Battery charge: Mail campaign launched to help save Hartlepool’s Heugh Battery Museum

The Mail today issues a call to arms to help save our Heugh Battery Museum.

Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 1:23 pm
Heugh Gun Battery manager Diane Stephens

We are launching our Battery Charge campaign to help the museum raise vital cash it needs in order to survive and educate future generations about the key role it played in defending the town during the devastating bombardment of Hartlepool in 1914.

As well as appealing for money, we are backing museum bosses in encouraging more people to pay them a visit in order to ensure its long-term future.

One of the guns at Heugh Gun Battery

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Diane Stephens, manager of the Heugh Battery Museum, said: “We are so grateful to the Mail for picking this up and being so supportive to something that is really a massive part of the town.

“We are incredibly grateful for anything that will raise the profile of the museum and let more people know we are here.

“It is use it or lose it.”

Crowds begin to disperse at the end of the Headland beacon lighting ceremony. Picture by BERNADETTE MALCOLMSON

As reported in Tuesday’s Mail, it costs £3,500 a month to run the museum on the Headland.

Diane said there are fewer grants available to apply for meaning they increasingly rely on the goodwill of their volunteers and school trips.

But it is not enough.

The annual Bombardment Remembrance Ceremony at Hartlepool Headland. The Durham Pals stand by the memorial. Picture: TOM BANKS

Erected in 1860 to help defend the port of Hartlepool, the Heugh battery stands on the site of the only First World War battlefield in Britain.

When German warships suddenly rained over 1,000 shells on the Hartlepools on the morning of December 16, 1914, the Heugh and Lighthouse batteries bravely defended the towns and helped save many lives.

One of the battery’s soldiers, Private Theo Jones, of the Durham Light Infantry, became the first British soldier to be killed by enemy action on home ground in the war.

A tablet marking the spot where the first shell landed and Private Jones was killed is in place just outside the battery museum.

Private Theo Jones

The Heugh closed in 1956 and today is restored to show how it would have looked in the First and Second World Wars.

It houses a comprehensive collection of British artillery including naval, field and anti aircraft guns, many smaller arms in its armoury, uniforms plus a cafe and shop.

The museum is divided across three levels with the underground magazines, the parade ground and main museum and Observation Point tower looking out to sea.

It has just two part time paid members of staff while volunteers act as tour guides, run education workshops, run the cafe, reception and maintain the exhibits.

Every December, the museum takes part in the annual Wintertide Festival and civic commemorations on the anniversary of the bombardment when cadets, dignitaries, and school children parade to nearby Redheugh Gardens.

And last November, it was the starting point for a parade during the lighting of a beacon on the Headland to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Heugh Gun Battery Hartlepool

The museum is currently open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am–4pm.

To donate to the online fund go to the Heugh Battery Museum Appeal at www.justgiving.com To volunteer or find out more about the battery, visit the website www.heughbattery.co.uk, call (01429) 270746 or find it on Twitter and Facebook.