Published 7 November 2018
Its a throw away world, or so we are are told. In many ways I suppose its true. Here today, gone tomorrow can be used to describe so many aspects of modern life, public perception and attention spans, forever changing while relentlessly pursuing the dreams of tomorrow.
So its reassuring to note that the memory of events which took place in the early part of the last century can continue to raise the emotions and passions of people today. In a few days it will be one hundred years since the end of the 1st World War. After four years of bitter fighting, the armistice was set for Monday 11th November 1918 at 11:00am. The guns continued to spit fire and death, and the killing continued right up to the o'clock. Then for the first time since 28th July 1914 the battlefields were silent. Over 885,000 British service men and 109,000 civilians were recorded as killed in the war, a total which meant every community in the country suffered loss.
On the 17th of December 1921 the Earl of Durham John Lambton, unveiled a bronze statue of a winged figure "Triumphant Youth" located just off Cliff Terrace. The memorial was dedicated to the servicemen and civilians killed in the First World War, including those lost in the naval bombardment of Hartlepool in 1914. Later this was extended to those lost in the Second World War and more recent conflicts.
It can only be a testament to the respect still held in the community for those who sacrificed for their country that changes to the memorial can still stir such controversy. Recently councillor Mike McLaughlin seems to have decided that access to the memorial needed to be improved to provide better access for disabled people. The plan involves creating three new paths across the center grass area surrounding the memorial.
This would be part of a £77,000 investment for the headland which is claimed will enable wheelchair access for those looking to pay their respects. To drive the project forward councillor McLaughlin ran a social media campaign providing maps and offering two options on the material to be used for the paths, asking people which they would prefer.
Objectors point out that the memorial is already easily accessible and over the many years it has been there no one has had any difficulty with access. Concerns have also been raised by a lack of consultation over the proposed changes and the impact it will have on the ascetics of the garden. The view being that the money could be better spent on other projects as the memorial is fine as it is now.
The proposal is still in the planning process and was due to be discussed on the 30th October by the Headland Parish Council. The coming Remembrance Service may provide anyone who wishes to express a view on the proposed changes to do so. Even with councillor McLaughlin taking a back seat at the moment, the above link will still allow you to leave your comments on the councils planning portal.
Published 7 Nov 2018
Long before early warning systems such as Fylingdales were operational, the military still needed to know what was 'out there' (as illustrated by the tragic bombardment of Hartlepool and Scarborough in 1914 by German forces).
An answer to this problem of pre-radar intelligence was found via the use of acoustic mirrors which were deployed to act as 'magnifying ears' whereby incoming aircraft were identified by the sound of their engines. This programme was led by Dr William Sansome Tucker, and resulted in a chain of listening posts being built at strategic points along the coastline of Britain. The methodology of linking these stations to pin point aircraft was useful in the development of early radar systems; increasing aircraft speeds in the 1930s highlighted the mirrors' limitations and the Chain Home project ensued. .
Although Hartlepool's sound mirror has long since vanished (it is believed to have been located near Clavering School), there are others which can still be found standing along the coastline. One of the nearest of these (which can be accessed easily by the public) lies just behind Sunderland's Fulwell Mill. This features in Andrew Grantham's excellent web site, a link to which is given below - it's fascinating to see how such a simple method of defence led to sophisticated systems in use today.
This acoustic mirror is easy to visit. It stands on Namey Hill, Newcastle Road, Fulwell. The City of Sunderland website has a map showing it's location.