Hartlepool was founded in the 7th century, around the monastery of Hartlepool Abbey. The village grew in the Middle Ages and its harbour gained importance. The port expanded in the early 18th century to handle coal from the South Durham coal fields. Hartlepool was a shipbuilding centre in the late 19th century and was bombarded by the German Navy during World War 1. Shipbuilding declined in the later part of the 20th century, and there was high unemployment until redevelopment in started in the 1990s.
It is claimed that a shipwrecked French monkey (in uniform) was executed during the Napoleonic wars (1803–1815). The legend lives on in the mascot of the football and rugby teams.
Historically part of County Durham, from 1974 to 1996 Hartlepool was part of a new county, Cleveland. This was then abolished and Hartlepool returned to County Durham.
There are five direct trains per day between Hartlepool and London Kings Cross, taking 3 hours. There are other frequent services but taking around 4 hours, with changes at York and Thornaby, or back-tracking from Newcastle. Hartlepool lies on the coastal line with hourly trains to Sunderland, Newcastle and Middlesbrough. Other destinations such as Leeds or Manchester involve changing, and Durham (20 mins by car) and Darlington (45 mins) have better services.
Hartlepool railway station is central in town, near the junction of A689 and A178.
- Newcastle Airport has good connections across Europe. It's an hour away by train and metro, changing in central Newcastle.
- For anything beyond Europe, head for Manchester or the London airports.
- Teesside Airport near Darlington only has four or five flights per day, from Amsterdam, Aberdeen, London City and Belfast City. It has poor public transport, and slaps a £6 "facility fee" on departing passengers.
By taxi: Try 23 taxis, +44 1429 232323
- 1 , Jackson's Wharf TS24 0XZ, ☏ , fax: . April-Oct 10:00-17:00, Nov-March 11:00-16:00. Museum recreating life in an 18th harbour. The standout exhibit is HMS Trincomalee, the oldest Royal Navy warship still afloat (HMS Victory is older, but is in dry dock). Trincomalee was a frigate, launched in Bombay in 1817 and brought to Portsmouth, but then mothballed until 1845. She thereafter served in the seas around North America, including anti-slavery patrols. (Her sister ship HMS Unicorn, mothballed from launch and never in service, can be visited in Dundee.) Adult £10, conc £8.
- The oldest part of town is on the Headland north of town centre. Its 7th C settlers noticed that deer came to drink here, hence the name "Hart-le-Pool".
- 2 St Hilda's Church (on Headland). Sa Su 14:00-16:00, We 11:30-13:00. Dating from the 12th C, overlying the former Hartlepool Abbey founded in 640.
- Walk the beaches - plenty of sand at low tide, but lots of industrial remnants, eg from the limestone-processing era. Further south, the Tees estuary is a nature reserve, where seals may haul out.
- Watch football: Hartlepool United were promoted in 2021 and now play soccer in League Two, the game's fourth tier. Their home ground is Victoria Park, capacity 7800, quarter of a mile north of the railway station.
- Portofino (formerly Krimos), Maritime Ave TS24 0XZ. Tu-Sa 12:00-13:45 & 17:00-21:00, Su 12:00-14:30. North African and Med food with marina views.
- Mary Lambert, 1 Villiers Street, TS26 9DD, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Sa 08:00-17:00. Bakery/café/restaurant, seating for 98, a traditional log fire, does fish and chips.
- Bianco's Deli, Navigation Point, Middleton Rd TS24 0UH (Marina, opposite lighthouse), ☏ . Su-Th 09:00-21:00, F Sa 09:00-22:30. Cafe bar does take-away and sit-in dining.
- 1 Best Western Grand Hotel, Swainson St TS24 8AA, ☏ . 3-star chain hotel, okay but showing its age. B&B doubles from £60.
- Durham is a well-preserved old city with Norman castle and cathedral.
- Go shopping at Gateshead's Metro Centre, one of the largest shopping malls in Europe.
- Newcastle upon Tyne for big city attractions.
- York is a historic city with castle and museums.