Sunday, 24 August 2014

Hartlepool .... biographical post number 150.

Marina  GJC_014464
(Hartlepool Marina)

Usually on a saturday I can allocate myself to an event, a walk with friends, gardening :-( or be rostered in for a work shift. Occasionally I have a free saturday when I can check the weather forecast, jump in the car and chase the .... err  ... sun. However like the parallel biographical story here, the location, weather or plans don't always turn out the way you think and there are benefits of character building when the gloomy unexpected turns out better. Maybe you might have to read the twin parallel post twice with different eyes :-)

I've been with this blog for just over four years now and it may be difficult for the regular readers to believe that this is only post number 150. This is an appropriate opportunity for a brief thanks to all commenters for your time and to say I enjoy your material too. Secondly, anybody else who finds their name on the sidebar of my page are appreciated too for a variety of reasons. I did promise some local material every 50 posts but strangely enough this was not the post I had originally earmarked to depict here.

After the uncertainty of 2012, the middle third of 2013 was a peculiar one for me as I had to come to terms with many changes that occurred in both friends and family life leading up to this day out in October 2013. A potentially influential person that crossed my path early in 2012 decided to move on to other things out of my world in a parallel zone the same weekend that these shots were taken.  A lot of my friends opted to go with him and as a result have effectively lost contact in reality. There was much confusion and hurt from those that were left behind over the disunity and the trail of devastation or questions being felt by some, long into 2014.

(Hartlepool's Maritime experience)
Historically, Hartlepool has had an identity crisis on which county it belongs to as it has links to both County Durham and Teesside. The coastal and shipbuilding town of County Durham was incorporated into a new and short lived County of Cleveland from 1974 - 1986. Although having identity with the new area of Teesside, many locals still prefer to be part of County Durham ...


Hartlepool hasn't been the best of towns for many a year and may seem to be a strange place to go for an afternoon out, however it is fighting back thanks to its maritime heritage. The uninitiated may find difficulty in knowing what to call the multi faceted maritime site as a trip to Hartlepool Marina once incorporated a visit to The Hartlepool Historic Quay, the free Museum of Hartlepool and a nearby outlet shopping centre (now closed) selling branded labels called Jacksons Landing.

(Hartlepool's Maritime Experience Entrance) 
The adjacent museums were later incorporated under the title of Hartlepool's Maritime Experience with continuing separate identity and entrances. The HMS Trincomalee resides at the Historic Quay while the PSS Wingfield Castle is overseen by The Museum of Hartlepool. On a side note, Jacksons Landing has been a thorn in the side of the development of the area as it has been vacant for 10 years at the time of writing. The council have purchased the site and are planning the less favourable of the options available of housing.

(Hartlepool Historic Quay Back Gate) 
On the this particular day I arrived to find that The Historic Quay was closed for a wedding and I wasn't welcome ... ! Time to think of a plan B as this was meant to be my main subject for the afternoon.

(Window and cycle rack art ... Hartlepool's Maritime Experience)
First port of call is the Museum of Hartlepool next door which wasn't quite the place I wanted to be with the camera.

(PSS Wingfield Castle)
A Crumb of comfort was The PSS Wingfield Castle which is just outside the back of the museum. The Paddle Steamer was built in Hartlepool, launched in 1934 and used as a passenger ferry in The Humber Estuary until the construction of the road bridge.

(PSS Wingfield Castle)
After retirement and during the early 1980's the ship was due to be used as a floating restaurant in Swansea, South Wales but the final resting place was The Museum of Hartlepool as the paddle steamer was too wide to get through the gates into Swansea marina.
It seems poignant that the ship was welcomed home to a place where it would be loved and accepted amongst it's own.

(PSS Wingfield Castle)

The PSS Wingfield Castle may not have become a restaurant in retirement but a coffee shop for the museum given the circumstances is an acceptable substitute.

(Hartlepool Harbour entrance)
The afternoon was quickly coming to an end and my thoughts turned towards sunsets and silhouettes.  I decided to give the main town of Hartlepool a miss and drive to the Headland in search of new material and the entrance of Victoria Dock.

(Hartlepool Headland)
Hartlepool Headland is essentially the original town on a peninsula of land land borders The North Sea and the Victoria Dock area. The image above is taken slightly to the right of the previous picture depicting the 14th century town walls that once enclosed Old Hartlepool.
The importance of Hartlepool grew as a fishing town and was the scene of skirmishes, wars and threats from The Scottish (Robert The Bruce - The English Civil War) and the French. The Headland started to decline as a fishing port during the early nineteenth century and business men tried to revive it with the coal and railway industry. A"new" Hartlepool (otherwise known as West Hartlepool) was born due to the dock adjacent to the present day museum being more accessible. Shipbuilding became prominent which caused a subsequent bombardment from the German Navy in the first World War. Heavy industry and shipbuilding declined after the second World War but the town doesn't give up despite adversity and the redevelopments of the marina and museum area breathed new life into the old dog !

(Andy Capp, Hartlepool)
Reg Smythe, the creator of the newspaper cartoon Andy Capp lived in Hartlepool, no doubt bringing some influences to his work from the town. Looks like Andy is not enjoying watching the sun go down on Hartlepool.

(Victoria Dock, Hartlepool)
Victoria Dock was rather sparse of industry and closed to the public for safety reasons, however I did manage to catch a scene through a hole in the gate ... before being spotted and stalked by an on site security van. The dark clouds weren't being helpful although the strong wind ensured that the ever-changing cloudscapes kept my interest as I waited for the sun to drop. Circumstances can seem gloomy at the time but there is strength and depth given to overcome them as things are not always defined by history or even what was going to happen the following morning.

