The coastal town of Hartlepool lies on the North Sea, to the south-east of the city of Durham. It is a separate local authority area, but we include it here.
The place name of Hartlepool derives from Old English, and means 'hart island', refering to stags seen in the area. An ancient settlement, Hartlepool grew up in the 7th century around a convent founded on a headland overlooking a natural harbour. The convent became famous under its abbess, St Hilda, (who served from AD 649 - 57) but it was destroyed by the Vikings in AD 800. Today the site is marked by the beautiful 12th century St Hilda's Church.
In medieval times Hartlepool became a busy market town and the official port of the County palantine of Durham.
The port became even more important in the mid-19th century when the coalfields of south Durham were developed and a railway was built in 1845 to allow the coal to be exported. In 1847 a rival railway terminus and docks were built nearby and the new town of West Hartlepool sprung up around them.
The two towns developed rapidly and modern Hartlepool is an amalgamation of Old Hartlepool and West Hartlepool. In 1967 the two settlements were joined officially and the term West Hartlepool is now rarely used (except by their Rugby Union team ! ).
In the 19th century the area became heavily industrialised with ironworks and over 40 shipyards. It became a major target in World War I and the first German raid against Britain took place here on 16 December 1914.
During the Great Depression the town suffered high levels of unemployment and its shipbuilding and steelmaking industries did not recover until World War II.
After 1945 the steel industry and shipbuilding declined sharply, with 'Blanchland', the last ship to be built here, completed in 1961.
After high unemployment in the 1980s, Hartlepool's economy began to recover in the 1990s with much new housing, the completion of the new Marina and the regeneration of its Historic Quay. Whilst you are here take the time to walk around the quayside which is now known as Hartlepool's Maritime Experience, and also go out to the headland to take a look in the Heugh Battery Museum.
The Marina and Middleton Grange Shopping Centre offer a top class retail facilities. A promenade connects the Hartlepool Marina with seaside town of Seaton Carew. With its broad sandy beaches, this was one of the Victorian's favourite holiday resorts in the North-East and still worth a visit today.
HMS Trinacomalee Visit this lovely old wooden ship.
Hartlepools Historic Quay Discover seafaring as Lord Nelson saw it.
Pirate Petes Castle Adventure 7.0 miles Young children are sure to enjoy some time here.
Redcar Racecourse 7.9 miles All the fun and excitement of the races.
Hartlepool Art Gallery A gallery with good exhibitions.
Museum of Hartlepool Discover the history of the town.
Castle Eden Dene National Nature Reserve 6.3 miles One of the best places in the area for a walk.
Towns Near Hartlepool To Visit - straight line distance:Peterlee (7.11 miles) Redcar (7.44 miles) Middlesbrough (7.77 miles) Easington (8.91 miles)