The Monkey Legend is one of the most enduring and famous tales about the town of Hartlepool and dates back to the start of the nineteenth century.
It was during the Napoleonic Wars that the story was based around the discovery of the wreckage of a French ship off the coast of Hartlepool.
The town’s fishermen had been monitoring the progress of the ship as it fought against a vicious storm and when it eventually sunk they immediately turned their attentions to the wreckage.
Only one survivor was found on-board the ship – a pet monkey which the crew had dressed in military clothing to help keep spirits up during their travails.
At the time, the Hartlepool fisherman were unsure what the creature was and, after apparently questioning the confused monkey, concluded it was likely to be a French spy.
A trial was held and the monkey was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to death by hanging – which is where the enduring term of Monkey Hangers comes from.
In the past the name was taken as an insult by the people of the town, but in recent years Hartlepool folk began to embrace the legend and the worldwide attention it has gained for the town.
Without doubt one of the major factors in the turnaround in feeling towards the Monkey Hanging legend was the introduction of H’Angus the Monkey as Pools’ mascot back in 1999 – and he’s gone on to become just as famous across the globe as the tale itself.