Former Mayor is laid to rest

Bryan Hanson
Bryan Hanson

FRIENDS, family and former colleagues came together to celebrate the life of a former councillor, mayor and Honorary Freeman of Hartlepool.

Bryan Hanson, OBE, was laid to rest yesterday after a colourful funeral service attended by Hartlepool MP Iain Wright and chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council, Stephen Akers-Belcher.

Mr Hanson, who became a councillor in 1963 and chaired several committees on Hartlepool Borough Council before becoming leader in 1974, died in hospital on Sunday, February 17 after a short battle with pneumonia.

He was 81.

Council chief executive Dave Stubbs was also among the mourners, which included serving and former councillors and colleagues, and the lead eulogy was read by former chief executive Brian Dinsdale.

Mr Dinsdale, who held the post between 1988 and 2003, worked with Mr Hanson at the county council and Hartlepool Borough Council.

The service was held on Friday at St James Church, in Shilbottle, Northumberland, where Mr Hanson had retired to and mourners were asked to dress in colourful clothing.

As well as being an active member of the Teesside Development Corporation, which masterminded the massive Hartlepool Marina project, Mr Hanson chaired the City Challenge programme which saw more than £100m invested to transform the town centre.

Speaking during the service, Mr Dinsdale, said: “Bryan Hanson had a very fulfilled life and was immensely proud of all of his family.

“He played a very prominent role in the development of Hartlepool and there are lots of people who are working in Hartlepool today because of what Bryan Hanson did for the town and for me, that is his greatest legacy.”

Mr Hanson, a former Cleveland county councillor, also played a pivotal role in the battle to regain independence for Hartlepool which resulted in the abolition of the county council in 1996.

The former Dyke House councillor served as mayor of Hartlepool in 1979-80 and finally bowed out of local politics in May 1999.

Hartlepool-born Mr Hanson is survived by his wife, former Hartlepool councillor Gwynneth, 82.

The pair, who moved to Shilbottle four years ago, had a son, Ron Hanson, 56, four grandchildren, Sophie Hanson, 29, Lottie Hanson, 32, Martha Williams, 27, and Toby Hanson, 24, and a great-grandson, 19-month old Iori.

Mr Hanson was made deputy lieutenant of Durham County in 1998, the same year the council made him an Honorary Freeman, and an Honorary Alderman in 1999.

He was awarded the OBE by the Queen in 1980.

Hartlepool Borough Council held a minute’s silence at the full council meeting on Thursday and flags at the civic centre were flown at half-mast yesterday.