It was founded as a village in the 7th century AD, which sprung up around a nearby monastery. By the start of the nineteenth century it still had a population of only a thousand, but it boomed during the industrial revolution and now has about 100,000 inhabitants.
Hartlepool is famous for executing a monkey during the Napoleonic Wars, the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Not knowing what a Frenchman looked like, and the monkey unable to defend himself against accusations of spying, they hanged the monkey.
In accordance with this legend, the mascot of Hartlepool United F.C is H'Angus the monkey, real name Stuart Drummond, who in 2002 became the first elected Mayor of Hartlepool. He ran on a platform which included free bananas for schoolchildren.