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History of Hartlepool

We have put together a number of different articles detailing every aspect of Hartlepool history, from the originalOld Hartlepool to the ship building firms of Sir William Gray.


Hartlepool has a long proud history. Hartlepool was originally two towns, the ancient town of Old Hartlepool, known locally as the Headland, and the more recent West Hartlepool. They amalgamated in 1967 to form what is now the single entity known as Hartlepool.


Surrounded on three sides by the sea, the Magnesium Limestone headland or peninsula called the Heugh at Hartlepool is more familiarly known as Old Hartlepool.


Old Hartlepool is the original fishing village which existed before West Hartlepool. It is usually used to distinguish that part of the town from the ‘new’ town of West Hartlepool. West Hartlepool then became known as Hartlepool and Old Hartlepool, wishing to keep its separate identity, began to be known as the Headland!


Hartlepool may not always readily accept association with Teesside, it has its own natural harbour to the north of the river, but in recent centuries its industrial history has been very closely tied up with the River Tees.


In prehistoric times Hartlepool’s headland is thought to have been an isolated tidal island covered by thick forests. In the nineteenth century during excavation of the adjacent marshy area called the Slake, trunks of trees from the ancient forest were found embedded in the clay along with antlers and the teeth from deer that seem to have inhabited the area in large numbers many years ago.


Hartlepool forest is still recorded in existence in the thirteenth century. In fact the ancient Anglo Saxon name for Hartlepool was Heret eu meaning Stag Island which is a reference to either the stag’s head shape of the headland or perhaps an indication that the area may have been well inhabited by forest deer.

The Hartlepool Co-Operative Building

It was a magnificent store – something that would have graced Regent Street or Oxford Street in London. Built in 1912 on the corner of Park Road, the Co-Op was also know as the central stores. The building has had a chequered history, including a nightclub, since the Co-op closed in …

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Steetley Magnesite, also known as Hartlepool Magnesia Works and Palliser Works, was located at Hartlepool Headland. Originally known as The Steetley Lime and Building Stone Company and was named after the small hamlet of Steetley which is located near Worksop, in Nottinghamshire. They owned a small dolomite quarry producing high …

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Cerebos Salt Works

Cerebos Salt Works was located just on the outside of Hartlepool in the village of Greatham. In 1894 nearby Bolckow Vaughan & Co were drilling for water to supply their Vulcan works and discovered a 100m thick salt seam at 1300m depth. Soon after salt production started and would last at …

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Egbert – West Hartlepool’s Tank

A tank was given to West Hartlepool in recognition of its record fund-raising achievement.  In November 1917 two tanks took part in London’s Lord Mayor’s Show. The recent successful participation of the tank in the Battle of Cambrai had fired the public imagination, their appearance in the show proved very …

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Timber Yard Fire 1922

Beginning at around 1pm on 4th January 1922, the ‘’Great Timber Yard Fire’’ was, aside from the town’s bombardment by German forces in 1914, possibly the greatest disaster in Hartlepool’s history. Allegedly seen as far away as Doncaster, it was reputed to have caused about 1 million pounds worth of …

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The Hartlepool Monkey, Who hung the monkey?

The Monkey Hanging Story The monkey-hanging legend is the most famous story connected with Hartlepool. During the Napoleonic Wars a French ship was wrecked off the Hartlepool coast. During the Napoleonic Wars there was a fear of a French invasion of Britain and much public concern about the possibility of …

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Restoring the HMS Trincomalee

In July 1987 Trincomalee, still called the TS Foudroyant, was transported to Hartlepool by a special chartered barge. The Foudroyant Trust, with the aid of cash from Hampshire County Council, had commissioned a study regarding the best option for the ship’s future. Hartlepool was selected on the strength of the …

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History of the HMS Trincomalee

In 1812 a set of plans for two new Leda Class Frigates were drawn up in England. Why a frigate? Frigates were light, fast and agile warships that generally concentrated their firepower on one deck. In terms of both firepower and armour they were no match for a ship of the …

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History of the HMS Trincomalee (Page 2)

Due to the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1819), Great Britain’s naval strength was reduced. After fitting out, which cost a further £2400, Trincomalee was placed ‘in ordinary’ – that is she was roofed over, had her masts removed, and was placed in Portsmouth harbour under general maintenance until such …

