Aussies backing our mural campaign

Artist Dave Betson with wife Pat and niece Julia Pargeter and her husband David.
Artist Dave Betson with wife Pat and niece Julia Pargeter and her husband David.

A MAIL campaign to save the town’s iconic Millennium Mural from the axe has won international support.

The popular 78ft mural – which depicts the proud history of Hartlepool – has taken pride of place above the Marks and Spencer store in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre for the past 14 years.

But its future now hangs in the balance after shopping centre bosses say it is being taken down for “essential maintenance” and they cannot commit to re-installing it in the same place.

Creator Dave Betson was the first person to sign the Mail’s petition calling for it to be displayed in another prominent location in town and members of his family visiting from Australia have signed the petition too.

Julia Pargeter, 61, and her husband David Pargeter, 62, are from Melbourne, in Australia, but are currently over here in the UK visiting family. Julia is Dave Betson’s niece and he took them on a tour of Hartlepool yesterday including popping into Middleton Grange to see the mural for themselves.

Mr Betson, 82, from the Fens area, said: “I have had so much support, including from my family, and it is the first thing that people mention when they see me and I would just encourage as many people as possible to sign the petition.

“I really want to see it remain in Hartlepool. Somebody did mention Beamish Museum may be interested but that would be a last resort as it should really stay in the town,” added Mr Betson, who is married to Pat.

Mr Pargeter said: “It is quite rare that you get a piece of art like this that shows a town’s entire history in one mural.

“It depicts the industrial and social history of Hartlepool and the area and it should definitely stay in the town - it would look out of place anywhere else.

“I think it is very striking and couldn’t wait to see it for myself.”

The detailed artwork, which shows iconic images from the town and its history, was presented to the people of Hartlepool by British Steel, who selected Dave to create it, to mark the millennium back in 2000.

Mr Betson, who spent six months creating the piece, has previously spoken of his devastation that it is to be removed from its prominent location, with the talented artist saying he did not deem other options inside the centre as suitable and didn’t want to see it go into storage.

The Museum of Hartlepool, Borough Hall on the Headland and Hartlepool Railway Station, in Church Street, have all been suggested as possible locations. Shopping centre

bosses say they will do everything necessary to help re-locate the prominent mural.

Meanwhile, councillor Jonathan Brash, who represents the Burn Valley ward, has also called for Hartlepool Borough Council to step in to give it a “new home”.

A council spokesman said they were aware that the shopping centre has suggested an alternative location for the mural within its premises adding they have received Coun Brash’s comments in relation to the mural which they are “currently considering”.

l To add your support to the Mail’s campaign, sign the petition below.