Ralph Ward Jackson (1806–1880)

Ralph Ward Jackson (1806–1880)
by Francis Grant
Use by permission of the Museum of Hartlepool. Copyright Hartlepool Borough Council.

Ralph Ward Jackson is known as the founder of West Hartlepool. Frustrated by restrictions on business at Old Hartlepool’s Victoria Dock, he established the West Hartlepool Dock Company and opened a new dock in 1847 to the south west of the old town. West Hartlepool was born.

Two more docks soon followed, with Jackson Dock opening in 1852 and Swainson Dock in 1856. Along with new rail links to Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, the new docks transformed West Hartlepool into a thriving town. By 1881 it had a population of 28,000, overshadowing its neighbour Old Hartlepool, whose  population was just over 12,000. By 1900 the Hartlepool's were one of the four busiest ports in the country and West Hartlepool alone had a population of 63,000.

West Hartlepool and Old Hartlepool remained separate towns until they finally merged together under the Hartlepool Order of 1966. Today the modern town centre of Hartlepool is in the former West Hartlepool. Ward Jackson Park is named in memory of modern Hartlepool’s founder.

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