Place-name: ‘Hart Island, pool or inlet’. This is a difficult name; its forms fall into three main types:

  1. Herterpol c.1160-1335; Hiartar poll [c.1170]; c.1220, Hertrepol 1200-1521 with variants –poll(e) –pole.
  2. Hertepol 1211-1420 with variants -i-, -y-, -pole, -poll –pull (1420); Hertpol(e) 1310-11, 1382.

III.  Hertelpol 1200-1433; Hertilpol(e) c.1230-1511 with variant spellings –yl-, -poel (1260-c.1325), -pull(e) (1342-1473); Hartlepoul 1344, Hartlepool from 1531.


Information on the place name was provided by Victor Watts, by personal communication.

The first mention of West Hartlepool in an official document dates from 1847.


Early Landowners

During the Middle Ages, the land on which West Hartlepool would later stand belonged to the Brus family of Skelton and later to the Cliffords. The Lumleys held the manor of Stranton under the Brus and Clifford overlords. In the late 1830s when it became clear that new companies such as the Hartlepool Dock and Railway Company were intent on transforming the area into a commercial enterprise, local businessmen began to buy land between Hartlepool and Stranton. This was not a prime agricultural district so the investors had little difficulty in buying land from local landowners. Surtees Street and Mainsforth Terrace were named after the Surtees family of Mainsforth, and Lynn Street was named after a local landowner, possibly one of the Lynn family of Rift House.

See the Victoria History of the County of Durham vol.3 (ed.) William Page (1928)


An Early Mention

From “A History of Hartlepool” Sir Cuthbert Sharp, supplement to the 1851 edition.

“The extensive and prosperous works of the Harbour and Docks . . . have given rise to a considerable town called “West Hartlepool,” which is rapidly springing up. The streets and roads are open and spacious – the houses and shops are generally neat and commodious – and every consideration is given to cleanliness, and the health of the inhabitants, by the adoption of one uniform and effective system of sewerage and drainage throughout the whole of the new town.

West Hartlepool, in fact, is evidently progressing, and destined to be a town and port of considerable extent and importance.”


Selected B­uildings

Old Dock Office (1846)

The Athenaum (1852)

­Christ Church (1854)

Wesley Methodist church (1873)

St. Paul ‘s church (1886)

Municipal Buildings (1889)

Town Hall (1897)

Grand Hotel (1899)

Wilton Grange (1903)

Grange Road Methodist church (1905)

Customs House (1911)

Co-operative Store (1915)

Odeon Cinema (1936) Formerly the Majestic cinema.

Civic Centre (1977)


A Few Lost Buildings

Owton Fence House Farm (c.1800) demolished in 1968.

Old Customs House (1844) demolished c. 1911.

Swainson Dock Warehouses (Built in the “neo-classical style, 1860, 1861) demolished 1959.

Market Hall, Lynn Street (1893) demolished in 1977.

Tunstall Manor (1896) demolished in the 1920s.

Tunstall Court (1897) demolished in 2014.

The Cameron Hospital (1905) demolished in1992.

The Empire Theatre (1909) closed in 1964 and demolished in 1974.


Some People of Note:

Thomas Casebourne (1797-1864) The engineer of West Hartlepool docks.

Ralph Ward Jackson (1806-1880) An entrepreneur who developed West Hartlepool’s docks and railways and became the town’s M.P.

Edward Turnbull (1820-1888)The chairman of the West Hartlepool Improvement Commissioners who obtained a Royal Charter of Incorporation for West Hartlepool.

George Pyman (1822-1900) His company developed the largest steamship fleet in the North East. He served as mayor of West Hartlepool in1888.

Christopher Furness (1852-1912) A businessman (shipping, shipbuilding, marine engineering) and M.P.

Lees Whitehead (1864-1913) A cricketer from Saddleworth who played for West Hartlepool.  He played for Yorkshire (1889-1904) and for the M.C.C. (1890-1903). He died in West Hartlepool.

John William Howey (1873-1938) An artist from West Hartlepool who became one of the Staithes Group.

