Rare 1914 footage of Hartlepool bombardment revealed

2nd October 2020

A chance find has led to previously unseen footage, showing the aftermath of the bombardment of Hartlepool on 16 December 1914, being made available for the first time.

The film was discovered in a box of broken cameras and lenses, bought by museum curator Mark Simmons, who works for Hartlepool Borough Council. He was amazed to read the title card on the first frames – The Attack on the Hartlepools – as he’d been actively researching the bombardment since 2011, looking for new information to use as part of museum displays and memorial events.

Mark brought the reel to the North East Film Archive and, thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of our North East on Film project, we were able to work with the British Film Institute to digitise the fragile nitrate film.

Made by the Gaumont Company and of unique historical significance, it can be described as the best quality of any films showing the damage inflicted on the town and shows areas not captured in other footage of the event.

The film also includes footage of the attacks on Scarborough and Whitby, which took place on the same day. They were the only battles to be fought on home soil during World War One.

The restored film, plus further information and context supplied by Mark Simmons, can be watched online at https://www.yfanefa.com/record/27122