CT Consults
3 June 2024

Slow and steady wins the (Tall Ships) race.

Hartlepool Regeneration - bringing creative industries and port industries together

Amy and Andrew have been spending time in Hartlepool, where the team are working on developing a place brand with our friends HemingwayDesign. 

Coming in as outsiders, it’s no real surprise to see the impact of Hartlepool’s decades-long struggle to respond to the loss of its shipbuilding industry – nor other familiar challenges such as high retail vacancy rates in the town centre contrasting with out of town retail parks, or anti-social behaviour. Like many places, Hartlepool definitely needs an injection of energy and resource.

What other places don’t have though, is a National Museum in its town centre (National Museum of the Royal Navy), a marina, two ports, a film studio, a prestigious art school, and a gallery which has recently secured a touring exhibition in partnership with The British Museum. How can these assets be joined up to present an image of Hartlepool of a rejuvenating town, led by creative industries as much as its port industries?

In Hartlepool, strategic funding from national government has been distributed amongst a wider array of projects than in most places. For example, meeting both conservation and accommodation deficits by renovating the Wesley Chapel into a boutique hotel, or buying all the units on a high street parade in a conservation area, ready to turn into a Film Production Village. These decisions have been difficult to communicate to the public – perceived as benefiting private developers more than the public. Multiple small projects are less sexy than one big signature project, and much harder to convey in an ‘elevator pitch’. And so, Hartlepool’s potential transformation is perceived as ‘lesser’ than the likes of nearby Stockton or Darlington, where big ticket projects are providing the ‘wow factor’, and easy headlines.

When viewed collectively however, Hartlepool’s regeneration programme can be truly transformational. The projects all have well-evidenced need and demonstrable impacts. They build upon existing strengths and assets in the town, rather than parachuting in an ill-fitting solution. They protect and find new futures for the town’s impressive built heritage. They will provide long-term, sustainable, commercial benefits for the town. Slow and steady wins the (Tall Ships) race. 

Speaking of tall ships and ‘wow factors’ – last year Hartlepool hosted the world-famous Tall Ships Race. For four days, the town was buzzing with magnificent spectacle which celebrated the town’s shipbuilding heritage and plugged into its creative future. A town of 88,000 population hosted another 330,000 visitors and generated over £12.5m for the local economy. 

The joy of delivering something that was so phenomenally amazing for such a small town is something that will live with me for all of my days. It’s changed my life, and I don’t say that lightly.” Stakeholder comment

Place brand works best when the priority is not what is said about a place, but how it feels – to live, work and visit there. Our job now is to help Hartlepool inform strategic decision-making which builds its legacy; and align all stakeholders to the vision, and continue that ‘Tall Ships feeling’ of joy and pride all year round. 

#placebrand #culturalregeneration #hartlepool 


Some news

Do you think we can help?

Then get in touch

We’re serious about protecting your privacy and won’t share your details with anyone, ever. (read our privacy policy)

    Sign up to our newsletter


    Keep in touch to see our latest projects, thoughts and news. We promise we’ll only send you interesting content.