Gun battery makes plea for cash help

Heugh Gun Battery
Heugh Gun Battery

BOSSES at an historic attraction are hoping to secure emergency council funding to safeguard its short-term future.

The Heugh Gun Battery Museum Trust, in Moor Terrace, on Hartlepool’s Headland, needs £5,600 to cover staffing costs until the end of March.

Despite rising visitor numbers the museum has a funding shortfall due to increasing costs and not enough income from the cafe, gift shop and events.

Museum bosses say if the funding is not granted then three jobs are at risk and the site’s education programme with town schools could be curtailed.

Despite that bosses say they are “confident” the site will be sustainable into the new financial year.

The funding application has been submitted to Hartlepool Borough Council’s community pool and will be considered by the cabinet committee next week.

If approved, it would contribute towards the salary costs of the manager, an outreach worker and kitchen assistant plus other running costs.

Battery chairman John Southcott said: “The winter period is always bad for museums.

“We have had some unexpectedly high bills and we are hoping the council will step into the breach. If we don’t get the funding we could be facing redundancies and we would have to curtail some of the school activities.”

Mr Southcott said annual visitor numbers had risen by 120 per cent over three years from 3,000 to between 7,000 and 8,000.

It costs £40,000 a year to run the museum site which comes from a mix of income and grant support.

Several bids for future funding have been submitted to other organisations and Mr Southcott was “confident” about the long-term future.

The Heugh Battery has a 41-strong collection of heavy guns and barrels and is behind only to The Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich, and Fort Nelson, in Southampton, in terms of the amount of artillery it houses.

A report by John Mennear, the council’s assistant director (child and adult services), said: “The Heugh Gun Battery Museum has applied to the Community Pool for crisis funding of up to £5,600.

“The funding will contribute to the core costs of the project including the salary costs of a manager, an outreach worker and a kitchen assistant and utility and other running costs.”

If the funding is approved it would leave a balance of £40,645 in the community pool should any other groups find themselves in a financial trouble before the end of the financial year.

Mr Mennear added: “Any grant approved will enable the museum to go into the new financial year in a better position, to enable them to secure funding from other sources to sustain the services they provide for the community as a whole.”

The site, which defended the town against the German sea bombardment on December 16, 1914, has been restored in recent years.

For admission prices and more information call (01429) 270746.

Senior councillors will meet on Monday, March 19, at the Civic Centre, Victoria Road, at 9.15am, to discuss the issue.