Historic gun battery faces a new battle and bosses need your help

A historic Hartlepool site is under attack once more - from the North East weather which is battering its eye-catching exhibits.

Sunday, 26th August 2018, 2:57 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th August 2018, 3:05 pm
Heugh Gun Battery manager Diane Stephens.

Major attractions at the Heugh Battery are in need of restoration work and Hartlepool Mail readers are being urged to help.

The Saracen, Ferret, Rapier, and Chieftain are all affected by the impact of being on the seafront.

The Saracen, another of the exhibits - at the Battery on the Headland - which is in need of refurbishment.

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They stand on a site which holds a unique place in British history. It stoutly defended the coast when German ships launched the bombardment of Hartlepool in 1914.

More than 1,000 shells were launched at Hartlepool and 130 people died but the men of the Battery bravely stood firm as the defence against the fire.

Now, though, comes a new battle more than 100 years later.

Battery manager Diane Stephens said: “Our outdoor exhibits are getting into a shocking state and we could do with quite a lot of money to help us to stop them rusting away.

The Battery's Rapier display.

“We have ongoing maintenance issues with many of the large objects we have on display outdoors as they are under constant attack from damp, salty air and wind being so close to the sea.

“Many of the objects are in need of new parts and quite a lot of welding work before we can begin to paint them to protect them against the elements.

“We need to buy specialist paints to help to protect against the rust spreading on all our outdoor objects. It is a bit like the Forth Road Bridge, though. Once we have finished, we have to start again.”

One example is the Ferret which, in its service days was a British armoured fighting vehicle.

The Ferret armoured vehicle, pictured at the Heugh Battery.

It was designed for reconnaissance work and was produced between 1952 and 1971.

But Diane said the Battery has been told it would cost between £3,000 and £5,000 to refurbish that one vehicle alone.

She added: “We could do an awful lot with £50,000.

“We rely on visitors coming to the museum, paying entrance fees and purchasing from the coffee shop to help with the upkeep of the museum as a whole, but we could really do with some extra donations to help us tackle some of the hardest hit exhibits on the site. If anyone would like to make a donation please contact us, or come along and chat to the staff and volunteers here.”

The Chieftain which provides a stunning spectacle at the Battery, but is in need of refurbishment.

Generally, said Diane, “The summer has gone really well, visitors from farther afield have gone up this year.

“Lots of people are coming and enjoying Hartlepool as a whole and managing to fit in a visit to us too. It is really good to hear how much people have enjoyed visiting the town, often they are surprised at just how nice it is.”

The Battery, in Moor Terrace, has a great pool of volunteers although officials would still love to hear from anyone wanting to join the ranks.

Officials would also love the people of Hartlepool to spread the word about the attraction on their doorstep so that more people pay a visit.

The site of the Heugh Gun Battery has been a military position since the 17th Century, and holds a unique place in British history.

The museum stands on the site of the only First World War battlefield in Britain and was involved in the bombardment of Hartlepool in 1914.

The guns of the battery engaged in combat when German warships off the coast fired more than 1,000 shells on Hartlepool, killing a total of 130 people and wounding more than 500 others.

The Heugh and Lighthouse batteries bravely defended the towns and saved many lives during the North East bombardment.

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

To donate, volunteer or find out more about the Battery, visit the website at http://www.heughbattery.co.uk or contact (01429) 270746. The Battery can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.