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Hartlepool ( ) is a town and port in the ceremonial county of County Durham, Englandmarker.

It was founded in the 7th century AD, around the Northumbrianmarker monastery of Hartlepool Abbeymarker. The village grew during the Middle Ages and developed a harbour which served as the official port of the County palatine of Durhammarker. A railway link to the South Durham coal fields in 1835 resulted in further expansion, with the establishing of the new town of West Hartlepoolmarker. Industrialisation and the establishing of a shipbuilding industry during the later part of the 19th century caused Hartlepool to be a target for the German Navy at the beginning of the First World War. A bombardment of 1150 shells on 16 December 1914 resulted in the death of 117 people. A severe decline in heavy industries and shipbuilding following the Second World War caused periods of high unemployment until the 1990s when major investment projects and the redevelopment of the docks area into a marina have seen a rise in the town's prospects.

Hartlepool is within the unitary authority area of the Borough of Hartlepoolmarker, for ceremonial purposes part of County Durham.


Hartlepool Town Wall: dating from the late 14th century the limestone wall once enclosed the whole of the medieval town.
The picturesque houses overlook the entrance to Victoria Docks which can be seen in the background.

Hartlepool was founded as a village in the 7th century AD, springing up around Hartlepool Abbeymarker, founded in 640 on a headland overlooking a natural harbour. The monastery became famous under St Hilda, who served as its abbess from 649-657, but it fell into decline and was likely destroyed by the Vikings in 800.

The place name derives from Old English *heort-ieg "hart island", referring to stags seen, and pol, "pool". Records of the place-name from early sources confirm this:
  • 649: Heretu, or Hereteu
  • 1017: Herterpol, or Hertelpolle
  • 1182: Hierdepol

Hart is the Old English name for a stag or deer which appears on the towns crest and le pool meant by the sea, people moved here to hunt where there were deer by the sea and eventually settled there.The petrified forest below the sea provides proof that hart (deer) did once live in a forest by the sea.

During the Middle Ages the village grew into an important (though still small) town, gaining a market and walls, and its harbour was improved to serve as the official port of the County palatine of Durhammarker.

The town had medicinal springs, particularly the chalybeate spa near the Westgate. Thomas Gray the famous poet ('Elegy in a Country Churchyard') visited in July 1765 to take the waters, and wrote to his friend Dr Wharton:

'I have been for two days to taste the water, and do assure you that nothing could be salter and bitterer and nastier and better for you... I am delighted with the place; there are the finest walks and rocks and caverns...'

A few weeks later, he wrote in greater detail:

'The rocks, the sea and the weather there more than made up to me the want of bread and the want of water, two capital defects, but of which I learned from the inhabitants not to be sensible. They live on the refuse of their own fish-market, with a few potatoes, and a reasonable quantity of Geneva [gin] six days in the week, and I have nowhere seen a taller, more robust or healthy race: every house full of ruddy broad-faced children. Nobody dies but of drowning or old-age: nobody poor but from drunkenness or mere laziness.'

Isambard Kingdom Brunel visited the town in December 1831 and wrote: 'A curiously isolated old fishing town - a remarkably fine race of men. Went to the top of the church tower for a view.'

Hartlepool's harbour made it a convenient outlet for the coalfields of South Durham and in 1835 a railway was built to enable South Durham coal to be exported. A rival railway was built in 1847 and docks were established at its terminus, around which a new town, West Hartlepoolmarker, was founded by Ralph Ward Jackson.

Ralph Ward Jackson was the man who built West Hartlepool. He saw potential in an area which, in the early 19th century, was only villages and sand dunes. He brought trade and industry to West Hartlepool. He helped to plan the layout of town, and was responsible for the first public buildings. He was also involved in the education and the welfare of the inhabitants. In the end, he was a victim of his own ambition to promote the town. Accusations of shady financial dealings, and years of legal battles, left him in near-poverty. He spent the last few years of his life in London, far away from the town he had created.

