AN INITIATIVE aimed at bringing the story of the First World War to life has secured almost £400,000 as the centenary of hostilities nears.

The two-year-scheme will include exhibitions, drama performances, digital and hologram shows across the Tees Valley.

It will also ensure that local schools visit the Heugh Gun Battery in Hartlepool which, along with the towns of Scarborough and Whitby, was shelled by German ships on December 16, 1914.

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Only Hartlepool was defended, both by the batteries and naval vessels which resulted in a full-scale battle and the death of 101 civilians, nine soldiers, four sailors and nine German seamen.

Hartlepool Borough Council led the bid for cash from the Renaissance Strategic Fund at Arts Council England to secure £394,775 for commemorative projects across Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton.

Alison Clark-Jenkins, Regional Director at Arts Council England, said: “This project aims to bring the story of the War to life, to root an understanding of it in local events and artefacts, and to reveal the profound social impact it had on every section of society.

“The partnership across the Tees Valley demonstrates the commitment of museums to work collaboratively and explore new models of operating in this challenging financial climate.

"Our investment will see communities being put at the forefront giving more opportunities for people to engage with the fabulous collections in the North-East.”

David Worthington, Head of Culture and Information at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “We aim to commemorate this momentous period in both the country's and Hartlepool’s history.

“It was a period of a lost generation when millions died and signalled a change to the country’s social structure.

“In Hartlepool we saw the bombardment of the town in December 1914, an event that cost many lives and caused damage to property that can still be seen to this day. This is a great opportunity to bring World War I to generations who have no direct connection with the conflict.

“We are very grateful to the Arts Council for their funding and look forward to working with our partner organisations in delivering what promises to be a really exciting and interesting project.”