(Hartlepool Marina)
The next location on the agenda I was making up as I went around the town was Hartlepool Marina (above and title image)

(Hart, Hartlepool Marina)
Usually I have an idea in mind at the start of any photographic day what one of the shots is going to be in the post, (the final image in this case), however the fun of a new location is to take in new experiences, angles and scenes. Having visited the Museum areas many times before with friends and The Headland on a couple of occasions, the new marina development didn't strike me as one that was going to be a glorious photographic moment. Knowledgable regular readers will realise that from my previous work that surprising material can be achieved from locations that don't seem possible.

It was a mystery to me why this stag was in a prominent position on a plinth at the side of a modern harbour.

"Life in the old ... err ... deer" (Hart, Hartlepool Marina)
Growing up in a neighbouring county, the names of these towns are often taken for granted. I researched it later and foolishly discovered that it was a Hart which is the old English name for a stag or a deer. Additionally, the term Le Pool means beside the sea. It turns out that people came here to hunt deer and decided to stay and build a settlement.

(HMS Trincomalee)
Lastly that leaves me with the the silhouette of the Historic Quay and Britains oldest floating warship in Preservation, HMS Trincomalee built in the post Trafalgar and Napoleonic 1817.
A ship with a long and varied career that has too much history to write about here, except to say that like Hartlepool, it is a survivor ! ...

(HMS Trincomalee)
Sorry if this post has been a bit of a jigsaw puzzle and bits of it look the same but life is sometimes like that ... different perspectives on the same view.

As a result of something that happened in July 2014, I'm looking forward to putting these events behind me and that just leaves me to quote one last phrase ....   "Every cloud has a silver lining" ... The sun sets on some of the recent past !

(HMS Trincomalee)


  1. Your day might not have started out like you planned, but you captured some beautiful scenes anyway!

    1. Thanks Michelle, it turned out to be a bits & pieces photography afternoon but the result was better I could have imagined.

  2. Those shots are truly beautiful, and quite different from what I've seen here before. I love the evening photos.

    1. Thanks JoLynne, always good to try something a bit different for variety if nothing else.

  3. congratulations on the blog anniverasry!

    1. Thanks Ola, I try not to count the anniversaries, it's embarrassing how few posts I've done in the last few years :-)

  4. MY, MY Hartlepool has changed. I will go back. It used to be like the wild west on a Friday night.
    You certainly hit it right for light.
    These images are the best yet.....Did you take them? Sorry of course you did I'm being rude.

    1. Thanks Adrian, I did a weather check first and it was the only photogenic place in the north that looked like there was a break in the clouds. I think it was a mixture of good fortune and a lot of driving around the town for the silhouettes. You've just got to go with what you are given ... happy with the clouds generally apart from the two marina shots.

  5. I hope your discords from 2012/2013 have resolved themselves now.

    Sometimes a change of plan leads to finding things you would otherwise not of thought of or noticed.

    Serendipity :-)

    All of your sunset photos are amazing. Thank you :-)

    1. Thanks Cherry Pie, pleased that you liked the set, I think the issue I referred to has resolved itself. Some would say that time is a healer, but it needed a little bit more than that.

  6. I love name origins, so that was particularly interesting to me. And I guess you were in the right place at the right time, because those clouds and the sun peeking out added such depth and drama to your great photos!

    1. Thanks Cranberry Morning, I can't believe that I didn't know what the name meant until I looked it up. It's strange how I can photograph something weird in a town or city and then research it later to find that there's a fundamental point worth sharing. It was meant to be a cloud free afternoon here but it turned out to be rather helpful at this time of day.

  7. Some fantastic shots there. I confess that I've never been to Hartlepool; it looks fascinating, but also like it's searching for a new identity. It's odd how things turn out; I often think that when a path seems to take an unexpected turn perhaps it's ultimately for the best - though it doesn't usually feel that way at the time! love the Andy Capp statue.

    1. Hartlepool isn't the most obvious tourist destination on this coast line, but it's done a great job of re-inventing itself over the years. The Durham - Teesside coastline can seem depressing to many for a variety of reasons but to engage with the whole 'Maritime Experience' is very worthwhile if the visitor is interested in Maritime history.
      I didn't get the chance to visit the Coastal Battery point in Old Hartlepool (Headland) that gives an insight into coastal defences that I mentioned briefly in the post. This site is further on down the road from Andy Capp. I'll not talk about West Hartlepool though :-) .... but it has got a great intimate musical venue.

  8. Replies
    1. Thanks for your visit Linda, pleased you enjoyed the experience.

  9. Charming Hartlepool! I spent some hours there, many years ago. Surely I didn't see so much so, your article gives me a much better view! Thanks! Traveling Hawk

    1. Thanks Traveling Hawk, the main development is in between west and old Hartlepool. In a sense I'm pleased I couldn't look around the Maritime Experience as the post has been given a better all round flavour.

  10. J, I love the silhouettes of the ship and sun rays shining through and I like the story of the name Hartlepool. By the way, after reading your statistics, I had to go back to my blog and see my statistics... :) Well, I guess many of us have archives filled with unpublished photos and not enough time to share them... It seems to me that there is always something to be neglected while fulfilling the need of paying attention to something else.


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