The two communities grew very rapidly, from a population of only a thousand at the start of the 19th century to 64,000 in 1891. The modern town represents a joining together of "Old Hartlepool", locally known as the "headland", and West Hartlepoolmarker. What was West Hartlepoolmarker became the larger town and both were formally unified in 1967. Today the term "West Hartlepool" is rarely heard outside the context of sport, but the town's only premier Rugby Union team still proudly retain the name (See Sports below)

The name of the town's professional football club reflected both boroughs; when it was formed in 1908, following the success of West Hartlepool in winning the FA Amateur Cup in 1905, it was called "Hartlepools United" in the hope of attracting support from both towns. When the boroughs combined in 1967 the club renamed itself "Hartlepool" before renaming itself Hartlepool United in the 1970s. Many fans of the club still refer to the team as "Pools".

The area became heavily industrialised with an ironworks (established 1838) and shipyards in the docks (established in the 1870s). By 1913, no fewer than 43 ship-owning companies were located in the town, with responsibility for 236 ships. This made it a key target for Germany in the First World War. One of the first German offensives against Britain was the Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby on the morning of 16 December 1914, when units of the Imperial German Navy bombarded Hartlepool, West Hartlepool, Whitbymarker and Scarboroughmarker. Hartlepool was hit with a total of 1150 shells, killing 117 people.

Two coastal defence batteries at Hartlepool returned fire, firing 143 shells, damaging three German ships: SMS Seydlitz, SMS Moltke and SMS Blücher. The Hartlepool engagement lasted roughly 50 minutes, and the coastal artillery defence was supported by the Royal Navy in the form of four destroyers, two light cruisers and a submarine, none of which had any significant impact on the German attackers.As a result of this bombardment, the first military casualty on British soil since the English Civil War fell, Private Theophilus Jones of the 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. This event is commemorated by a plaque at the spot on the Headland, and a living history group, the Hartlepool Military Heritage Memorial Society, who portray men of that unit for educational and memorial purposes.

An attempt by the German High Command to repeat the attack a month later led to the Battle of Dogger Bankmarker on 24 January 1915 at which the Blücher was sunk. During World War II, RAF Greatham (also known as RAF West Hartlepool) was located on the current South British Steel Works.

Hartlepool suffered badly in the Great Depression of the 1930s and suffered high unemployment until the start of the Second World War, during which its shipbuilding and steel-making industries enjoyed a renaissance. Most of its output for the war effort were "Empire Ships". German bombers raided the town 43 times. After the war, both industries went into a severe decline. "Blanchland", the last ship to be constructed in Hartlepool, left the slips in 1961. There was a boost to the retail sector in 1968 when Middleton Grange Shopping Centremarker was opened by Princess Anne, with over 130 new shops including Marks & Spencer and Woolworths.

A view of the town facing west from the viewing platform built into the Christ Church tower.

Before the shopping centre was opened, the old town centre was located around Lynn Street, but most of the shops and the market had moved to a new shopping centre by 1974. Most of Lynn Street had by then been demolished to make way for a new housing estate. Only the north end of the street remains, now called Lynn Street North. This is where the Hartlepool Borough Council depot was based (alongside the Focus DIY store) until it moved to the marina in August 2006. By the 1980s the area was again severely affected by unemployment. A series of major investment projects in the 1990s revived the town centre with a new marina, rehabilitation of derelict land, the indoor conversion to modernise Middleton Grange Shopping Centremarker from the 1960s brutalist architecture, the Historic Quay regeneration, and the construction of much new housing, which has led to the town becoming improbably chic in recent years.

Members of Parliament

Hartlepool is represented in the House of Commonsmarker by one Member of Parliament. The current MP for the Hartlepool constituencymarker is Iain Wright of the Labour Party. He was first elected in a by-election on 30 September 2004 with a much-reduced majority following an 18% swing to the Liberal Democrats. He retained the seat with a greatly increased majority in the 2005 UK general election.

Former Members of Parliament for Hartlepool since 1945 have been:

Mr Mandelson resigned to take up a role in the European Commissionmarker. On 13 October 2008 he was created Baron Mandelson of Foymarker and Hartlepool following his appointment as Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in the British Government.

