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Hartlepool

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Hartlepool (pronounced Hart-lee-pool) is a seaport on the north-east coast of England. Still thinks of itself as two separate towns: Old Hartlepool (established c712) and West Hartlepool (industrial town SW of old town, established in 1858 to support new steelworks and related industries.) Boasts a picturesque Norman-style church at Stranton (site of the original West Hartlepool settlement.) Church Street still provides the interface between the commercial town centre and the transport links (railway and docks.)

If you're a Hartlepudlian, you will be followed around the world by the gleeful, scornful question, "Who hung the monkey?!!" An explanation doth follow: At some stage in the early 19th century (tentatively fixed at around 1807), a French man-o'-war was wrecked in the North Sea. A survivor washed up on the beach at Hartlepool. This was the ship's mascot - a monkey, reportedly dressed in its own specially-tailored French midshipman's uniform. The locals, being but simple fishing folk (and never having seen a Frenchman) tried the "Frenchman" at the local court, and hanged it as a French spy. (sensible policies for a happier Britain - The Dailie Maile)

A bit of advice if you're thinking of moving to the town: don't talk football. You will be treated to the longest collection of hard-luck stories in FA history. Hartlepool United have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on untold occasions. Rugby fares better in the town: Hartlepool Rovers' badge is a gibbet with a monkey hanging from it. No other sporting club in Britain has such a brilliantly insane logo.

And for those who think British beer is limp-wristed stuff - visit this site to find out about Hartlepool's homage to Bacchus: http://www.cameronsbrewery.com/packaged_ales/super.htm . If you're still standing after a six-pack of this stuff, your mates have probably stuck a broom up your arrse without you knowing. Two great pillars of English culture stand side-by-side in Stranton: the famous old greystone church - and Cameron's Lion Brewery.

On a more serious historical note: There are two versions to the story of the present-day name. One has it that the village of Hart - some 4 miles inland from the port - was the original settlement area. The natural harbour to the east of the village, was named Le Poule by the Normans in the 12th century, and the two areas together became Hart-Le Poule.

Another tale traces the Old English name through its Anglo-Saxon roots. The original Saxon name for the village was Heopru (Place of Harts, or Deer). This was modified in later centuries to Hertelpoll, becoming Hartlepool in time without interference from Norman overlords. This theory carries weight: the old town is the site of a 7th-century abbey, founded by St Hilda (whose legacy is found in St Hilda's Hospital today). The traditions and culture of the area would have been strong enough to resist Norman influence when it eventually made its way to the North-East.