Was this the best start ever to a New Year in Hartlepool?
It was the best news to start the year with.
Hartlepool found out 26 years ago this week that it was to get a Royal visit.
The Queen and Prince Philip were coming to town on the Royal yacht Britannia to officially open the new marina.
The occasion was also expected to be a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Hartlepool being granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I to make it into a Free Borough.
The Mayor of Hartlepool in 1993 was Coun Vic Burton and he said at the time: “We could not be provided with better news for the start of the year.
“This is a marvellous boost for the town and its people.
“We are very honoured that Hartlepool has been chosen and I know the people of the town will provide a great welcome for the Royal party.”
It was the first visit by the Queen to Hartlepool since 1977 and the town was buzzing.
Council leader, Coun Bryan Hanson, said it was “terrific news” and it would “enable us to demonstrate all the efforts that have gone in recent years to improve Hartlepool.”
MP Peter Mandelson described it as a day to live in the memories of generations of Hartlepool people. “No one can provide a welcome like the people of Hartlepool. They have done it before and I am sure they will do it again.”
It had already been quite a week for the town. Days earlier, Pools had knocked Crystal Palace out of the FA Cup with a 1-0 home win in the Third Round.
It was the biggest giant-killing act of the round and, even better, it was beamed live throughout Europe as well as being shown on Match of the Day on the BBC.
The good news didn’t end there either. Experts predicted the town’s property market was about to enjoy its biggest boom in years.
A spokesman for Johnson Carmichael, the town’s newest estate agents at the time, said the week before Christmas had been chaos with people ‘buying houses instead of presents’.
“It has continued since the New Year,” he added.
And work also started on a £20million transformation of the town centre, including the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.
The shopping malls were going to be covered in, new shops were due to be built, and general improvement works were also due to be carried out.
It was a welcome turnaround for a centre which had lost Binns a year earlier and which had seen Woolworths reduce the size of its store.
The £20million works also included a new look for Victory Square, and a new road which would be lined up for the Marina development.
It was a great time for Hartlepool and we would love your memories of it.
What do you remember of the 1993 period in the town and the changing face of Hartlepool?
We would love to hear from you. Get in touch by emailing [email protected] Lets share the memories.