Wards of Hartlepool

Hartlepool is divided up in to seventeen wards, each of which elect councillors whom make up the borough council.

  • Brinkburn
  • Brus
  • Dyke House
  • Elwick
  • Fens
  • Grange
  • Greatham
  • Hart
  • Jackson
  • Owton
  • Park
  • Rift House
  • Rossmere
  • Seaton
  • St. Hilda
  • Stranton
  • Throston


Nearby towns and cities

Local Areas / Villages


Hartlepool has six Secondary schools, with an expected closure of one due to decreasing student numbers. The town has a diverse selection with both Catholic and Church of England schools. The town plans to receive funding from central government to improve school buildings and facilties, as a part of the Building Schools for the Future Program.

Hartlepool College of Further Educationmarker is an educational establishment in the town of Hartlepool, UK. Its main campus is located in the very centre of the town at the hub of all major road routes to the surrounding area, and is within a few minutes walk of Hartlepool Railway Station.

The College has been established for well over a century in various forms, but the current campus was built in the 1960s alongside the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, on formerly-residential land that was redeveloped after heavy damage during World War Two. This building is set to be replaced with a new £62million custom-designed building. The new campus was approved in principle July 2008, and is set to be completed in 2011.

A campus of Cleveland College of Art & Designmarker, the only remaining specialist art and design college in the North East in either of the Further or Higher Education sectors, is also based in Hartlepool, alongside the Art Gallery in Church Square. The College has two further sites, both in nearby Middlesbrough.




Entertainment and shopping



Hartlepool nuclear power stationmarker is an advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) type nuclear power plant opened near Hartlepool in the 1980s.



Hartlepool is served by two primary routes which are the A179 road and the A689 road, both linking the town to the A19 road. The A179 road is the main road to the north west which leads to the A19 road, Durhammarker and Tynesidemarker. The A689 road is the main road to the south west towards the A19 & Billinghammarker, Stocktonmarker, Middlesbroughmarker and Yorkmarker. The A178 road leads south to Seaton Carewmarker, Graythorpemarker, Seal Sandsmarker, Port Clarencemarker and Middlesbroughmarker via the Transporter bridge. The A1086 road leads north to Crimdonmarker, Blackhall, Hordenmarker and Easingtonmarker.


Hartlepool is served by Hartlepool railway stationmarker which is on the Durham Coast Line with hourly services to Newcastlemarker and Middlesbroughmarker which are provided by Northern Rail. There is a new service to London from Sunderlandmarker provided by Grand Central that uses former InterCity 125 mph trains. This is the first time in 15 years that Hartlepool has had a direct link to London by train.Seaton Carew railway stationmarker is also located on Seaton Lane


Hartlepool has services provided by Stagecoach Group around the town and to Billinghammarker, Stocktonmarker and Middlesbroughmarker. Other services are provided by Arriva and Go North East to Peterleemarker, Durhammarker, Sunderlandmarker and Newcastlemarker.


Hartlepool has been a major seaport virtually since it was founded, and has throughout its entire history maintained a proud fishing heritage. During the industrial revolution massive new docks were created on the southern side of the channel running below the Headland, which gave rise to the town of West Hartlepool. These docks are still in use today and still capable of handling vessels of virtually all shapes and sizes.

However, the capacity of the docks is now a fraction of what it once was, as after years of industrial downturn, a large portion of the former dockland was converted into a Superior Marina, capable of berthing 500 vessels. Hartlepool Marina is home to a wide variety of pleasure and working craft, with passage to and from the sea being determined by a lock, and visitors are always welcome to lay over and enjoy the hospitality of the town.

Hartlepool also has a permanent RNLI lifeboat station.


Hartlepool has an oceanic climate typical to the United Kingdom.



