1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hartlepool

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HARTLEPOOL, a parliamentary borough of Durham, England, embracing the municipal borough of Hartlepool or East Hartlepool and the municipal and county borough of West Hartlepool. Pop. (1901) of Hartlepool, 22,723; of West Hartlepool, 62,627. The towns are on the coast of the North Sea separated by Hartlepool Bay, with a harbour, and both have stations on branches of the North Eastern railway, 247 m. N. by W. from London. The surrounding country is bleak, and the coast is low. Caves occur in the slight cliffs, and protection against the attacks of the waves has been found necessary. The ancient market town of Hartlepool lies on a peninsula which forms the termination of a south-eastward sweep of the coast and embraces the bay. Its naturally strong position was formerly fortified, and part of the walls, serving as a promenade, remain. The parish church of St Hilda, standing on an eminence above the sea, is late Norman and Early English, with a massive tower, heavily buttressed. There is a handsome borough hall in Italian style. West Hartlepool, a wholly modern town, has several handsome modern churches, municipal buildings, exchange, market hall, Athenaeum and public library. The municipal area embraces the three townships of Seaton Carew, a seaside resort with good bathing, and golf links; Stranton, with its church of All Saints, of the 14th century, on a very early site; and Throston.

The two Hartlepools are officially considered as one port. The harbour, which embraces two tidal basins and six docks aggregating 831/2 acres, in addition to timber docks of 57 acres, covers altogether 350 acres. There are five graving docks, admitting vessels of 550 ft. length and 10 to 21 ft. draught. The depth of water on the dock sills varies from 171/2 ft. at neap tides to 25 ft. at spring tides. A breakwater three-quarters of a mile long protects the entrance to the harbour. An important trade is carried on in the export of coal, ships, machinery, iron and other metallic ores, woollens and cottons, and in the import of timber, sugar, iron and copper ores, and eggs. Timber makes up 59% of the imports, and coal and ships each about 30% of the exports. The principal industries are shipbuilding (iron), boiler and engineering works, iron and brass foundries, steam saw and planing mills, flour-mills, paper and paint factories, and soapworks.

The parliamentary borough (falling within the south-east county division) returns one member. The municipal borough of Hartlepool is under a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors, and has an area of 972 acres. The municipal borough of West Hartlepool is under a mayor, 8 aldermen and 24 councillors, and has an area of 2684 acres.

Built on the horns of a sheltered bay, Hartlepool (Hertepull, Hertipol), grew up round the monastery founded there in 640, but was destroyed by the Danes in 800 and rebuilt by Ecgred, bishop of Lindisfarne. In 1173 Bishop Hugh de Puiset allowed French and Flemish troops to land at Hartlepool to aid the Scots. It is not mentioned in Boldon Book as, being part of the royal manor of Sadberg held at this time by the family of Bruce, it did not become the property of the see of Durham until the purchase of that manor in 1189. The bishops did not obtain possession until the reign of John, who during the interval in 1201 gave Hartlepool a charter granting the burgesses the same privileges that the burgesses of Newcastle enjoyed; in 1230 Bishop Richard Poor granted further liberties, including a gild merchant. Edward II. seized the borough as a possession of Robert Bruce, but he could control it very slightly owing to the bishop’s powers. In 1328 Edward III. granted the borough 100 marks towards the town-wall and Richard II. granted murage for seven years, the term being extended in 1400. In 1383 Bishop Fordham gave the burgesses licence to receive tolls within the borough for the maintenance of the walls, while Bishop Neville granted a commission for the construction of a pier or mole. In the 16th century Hartlepool was less prosperous; in 1523 the haven was said to be ruined, the fortifications decayed. An act of 1535 declared Hartlepool to be in Yorkshire, but in 1554 it was reinstated in the county of Durham. It fell into the hands of the northern earls in 1563, and a garrison was maintained there after the rebellion was crushed. In 1593 Elizabeth incorporated it, and gave the burgesses a town hall and court of pie powder. During the civil wars Hartlepool, which a few years before was said to be the only port town in the country, was taken by the Scots, who maintained a garrison there until 1647. As a borough of the Palatinate Hartlepool was not represented in parliament until the 19th century, though strong arguments in its favour were advanced in the Commons in 1614. The markets of Hartlepool were important throughout the middle ages. In 1216 John confirmed to Robert Bruce the market on Wednesday granted to his father and the fair on the feast of St Lawrence; this fair was extended to fifteen days by the grant of 1230, while the charter of 1595 also granted a fair and market. During the 14th century trade was carried on with Germany, Spain and Holland, and in 1346 Hartlepool provided five ships for the French war, being considered one of the chief seaports in the kingdom. The markets were still considerable in Camden’s day, but declined during the 18th century, when Hartlepool became fashionable as a watering-place.