Military vehicle enthusiasts help steer Heugh Battery appeal towards success as they turn out to support Hartlepool museum

Museum visitors were able to see vehicles used in conflict as a team of enthusiasts put their pride and joy on show in support of the appeal to keep the Heugh Battery Museum open.

Saturday, 20th April 2019, 18:50 pm
Updated Saturday, 20th April 2019, 18:59 pm

Members of the Durham and Tees Valley branch of the Military Vehicle Trust turned out with 22 of their Jeeps, tanks, armored cars, staff cars, trucks and ambulances today, with most dating back to the Second World War.

They were joined by the 29th Field Kitchen, a Soviet re-enactment group, the Time Travelling Tea Tent and a 1940s singer, as well as scores of people who pulled on their vintage 1940s and 1950s outfits for the occasion.

Bob Dunkley is one of around 40 members of the vehicle group and has also recently signed up as a volunteer for the Heugh Battery, which is in a race against time to raise £5,000 by the end of next month to secure its future, with the half-way mark now reached.

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A series of fundraisers have been held already, with further events lined up to boost the fund.

Visitors were able to have a look around and inside the vehicles and speak to their owners about their place in history.

Bob, who lives in Elwick, took along his own three Jeeps, an armored scout vehicle and a Dodge ambulance, said: "This has been a one off, but we are now looking to make it an annual event and we're also looking to put on some sort of re-enactment on, maybe for D-Day this year.

"I'm a volunteer for the Battery and we just thought if we can help raise some awareness and some funds, we could get our mates and their vehicles here.

"We want to raise funds for this historic place and the equipment they have got here and it needs our support and on top of that, we want to get people through the door and pay their money.

"It also gives us the chance to show off our vehicles and this is quite early in the year for us, so this has been a bonus event.

Vehicles used by the Armed Forces spent a day on show at the Headland site in support of the appeal to raise 5,000 to keep the attraction open.

"People are in awe of all the stuff they have seen and that it's in such good condition and want to know where it's all come from."

Among those who visited the museum during the display were Stan and Gail Morson, both 64, from Houghton, who had been passing by on a walk.

Stan, who was a member of the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery and the 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, recognised a number of the exhibition pieces from his time in the forces.

The couple plan to take along their daughter Lisa, 43, who is a flight sergeant in the RAF, and her son Cameron, 10, next they visit.

Bob Dunkley, a volunteer at the Heugh Battery and a member of the Durham and Tees Valley branch of the Military Vehicle Trust.

Stan said: "I would most definitely like to see this place keep going.

"It's the first time I have been and it's great, it's a neat place, nice to walk around."

Gail, who was making a return visit to the Headland attraction, added: "It's really interesting and this is something which is close to both our hearts.

"It's good that people can come along, see these pieces and ask questions."

Situated on the site of the only First World War battlefield in Britain, the Heugh Battery was built in 1860 to help defend the port of Hartlepool and it went on to play a key part in defending the town during the bombardment of the area in 1914.

Diane Stephens, manager of the museum, said she and the team were "beyond delighted" with the support given to the day by other groups, as well as those who visited to have a tour around.

A model used by the RAF was one of 22 vehicles put on show by the team.

"It just means the world to use because it's people who are coming sometimes for the first time and they are going away and telling people that we are here, which is what we need.

"Then we have museum regulars who are delighted to see things which are new, like this, and it's all about spreading the word about what we are about.

"We want to thank all those who are helping to raise money, but we don't want to have to raise money this way, we want people to keep coming to visit."

The museum is open from 10am to 4pm tomorrow and on Bank Holiday Monday.

Diane Stephens, manager of the Heugh Battery Museum, was overwhelmed by the support for today's event.
A singer entertained the crowds during the afternoon.
Many visitors wore vintage outfits for the occasion, joining military vehicle owners for the event as they shared their love of history.
A range of vehicles were put on show during the exhibition, with further events in the pipeline.