Francis Doyle-Jones (1873-1938) A sculptor from West Hartlepool who produced Boer War memorials for West Hartlepool and  Middlesbrough, and many British and Irish public sculptures from his Chelsea studio.

Lionel Tertis (1876-1975) A musician from West Hartlepool who became Professor of Viola at the Royal Academy of Music. He encouraged composers to write music for the viola. Gustav Holst and William Walton composed pieces especially for him.

John “Jack” Taylor (1876-1951) A Castleford-born rugby player who was captain of West Hartlepool and played for England from 1897 to 1905. He captained England in 1901.

Compton Mackenzie (1883-1972) Born in West Hartlepool but became one of the founders of the Scottish National Party. He became a nationally known novelist. (Monarch of the Glen (1941) and Whiskey Galore (1947)).

Edward Mellanby (1884-1955) A physician from West Hartlepool whose studies of rickets in 1919 led to the discovery of vitamin D. He was knighted in 1937.

Cecil Yuill (1907-1992) A builder, born in West Hartlepool, who founded the building firm later known as Yuill Homes. Yuill’s built 30,000 houses in the North East between 1927 and 2014.

John Robert (Jack) Howe (1915-1987) A locally-born footballer who played for Hartlepool in the 1930s and played for England in the 1940s.

Leo McCartie (1925-  ) A Roman Catholic priest from West Hartlepool who became Bishop emeritus of Northampton in 1990.

Margaret Green(1925-2003) An artist from West Hartlepool who studied at the local School of Art but produced much of her work in Suffolk.  She mostly painted landscapes, such as “Misty morning, Seaton Carew”.

Brian Dobson (1931-2012) An archaeologist from Hartlepool who was a lecturer in adult education at Durham from 1960 to 1990. He was a leading authority on Hadrian’s Wall.

John McCracken (1936-1982) An artist known for his portraits of Hartlepool people. Curator of the Gray Art Gallery (1962-1973)

Reginald Hill (1936-2012) A prolific writer of crime novels from West Hartlepool. He created the characters “Dalziel and Pascoe” who featured in a popular television detective series.

Joseph McPartlin (1938-2013) A rugby player from West Hartlepool who played international rugby for Scotland from 1960 to 1962.

Jeffrey Stelling (1955-  ) A sports journalist and television presenter from West Hartlepool.

Andrew Linighan (1962-  ) A Hartlepool-born footballer who scored the winning goal for Arsenal in the F.A. Cup Final of 1993.

Lindsay Johnson (1980-  ) A footballer from Hartlepool who represented England from 2004 to 2009 and was in Everton’s F.A.Cup winning team of 2010.

Jemma Lowe (1990-   ) A swimmer who broke the British 100 metres butterfly record in 2008 and competed in the Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012.



1861     13,601

1901     60,561

1961     78,630



Whellan’s Directory of 1856 states “the town of West Hartlepool owes its existence to the formation of the West Docks in 1845, up to which period, the entire site was a barren shore . . .” The Introduction refers to engineers, block and mast makers, 8 shipyards,  a canvas manufactory and iron foundries.

The itemised list includes 20 builders, 23 joiners and builders, 7 plumbers, painters and glaziers, 2 timber merchants, 2 marine store dealers, a steering wheel manufacturer, 7 coal fitters, 40 master mariners and 3 shipbrokers. In addition there were plenty of shops, including 45 grocers, 19 butchers, 15 tailors, 3 milliners, 15 inns and taverns, 28 beer houses, 2 watchmakers and a glass and china dealer.


Ward’s Directory of 1936 reveals a large town teeming with all kinds of shops, many of them quite small. For instance, the directory lists  61 grocers, 40 general dealers, 37 confectioners, 35 bootmakers, 33 butchers, 26 drapers, 23 tailors, 23 newsagents, 23 fruiterers, 18 chemists, 15 bakers, 15 fishmongers, 14 tobacconists, 11 dairymen, 10 furniture dealers, 9 watchmakers, 8 hatters, hosiers and milliners and 6 booksellers and a variety of other shops.  There may be inaccuracies in the directory’s list, but at least it provides a general impression of West Hartlepool as a shopping centre between the wars.


