Thousands see Olympic Torch Relay

OLYMPIC fever swept through the streets of Hartlepool and East Durham yesterday as thousands lined the route of the torch procession.

After months of preparation, residents were out in force as the torch was carried through the area on Day 30 of the UK-wide relay ahead of the summer games.

People of all ages got into the spirit of things, waving flags and clapping and cheering as the torchbearers enjoyed their well-deserved moment in the spotlight.

The torch entered East Durham at 9.45am, and after making its way through Peterlee, Horden and Blackhall it came along the Coast Road into Hartlepool.

The flag-waving continued throughout the torch’s town visit, and after an hour-long break at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience over lunch, it made its way along Stockton Street and out towards Billingham on the A689.

Bosses at Hartlepool Council estimated that 23,000 had lined the route to see the historic event.

While the torchbearers were the main attraction, the Olympic cortege included a party bus, vans carrying scores of volunteers, and teams of representatives from various Olympic sponsors geeing up the crowds.

Despite the clouds gathering, thankfully the rain held off to ensure everyone had a day to remember.

The torch began its 70-day journey back in May from Land’s End, and will cover an 8,000 mile route which was designed to allow up to 95 per cent of the population to see the flame.

More than 8,000 people will each carry the flame somewhere along the way, with the relay visiting over 1,000 towns, cities and villages.

The torch is due to be taken into the Olympic Stadium on Friday, July 27 for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

See today’s Mail for more reports and pictures from the historic day.