Old Hartlepool developed as a fishing village on the magnesium limestone headland. Surrounded by the sea on three sides it is a picturesque area with interesting architecture and a marina. Old Hartlepool amalgamated with its more industrialised neighbour West Hartlepool in 1967 to form a single entity.
John Russell's talk covered the history of Hartlepool Headland from the Romans through to modern times.He highlighted the many archaeological digs which have taken place there, unearthing the remains of a 7th Century monastic community and an extensive Anglo-Saxon community. The impressive St Hilda's church was built on the same site.
During the Napoleonic wars a French ship allegedly sank nearby. The only survivor is said to have been a monkey and legend has it that the monkey was duly tried and hanged as a French spy. Hartlepudlians are known as "monkey-hangers" to this day.
The Heugh Battery was established in 1860 to protect the fast-growing port. The guns, suitably updated, formed an air-raid defence during both World Wars. In 1914 the area was bombarded by German battle cruisers and Hitler launched a massive air raid on the East coast of England which saw 40 bombers attack Hartlepool.
Our thanks to John for an interesting talk.