Strantun c.1130, Stranton 1158. ‘Settlement, farm, estate on the shore’. Old English strand + tun.
See “A Dictionary of County Durham Place-names” V.Watts (2002).
Stranton was among the lands of Hartness granted to the first Robert de Brus by King Henry I. Later, Robert granted the lands of Hartness to his younger son, Robert, who was lord of Annandale in southern Scotland. The Bruses granted the church of Stranton to the canons of Guisborough Priory. The most famous of the family, Robert Bruce, forfeited Hartness in 1306 when he laid claim to the throne of Scotland against the wishes of King Edward I. His lands were granted to the Clifford family. The Lumleys had Stranton in the 15th and 16th centuries.
See “The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Yorkshire North Riding” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1923).
An Early Mention
In the Calendar of Close Rolls of King Richard II under the year 1392, there is a catalogue of what had been given roughly 100 years earlier by Robert de Brus, the 5th Lord of Annandale, to his daughter Isabel and her husband John FitzMarmaduke. It included:
“102 messuages (houses), dovecote, eleven tofts, seven salt works, seventy gardens, a water mill, a windmill, 2,000 acres of land, 20 acres of meadow, 1,400 acres of pasture, 800 acres of moor and 50 acres of marsh, by name of all the lands etc. which the grantor had in Stranton . . .”
An early mention in literature can be found in “An Historical, Topographical and Descriptive View of the County Palatine of Durham” vol.1, E.Mackenzie and M.Ross (1834):
“Stranton is situated about a quarter of a mile from the sea, on the south side of Hartlepool harbour, and 10 miles north-north-east from Stockton. It is a pleasant, irregular village, surrounded by rich, inclosed lands, with a number of scattered houses in its township. The ground slopes gradually towards the shore, which is here a fine, smooth, sandy beach. The Wesleyan Methodists have a licensed meeting-room in the village, where there is also a parochial school, built by subscription in 1777, but which has not yet received any endowment. Here are four public houses, three corn-mills, with blacksmiths, shoemakers, &c.; and the township contains fourteen farms. Limestone was quarried and burnt here in great abundance a few years ago; but this business is now only occasionally carried on. An annual feast is held in Stranton, commencing on the Sunday after Old Martinmas-day.”
All Saints Church (12th century with 13th, 14th and 15th century additions and alterations.)
The Lion Brewery (1852)
Stranton Social Club, formerly The Grange (late 19th century)
A Few Lost Buildings
Stranton windmill, destroyed by fire in 1857.
Church Mill (early 19th century or earlier) demolished in the early 20th century.
Church Row (19th century) demolished c.1950.
Fulthorpe National Endowed School (1841) demolished c.1912.
Burbank Street United Methodist Church (1868) demolished in 1959.
People of note
Rev. Christopher Fulthorpe (c.1630?-1711) A clergyman born in Tunstall who was Rector of Sigglesthorne near Hornsea from 1662 to 1711. He owned land in Stranton and left a generous endowment to build a school in Stranton.
John Charlton (1829-1862) A jockey, born in Stranton, who won the 1.000 Guineas in 1853, the Oaks in 1854 and both the Derby and the Oaks in 1857.
John W. Cameron (1841-1896) A brewer from Westmorland who took over the Lion Brewery in Stranton in 1872 . He became mayor of West Hartlepool in 1889.
Jack London (1913-1963) A professional boxer, born John Harper in Stranton. Under his professional name, he beat Freddie Mills in 1944 to take the vacant British Heavyweight title.
Brian London (1934- ) The son of Jack London, born Brian Harper in Stranton. In 1958 he became the British Heavyweight boxing champion. He fought for the world title twice, losing to Floyd Patterson in 1959 and to Muhammad Ali in 1966.
The Hearth Tax of 1666
22 houses in Stranton had 1 or 2 hearths. 1 house had 5 hearths. The largest 2 properties belonged to “Antho Dodsworth Gent” with 7 hearths and “Clem Fultherup Esqr” with 10 hearths. As well as these last three grand mansions, Stranton had a large number of poorer homes. 44 householders were classed as “non-solvents” who were exempted from the Hearth Tax on the grounds that they had insufficient means to pay it.
See “Hearth Tax List for South Durham Lady Day 1666” (ed.) J.C.Howe for the Cleveland Family History Society.
White’s Directory of 1829 presents Stranton as a village of farmers and innkeepers, although this may not be the whole story. 14 farmers were named along with the landlords of the Anchor, the Blacksmith’s Arms, the Seven Stars, and the Hope Inn. 3 millers were named, 2 blacksmiths, 2 shoemakers, a joiner and cartwright, a tailor and a stone mason. William Tate was described as the parish clerk, schoolmaster and shopkeeper. Whellan’s Directory of 1894 described the sudden growth of Stranton. ‘The quaint old village of Stranton, after the development of the West Docks, soon became absorbed in the new town, and little remains besides the ancient church, and a few old houses, which are fast giving place to more modern dwellings.’
Some significant dates
1400 Stranton sent one lancer and two archers to join the troops summoned by Henry IV to assemble on Gilesgate Moor.
15th century The Fulthorpe Chapel was added to the north side of the chancel of All Saints church.
1569 Rebels taking part in the Rising of the North stole a silver piece from the vicar of Stranton. One Stranton man was executed after the rebellion.
1580 The parish register commenced.
1587 145 people in Stranton parish died of the plague in 1596 and 1597.
1777 A parochial school was built.
1823 Thirteen ships were driven ashore at Stranton during a storm.
1836 Flooding at New Stranton.
1841 Fulthorpe’s National Endowed School was built at the north end of the village.
1844 The West Hartlepool Harbour and Dock Company was formed, with the aim of creating a harbour south west of Hartlepool harbour, at the northern edge of Stranton parish.
1852 The Lion Brewery was begun by William Waldon.
1857 Stranton windmill was destroyed by fire.
1862 All Saints National School was opened.
1872 John W.Cameron took over the Lion Brewery.
1880 Stranton Vicarage was built.
1889 Stranton Fire Station was built on Barnard Street.
1890 St. Aidan’s Church was consecrated. The Lion Brewery was enlarged.
1899 Electric trams began running from Clarence Road in West Hartlepool along Stockton Street past Stranton.
1906 All Saints National School was closed.
1912 Stranton Grange Cemetery came into use.
1924 The trams were replaced by Trolley Buses.
1926 St. Aidan’s Memorial School opened.
1930 Stranton Boys’ Brigade was formed.
1950 A fleet of motor buses was acquired to replace the trolley buses.
1953 The Lion Brewery bottling works was bult.
1954 Stranton Crematorium came into use.
1959 A new Stranton Fire Station was built.
1969 Belle Vue Way reached Stranton.
1971 Stranton Primary School was opened.
2004 A visitor centre was opened at Cameron’s Brewery.
2008 The restoration of Stranton Garth was completed.
2013 Stranton Primary School became an Academy.
This list of dates was compiled using information from the Hartlepool History Then and Now website and other secondary sources.
Suggested Further Reading
“Victoria History of the County of Durham” vol.3 (ed.) William Page (1928)
“Over the Gates: Old Town – The Years of Change” J.Tabley (1989)
“Back Over the Gates” J.Tabley (1990)
“The Parish of Stranton” W.A.Boagey in Heruteu No. 1 (1981)