It’s ‘girl power’ now for Hartlepool’s Christmas light switch-on in new look square

Published Tuesday, 27th November 2018

Five inspirational young Hartlepool women will now be switching on Hartlepool’s Christmas lights.

The bumper evening of fun - which will also mark the official reopening of the town’s Church Square after a multi-million pound transformation - is on Friday 30 November around the Christmas tree in Church Square from 4pm to 7pm.

Coronation Street actress Brooke Vincent had been lined up to do the honours. However, the external agency through which Hartlepool Borough Council booked Brooke’s appearance has ceased to trade, with the result that, through no fault of either Brooke, her management team or the Council, Brooke is now no longer able to appear.

Instead, joining the Mayor of Hartlepool Councillor Allan Barclay to press the button at 6.30pm will be:

* 2018 X Factor finalist Molly Scott, who studied at English Martyrs School

* 2018 Keep Britain Tidy Litter Hero Jessica Stones

* Dottie O’Keefe, who is making amazing progress to walk, despite having cerebral palsy

* Neisha Webb, who with the help of a prosthetic blade is achieving anything she sets her mind to

* Boxing champion Savannah Marshall

There’ll be lots more besides, with songs by Molly Scott and performances by North-East songstress Channy Thompson, Hartlepool musicians Pek and Wanley plus Durham City acoustic trio North Road, who are going down a storm on Youtube.

Miss Toni’s Academy Choir will be in fine voice with Christmas classics and there’ll be traditional fun from the stars of upcoming Town Hall Theatre pantomime Cinderella. The comperes for the evening will be BBC Tees presenters Neil Green and Amy Oakden on the BBC music stage.

The festivities are a fitting opening for Church Square, which over the past year has been transformed by a £3.4m Hartlepool Borough Council scheme to revitalise the square and neighbouring Church Street.

The project was funded by the Tees Valley Combined Authority and by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The main contractor was local firm Seymour Civil Engineering.

Church Square has been pedestrianised and a large oval event space has been created in front of Hartlepool Art Gallery (the Grade II-listed former Christ Church), encircled by trees and lawn, providing an attractive area for various events.

A landscaped walkway now leads into the event space along Upper Church Street and there is also new road access to the neighbouring Northern School of Art.

Councillor Kevin Cranney, Chair of the Council’s Regeneration Services Committee, said: “We’re sorry that through no fault of either Brooke, her management or the Council, Brooke won’t be able to join us on Friday.

“However, we’re delighted that five of Hartlepool’s own inspirational young women have stepped in and kindly agreed to do the honours and get Christmas well and truly underway in this fun-packed event for all the family.

“What better location than Church Square, which thanks to our major regeneration project has been revitalised, creating a lovely environment for people to enjoy and where businesses can flourish. Together with Church Street, it will help create a thriving route from the town centre and transport interchange down to what will be the redeveloped waterfront.”     

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It’s great to see our investments in the town coming to life, delivering a real and visible upgrade to Church Square and the surrounding area. But this is just the beginning and there’s much more investment to come.”

Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North-East, added: “Church Square and Church Street are being transformed thanks to National Lottery funding.

“This is a fantastic chance to celebrate the success of the Church Square scheme and look forward to the opportunities that will be provided for heritage, businesses and the local community as part of the Church Street conservation works.” 

Kevin Byrne, Managing Director of Seymour Civil Engineering, said: "We are proud to have been the main contractor delivering this impressive, high quality project which has transformed Church Square.” 

For full details of the Christmas Light switch-on performance timings, visit