June 2-5 next year.

Independent councillor Hilary Thompson, portfolio holder for culture, leisure and tourism, agreed the plans.

John Mennear, the council’s assistant director for community services, said the festival idea had really “captured the imagination of people”.

Ideas so far include a film festival at the Town Hall, a large performance tent with a mix of 50s dancing, music and comedy, costumed characters roaming around the site and a classic cars display from the 1950s.

There could also be a 50s diner, a street party for schoolchildren, a 50s-themed exhibition in the Museum of Hartlepool, a fashion show, cookery demonstrations and roving famous look-a-likes including Winston Churchill and the Queen.

There are also plans to reproduce the former music venue, the Queens Rink, at the Borough Hall with a matinee and evening show, while the Wingfield Castle paddle steamer could be transformed into a 50s style rock ‘n’ roll boat.

Coun Thompson said: “Looking at the ideas, I take on board that this is a list and some will happen and some will not.

“But there is something for everyone and I can really see a rocking Wingfield Castle.

“It should be an exciting and fun weekend.

“This will create a feel-good factor during a time of austerity.

“We have to work within the budget and keep the costs down and find as many funding streams as we can.”

It is planned to fund the event using the £64,000 budget set aside for the biennial Maritime Experience festival, plus income from traders and caterers.

Coun Thompson added that she would like to see local catering traders used at the event.

The Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport recently contacted all local authorities outlining the announcement to create a four-day Jubilee weekend next year.

Councils have been told that any events should be funded from existing budgets or by generating income.

On the same weekend there will be a spectacular outdoor concert held at Buckingham Palace and the lighting of 2,012 beacons across the UK and Commonwealth.

The last event to be held in Hartlepool on a similar scale was Dockfest, which was staged in 2009 ahead of last summer’s tall ships event.