Shelfmark: Additional MS 15539
From its earliest days Hartlepool was a fishing town. Over the centuries the importance of its coastal position increased. It was the most prominent port in the North East until 1664 when, during the English Civil War, the town became occupied by Parliamentarian Scottish forces, who laid waste to much of the harbour area. Over the next two hundred years the port went into decline.
In 1835 new docks were constructed and, together with the opening of the railway in 1839, Hartlepool soon became an important centre for the transportation of coal from the surrounding coal-fields. Consequently, the town experienced much needed economic growth and once again became a town of national importance.
In 1765 the poet Thomas Gray wrote in a letter to a friend "I have been for two days in Hartlepool - I am delighted with the place - I have nowhere seen a taller, more robust or healthy race - Nobody dies but of drowning or old age."