Hartlepool MP Mike Hill’s plea to council chiefs: ‘Put Heugh Battery Museum truly on tourism map’
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has urged tourism chiefs to help put the town’s historic Heugh gun battery museum firmly on the map.
Mr Hill has called on Hartlepool Borough Council and the Tees Valley Combined Authority to do more to advertise and promote the Headland museum which is the only First World War battlefield site in the UK.
It comes after a campaign, backed by the Mail, to raise £5,000 to ensure the Heugh Battery Museum’s survival was a success.
Swedish metal band Sabaton raised over £4,000 by making and selling special T-shirts.
And around 200 people, including Mr Hill, took park in a 16-mile Tommy 2 Tommy walk in aid of the museum just over a week ago.Mr Hill said: “Following the massive turnout for the 16-mile sponsored walk in support of the Heugh Battery and the campaign led by the Hartlepool Mail it surely is time that the museum is well and truly put on the tourist map. “I have always been personally disappointed that this hidden gem has never really been properly publicised, for example it never appears in any literature about places to visit in the North East and it certainly isn’t signposted off any of our major highways.”He said the level of public support for the site, which played a vital role defending the town during the devastating German bombardment of 1914 that claimed 130 lives, shows the need for more joined up thinking by tourism chiefs.Mr Hill added: “The Heugh Battery clearly is an integral part of our tourism offer and it should be promoted as such by the council and the Tees Valley Combined Authority.”Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen praised the museum after visiting it for the first time last month.
Mr Hill said he hopes the battery will be included in a 2025 Tees Valley City of Culture bid.
But before then he urged the Hartlepool and Tees Valley authorities to put brown tourism signs for the museum on the A19 and other major roads into Hartlepool.
“After all it is the only surviving World War One battlefield in the country and we need to properly commemorate that,” said Mr Hill.
Hartlepool Borough Council said it recognises the site’s local, national and international significance and has an ongoing commitment to help promote the museum.
A spokesman said: “The council acknowledges the museum’s importance and we are committed to supporting it in whatever way we can to ensure that it remains available for future generations to experience.
“The museum has, for example, been able to save around £16,000 since we helped it secure small business rate relief back in 2012, and we have also provided additional direct funding of around £16,000.
“We are currently working closely with the museum to help it develop a business plan and to consider ways in which it might be able to attract external funding.”
The council provided three free buses to help travel to Seaham for the start of the Tommy 2 Tommy walk.
It added: “We have a continuing commitment to help promote the museum and, indeed, our Hartlepool Events Guide 2019 – thousands of copies of which have recently been distributed via primary school children across the town – includes a section on the museum and, in particular, its Peace Party event on June 30.”
The day will celebrate 100 years since the official end of the First World War.
Mayor Houchen also says the combined authority is stepping up efforts to promote the museum.
He said: “When I was at the museum last month, I was truly amazed by what I saw and by the dedication of everyone involved running and supporting the battery museum. Over the coming weeks and months Enjoy Tees Valley, our new tourism service, will be making a big push to promote the museum to local residents and visitors so that even more people can discover this hidden gem.”