Transport Trust and the Friends of Hartlepool Station (FOHS) unveiled two Transport Trust Red Wheels at Hartlepool Station on 6 February in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Mrs Sue Snowden.
The Red Wheel Scheme was created by the Transport Trust to recognise and commemorate the most significant sites of significance to transport heritage in the UK. The station is the only one in the country to have been awarded two of these accolades.
The wheels at Hartlepool commemorate two important historical events centred on the station. On 16 December 1914, the German High Seas Fleet sailed down the East Coast of England. The shore battery at Hartlepool engaged the ships but Hartlepool itself suffered major casualties. One of the shells struck the present Hartlepool Railway Station and the resulting damage can still be seen in the brickwork to the east end of the disused platform.
In 1904 the North Eastern Railway introduced its petrol electric autocar running between Hartlepool (now closed) and West Hartlepool (the current Hartlepool Station). Two such cars were built, operating with ‘driving trailers’ originally built for use with steam autocar services on a number of lines in the North Eastern Railway area. These vehicles are a crucial link between steam and modern diesel electric multiple units and their significance has been recognised by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has supported their restoration. To date, the Transport Trust has placed 100 Red Wheels around the UK.
The 12-strong FOHS was established in 2008 to improve lines of communication between station operators and users. Many of the group also serve as Grand Central ambassadors, welcoming passengers and offering support and guidance when the station is unmanned.
Grand Central runs five services a day through Hartlepool, northbound to Sunderland and southbound to London (calling at Eaglescliffe, Northallerton, Thirsk and York).