The man who came to Hartlepool for his holidays for 55 years running
Who needs foreign beauty spots when you can spend your holidays in Hartlepool.
Certainly not Leonard Ambler who, in 1988, was celebrating 55 years of spending his annual summer break in town.
The Huddersfield man was asked if he was ever tempted to go elsewhere. He replied: “What have they got there that I can not get in Hartlepool.”
Today, we take a look at the man who first began visiting town as a 24-year-old and was still coming 55 years on.
But what was the big attraction?
“I enjoy coming here because of the environment and the hospitality,” he said.
Leonard would stay at various places in Hartlepool and, on the day we caught up with him for an interview in 88, he had just returned from a bracing walk at Seaton Carew.
“I have never seen it look more beautiful,” he said and was told it had just won an award. “I am not surprised, it is wonderful.”
Leonard’s love affair with the town began in 1933 when he and his wife Marjorie visited the town.
He said in 1988: “Money was short in those days and me and Marjorie used to come here and stay with her cousin and her husband, and then they would come and stay with us.”
He got to see all aspects of Hartlepool life and remembered: “We used to walk down Burbank Street and there used to be kiddies running around barefoot and begging.”
He added: “Things have changed a lot though. The only part of the town which is really the same are the streets around St Hilda’s.”
Leonard was described as something of an expert on Hartlepool and stayed all over town. He would hop on buses to visit parts of the town as well as occasional trips to other parts of the North East including Marske and Redcar.
He remembered going to see Max Bygraves whne he made his debut at the Empire Theatre in Hartlepool.
“He was at the bottom of the bill then, not the top,” he said in 1988.
But if anyone was to criticise Hartlepool, Leonard was quick to defend the town.
“It really annoys me when the television shows Hartlepool as if it is a place that is down and out,” he said. “I see it as having a sort of middle-class citizenship.
“The houses here are as good as you would find anywhere.”
He admitted that he had been asked to go aboard with his son and daughter.
But he turned it down to go to the place he loved the most - Hartlepool.
By 1988, Leonard was the only one of the original four still alive.
But even after the loss of his wife, he was still determined to continue his pilgrimage to Hartlepool.
“I will keep coming back as long as I am around,” he said.
Who remembers the man who thought of Hartlepool as a top destination for visits?
And is Hartlepool worthy of the tag as a holiday destnation.
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