West Hartlepool was founded in 1847 as industry started to spread out of Hartlepool towards the newly erected docks. This painting shows how much it had grown in just ten years.
In the painting you can see one of the main industries in Hartlepool at the time: shipbuilding. The docks to one side, as well as timber yards, highlight the importance of the shipbuilding industry to the town. This specatular view of Hartlepool is taken from on top of Christ Church (now the Hartlepool Art Gallery), and gives amazing views of West Hartlepool, including Church Street and the docks.
John Wilson Carmichael was born and spent his youth in Newcastle. His father was a shipbuilder and, at 16, John was apprenticed to a shipwright. This work did not satisfy his artistic ambition. By the age of 23, he had set up his own painter's studio. Although Carmichael did some landscape and architectural subjects, like this one, he is best known for his maritime paintings.
This painting of Hartlepool highlights how the town had changed in a short period of time, but also a reminder about how much has not changed, with many of the buildings (and some of the docks) still found in Hartlepool today.