A Selection of Dates

1844     Formation of the Hartlepool West Harbour and Dock Company

1847     The first mention of “West Hartlepool” in an official document.

The West Harbour and the Coal Dock were opened in this year.

1852     The Jackson Dock was opened. John Pile established a shipyard at West Hartlepool.

1854     Christ Church, the parish church, was consecrated after the creation of the new parish of West Hartlepool.

1856     The first iron ship built at West Hartlepool was launched. The Swainson Dock was opened.

1868     Ralph Ward Jackson became the town’s first Member of Parliament.

1874     Thomas Richardson formed the West Hartlepool Iron Company and built the Longhill estate for          ironworkers. What was later known as the North Steelworks later occupied the works site.

1877     The Northern Daily Mail first appeared in print.

1881     West Hartlepool Rugby Football Club was formed.

1883     Ward Jackson Park was opened.

1885     St. Joseph’s Convent School opened. It was closed in 1973

1887     West Hartlepool became a Municipal Borough. The first mayor was elected.

The town became a County Borough in 1902.

1895     The town’s public library was opened.

1898     Burn Valley Gardens were laid out as a public park.

1899-1901         West Hartlepool won the North Yorkshire and South  Durham Cricket championship.

1905     The New Zealand All Blacks rugby team played a team made up of West Hartlepool and Hartlepool                Rovers players.

1909     The Empire Theatre opened in Lynn Street. It was demolished in 1975.

1914     The Hartlepools were bombarded by three German warships.

1920     The Gray Art Gallery was opened in a villa that belonged to Sir William Gray.

1922     The Grantully Hospital was opened.

1924     Trolley buses began to replace trams. The last trams ran in 1927.

1935     Thornhill Open Air School was opened.

1938     The greyhound stadium was opened. It closed in 1993.

1940     Enemy aircraft bombed parts of the town and the nearby steelworks.

1948     Max Lock produced a pan for the town’s future, entitled The Hartlepools, a Survey and Plan.

1953     The last trolley bus ran.

1958     Work began on the South Steelworks between West Hartlepool and Greatham.

1962     Gray’s shipyard, once the busiest in Britain, was closed.

1967     West Hartlepool and Hartlepool were amalgamated as the County Borough of Hartlepool.

1969     The Middleton Grange shopping centre was opened by Princess Anne. The dual carriageway from          Stockton Street to Greatham was constructed.

1972     Opening of the General Hospital.

1975     Demolition began in Lynn Street, once the town’s busiest shopping street.

1977     Queen Elizabeth II opened the new civic centre. In the same year, steelmaking at Hartlepool came to an end. The North Steelworks were gradually demolished.

1979     H.M.S.Warrior arrived at Hartlepool to be restored.

1983     Hartlepool nuclear power station began producing electricity.

1987     H.M.S. Trincomalee was brought to Hartlepool.

1991     Hartlepool Marina was opened.

1992     West Hartlepool Rugby Football Club entered the English premier division. They were relegated seven   years later.

1994     The Historic Quay was opened. The Museum there was opened in the following year.

2005     Hartlepool United Football Club came within one match of promotion to the Championship.

2008     Radio Hartlepool began full-time broadcasting.

2010     The Tall Ships Race began in Hartlepool. Almost a million visitors came to view the ships.


This list of dates was compiled using “West Hartlepool” by Robert Wood (1967) and other secondary sources.


Suggested Further Reading

“Historical Notes and Personal Recollections of West Hartlepool and its Founder” R.Martin (1924)

“Vintage Hartlepool” D.R.P.Ferriday (1978)

“Jackson’s Town” E.Waggott (1980)

“Shipbuilders of the Hartlepools” B.G.Spaldin (1986)

“Dawn Raid: The Bombardment of the Hartlepools” J.M.Ward (1989)

“Hartlepool Through the Ages” P.Chrystal and S.Laundon (2014)

“Victorian and Edwardian Villas of West Hartlepool” P.Hogg, Cleveland History no.90 (2006)

Hartlepool History Website (Stan Laundon)