27 April, 2008

British West Hartlepool

(West) Hartlepool is a former steel working, shipbuilding town that likes you to believe it is a fishing port and a tourist destination. The Museum of Hartlepool and the historic quayside bring to life the story of decline and fall. The town has capitalised on its shipbuilding expertise by building HMS Warrior from a hull and refurbishing what was left of the Trincomalle. Maybe it will get the contract to do the Cutty Sark when this comes up.

Hartlepool is of course famous for hanging a monkey – allegedly – and the sporting taunt to Hartlepool teams is monkey hangers. The story goes that during the Napoleonic wars a British sea captain had a pet monkey. This monkey was either washed up on the beach or left behind, and because the townsfolk couldn’t understand the jabbering thought it was a French spy and hung it. Maybe it’s true.

I went to the new dockland marina development which has a sculpture of a monkey (see picture) as a wishing well, which I hit with my first 10p coin but the second went into the dock. There is also a sculpture of a noble hart (the thirteenth century town badge has a hart crossing a pool – a rebus).

The seaside bit of Hartlepool, Seaton Carew, was looking especially dowdy when I passed through.

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