Hartlepool’s unique Heugh Battery Museum has launched an appeal for vital support to help keep its doors open.
The site of the only First World War battlefield in the UK is trying to raise £5,000 and also encourage more people to visit so that it can continue to tell its important story to future generations.
When Hartlepool came under attack from German warships on the morning of December 16, 1914, killing 130 people and injuring 500 more, the battery returned fire making it the only battle to be fought on British soil during the war.
In 1999, the derelict site on the Headland was brought back to life as a museum, thanks largely to £315,000 of National Lottery cash and volunteers.
But museum bosses say they are struggling to raise the £3,500 they need every month to preserve its collection and pay staff and bills.
Manager Diane Stephens said: “Because we close over the winter and visitor numbers are very small we are really struggling at the moment to reach that figure for the monthly running of the battery.”
A fund has been started on the website JustGiving.com
Diane added: “It’s not just about the money, which we do really need.
“It is also about raising the profile of the museum and making more people aware that we need visitors.”
Diane said there are fewer available grants than previously to help pay towards the museum’s core running costs, with it having to rely on school visits and volunteers who help keep the site’s story alive.
She added: “We are the only World War One battlefield in the UK, so it’s international military importance is massive. It is also hugely significant to local history with the bombardment and loss of civilian life in Hartlepool.
“It is so important for the local people to have a place where they can remember and so that future generations can have that story told to them because they can go to the actual place where it happened.
“You can stand where the men stood to defend the town and imagine what it must have been like for the soldiers on that December morning.
“It would be such a shame to lose it. If we don’t raise the £5,000 it is a possibility.”
The museum is currently open at weekends until June 3 when it will be open on Fridays and Mondays as well.
People can support the fund at the Heugh Battery Museum Appeal page at www.justgiving.com