Hartlepool United is the town's professional football club and they play at Victoria Park, Hartlepoolmarker. They won promotion to League One for the 2007–08 season. Their first season back in League One, after a brief absence, they finished 15th. In December 2008, the club parted company with manager Danny Wilson. The club's most famous day, was back in 2005, just 8 minutes away from England's 2nd tier, Championship, when Chris Westwood gave away a penalty and Sheffield Wednesday pipped Hartlepool to a place in the Championship. The supporters of the club bear the nickname of Monkey Hangers. This is based upon a legend that during the Napoleonic wars a monkey which had been a ship's mascot was taken for a French spy and hanged.

Rugby Union

West Hartlepool R.F.C.marker are more commonly known as "West" and in the 2007 - 2008 season they won the North 2 East league title and were promoted to North 1 (which is the 5th tier of the national league structure). In the mid-1990s, West were the pride of North East rugby union (as were Newcastle Gosforth), and played in what is now the Guinness Premiership. West were then hit by bankruptcy and controversially sold their Brierton Lane stadium. There then followed a succession of relegations as professional players deserted the club, leaving West to pay off their debts which was a consequence of the clubs ambitious pursuit of professionalism.

Hartlepool RFC are the 2nd most succesful club in the town with strong financial backing who currently play in the Durham & Northumberland 1 league.

Other clubs include, Hartlepool BBOB, Hartlepool Athletic, Seaton Carew and Hartlepool Roversmarker

West Hartlepool TDSOB (Tech) folded last year due to a high number of players leaving, the majority of which now play for either West or Rovers.

Tall Ships' Races

On 28 June 2006, Hartlepool celebrated after winning its bid to host The Tall Ships' Races. The town will welcome up to 125 tall ships in 2010, after being chosen by race organiser Sail Training International to be the finishing point for the race. Hartlepool will greet the ships, which will have sailed from Kristiansandmarker in Norway on the second and final leg of the race.

Local media


Hartlepool is famous for allegedly executing a monkey during the Napoleonic Wars. According to legend, fishermen from Hartlepool watched a French warship founder off the coast, and the only survivor was a monkey, which was dressed in French military uniform, presumably to amuse the officers on the ship. The unsophisticated fishermen assumed that this must be what Frenchmen looked like, and after a brief trial, summarily executed the monkey.

Although a popular story, it seems unlikely to be true. Historians have also pointed to the prior existence of a Scottish folk song called "And the Boddamers hung the Monkey-O". It describes how a monkey survived a shipwreck off the village of Boddammarker near Peterheadmarker in Aberdeenshiremarker. Because the villagers could only claim salvage rights if there were no survivors from the wreck, they allegedly hanged the monkey.

"Monkey hanger" and Chimp Choker are common terms of (semi-friendly) abuse aimed at "Poolies", often from bitter footballing rivals Darlingtonmarker. The mascot of Hartlepool United F.C. is H'Angus the monkey. The man in the monkey costume, Stuart Drummond, stood for the post of Mayor in 2002 as H'angus the monkey, and campaigned on a platform which included free bananas for schoolchildren. To widespread surprise, he won, becoming the first directly-elected Mayor of Hartlepool, winning 7,400 votes with a 52% share of the vote and a turnout of 30%. He was re-elected by a landslide in 2005, winning 16,912 on a turnout of 51% – 10,000 votes more than his nearest rival, the Labour Party candidate.

The monkey legend is also linked with another of the town's sports clubs, Hartlepool Roversmarker RFC, which uses the hanging monkey as the club logo. On tours it would hang a monkey on the posts of the rugby pitch to spread the story.

The bone
June 2005 a large bone was found washed ashore on Hartlepool beach by a local resident, which initially was taken as giving credence to the monkey legend. Analysis revealed the bone to be that of a red deer which had died 6,000 years ago. The bone is now in the collections of Hartlepool Museum Service.

In 2008, a novel based on the legend called The Hartlepool Monkey, written by Sean Longley, was published. The novel tells the story of the monkey, named Jacques LeSinge by the French doctor who discovers him, that was supposedly hanged. In the book, the monkey talks and possesses several other human characteristics.

Notable people

Public services

Hartlepool falls within the jurisdiction of Cleveland Police. Prior to 1974, it was under the jurisdiction of Teesside Constabulary.

Town twinning


  4. How monkey murder brought British coastal towns together

External links

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