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13 November 2014

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You are in: Tees > Nature > Coast > Point 3: Fishes and Monkeys

The legend of the monkey hanging.

The legend of the monkey hanging.

Point 3: Fishes and Monkeys

Monkey hangers! An insult to the people of West Hartlepool but a happy memory for those in Old Hartlepool, who are proud of their history and the legends surrounding them.

Fishing has provided the people of the Headland with a living since medieval times, if not for longer.

The fish sands

Preparing their fish for sale

The Fish Sands is the name given to the area of beach in front of the Town Wall.

This area was ideal for the fishermen to bring their fishing boats out of the water sitting amongst their fellow fishermen as they all prepared and sold their catches. They did this until the modern Fish Quay was built in 1880.

The Fish Quay can be found at Kafiga Landing in Victoria Harbour and is currently the happy home of a Bearded Seal. Read the BBC link at the top right of this page for more info and the BBC report.

A ship just off Hartlepool

A ship just off Hartlepool

Chances are, if you know anything about Hartlepool it'll be the legend of the hanging of the monkey... The story goes a bit like this: during the Napoleonic Wars some fishermen were working on the Fish Sands when a monkey was swept ashore dressed in French clothing.

The innocent monkey was mistaken by the fishermen as a French soldier and was questioned and eventually tried for being a French spy, meeting his fate in the form of a noose.

He had a song written about him in 1853 by Ned Conran, a Victorian Balladeer who wrote and performed "The Fishermen Hung The Monkey O!" which you can listen to by clicking the link at the top right of this page.

But if you can't listen to the link, here's a bit of the song:

In former times, when war and strife
The French invasion threaten'd life
An' all was armed to the knife
The Fishermen hung the monkey O!
The Fishermen with courage high,
Siezed on the monkey for a French spy;
"Hang him!" says one; "he's to die"
They did and they hung the monkey oh!

At this point you will need to turn left up Sandwell Chare and right at Church Walk.

You should be able to see St Hilda's Church sat atop a small hill. This is point 4 on the walk.

last updated: 03/09/2008 at 10:54
created: 11/07/2005

You are in: Tees > Nature > Coast > Point 3: Fishes and Monkeys

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