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History of the Heugh Battery

Heugh Battery and its sister sites were first conceived in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars to protect the important port and ship building centre of Hartlepool from attack by sea. In 1859 a more substantial battery was constructed, which required the sealing of ancient caves in the cliffs below …

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Andy Capp

Reg Smythe the cartoonist, lived in Hartlepool and the Andy Capp cartoon is set there, sometimes local landmarks are featured in the cartoons. That most slothful of characters, Andy Capp did a rare thing in the 1980s: he stretched his legs and got about a bit. The subject of a …

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Sir William Gray Page 1

Gray, born the son of a draper, in Blyth, Northumberland, was educated in Newcastle and moved to Hartlepool at the age of twenty. Having established a drapers shop at Victoria Street he, like other tradesmen in the town, began to ‘dabble’ in shipping. West Hartlepool honoured their most illustrious shipbuilder …

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Bruce’s Port

In the thirteenth century the coastal port and fishing town of Hartlepool became a fortified place with defensive walls constructed around the Headland. The defences were instigated by Robert Bruce the first, who was grandfather of the famous King of Scotland of that name. The Bruces acquired Hartlepool after the …

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Medieval Port

Throughout the Middle Ages Hartlepool virtually monopolised the shipping of the Durham Bishopric and was one of the busiest places on the eastern coast. Such was its importance that it regularly attracted pirates who hampered the trade of ports like Hartlepool and Whitby. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Hartlepool …

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Old Hartlepool

Old Hartlepool is the original fishing village which existed before West Hartlepool. The origins of ancient town of Hartlepool (Old Hartlepool) can be traced back to ca 647 AD. In the 8th century AD, Bede mentions it (“heopru” – the place where harts (deer) drink). The record goes blank then, …

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West Hartlepool History

At the beginning of the nineteenth century it was hard to believe that Old Hartlepool, with its small population of only 993 consisting almost entirely of fishermen had been one of the busiest ports on the eastern coast. It was realised that trade had to be brought into the town …

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Hartlepool Place Names

Hartlepool was once a small town surrounded by a collection of villages and farms – some of which still exist today. California California was an area of West Hartlepool on the north side of the town. It was comprised of streets of very badly built houses that were built of …

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Sir William Gray Page 2

13 years on William Gray became the first Mayor of West Hartlepool – the only person ever to have been Mayor of both towns. Two years later In 1890 Queen Victoria knighted him for his services he gave and the generous donations he offered to both Hartlepool and West Hartlepool …

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Where the name Hartlepool came from

There are many suggestions as to how the name Hartlepool came about, listed below are some of these suggestions: Its seems certain that the name ‘Hartlepool’ was derived from ‘harts’ (Stags or Deer) and water. Bede refers to is as ‘the place where harts drink’. The Headland was called Heruteu, …

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Complete Hartlepool History

With a population of 98,000 and situated on the North East coast of England Hartlepool was originally two towns, the ancient town of Hartlepool, known locally as the Headland, and the more recent West Hartlepool. They amalgamated in 1967 to form what is now the single entity known as Hartlepool. …

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Bombardment of Hartlepool

Hartlepool became the first place on mainland Britain to be bombed by the Germans. Over 100 people died as more than 1,000 shells rained down on the town for about 40 minutes from the three heavy cruisers Blucher, Seydlitz and Moltke which emerged from the mist shortly after 8am on …

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Submerged Forest

Hartlepool Submerged Forest is a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which lies on the foreshore at Hartlepool, on the north-east coast of England. This stretches to the north and south of Newburn Bridge for approximately 400 metres. Hartlepool Bay seems an unlikely place for forest today however thousands of …

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Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors History

Sooner or later most of us will need a solicitor. And who better to choose than a firm which has stood the test of time? Tilly Bailey & Irvine – is one of the North East’s leading full service legal practices. Today the firm has offices in York Chambers, York …

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History of Lamb’s Jeweller

THE mechanics of the clock, the name on the doorway and the reputation of the family run business, all remain the same as they did when Henry Lamb opened his jewellery shop 135 years ago. However, along with a change of location, there is one other notable alteration. Gone are …

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