Tank BankFighting the First World War cost a considerable amount of money, not only for recruiting and equipping troops, but for things like shells and ammunition, fuel and transport, ship and tank and aeroplane production, hospital care, and home defence.
So great were the amounts required that general taxation was not enough to cover the expenditure. The solution was to raise the funds through public charitable appeals and the selling of War Bonds, a national scheme where the public loaned the Government their savings in return for a future profit.
Between August 1914 and April 1919, the County Borough of Hartlepool raised a total of £13,644,415 towards the war effort. In modern money this was a staggering total of £545 million of funds donated by individuals, businesses, local societies, sports clubs and even local schoolchildren. Hartlepool came top of two major national fundraising contests, and third overall in the national War Loan funding campaign.
One particular success was the amount raised during Tank Week. In February 1918 the tank “Nelson” arrived in West Hartlepool and drove around the town to raise funds. A record £37 0s 8d per head of population was given, or about £1500 for each person living in the Borough in modern money.
This pottery “Tank Bank” money box was bought by one local lady during tank week. Her son had been killed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and she had subsequently joined in with the fundraising. Her descendents donated this item to the Museum of Hartlepool in early 2014.
In November 1918 the Government offered the reward of a real tank for civic display to the town that could raise the most funds during Gun Week. Again, a record amount of money per head of population was gathered, and the Borough won the contest. The prize tank “Egbert” duly arrived by railway in 1919 and sat on a plinth at Stranton until being scrapped in 1937.