The Ports of Tees and Hartlepool
Review and History

The Ports of Tees and Hartlepool are about ten kilometers apart on the Tees River in northeastern England. The Tees River flows 110 kilometers into the North Sea and acts as a boundary between Yorkshire and Durham counties. The river has long been tamed to serve local needs. Channels have been straightened and estuary has been reclaimed to become home to industrial sites, collectively called Teesside, and one of Britain’s biggest ports, Teesport.

Teesport, which is owned by PD Ports, lies five kilometers west of Middlesbrough. Hartlepool is located in Durham county about 10 kilometers north-northeast of Teesport. The town is home to a chemical industry, and the port primarily serves North Sea petroleum fields.

Port History

Part of the Ports of Tees and Hartlepool, the old town of Hartlepool once sheltered a North Sea fishing harbor and was favored by the local medieval princes who granted it a charter in 1201. The modern town began to grow in 1835 when the railway arrived, and the town became a port, importing pit props and exporting coal from the Durham coal field. In 1847, a new town was laid out along the new West Hartlepool dock, and it grew quickly. New iron and steel, marine engineering, and ship-building industries developed there. Over the 20th Century, those industries declined, and the Hartlepool economy has depended more on its proximity to and relationship with Teesside and Teesport.

Also part of the Ports of Tees and Hartlepool, Teesside is the collection of the towns of Middlesbrough, Redcar, Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, and other settlements on the banks of the Tees River. In 1968, it was created to form a separate county borough and a unitary authority independent of both Yorkshire and Durham counties. In 1974, the both Hartlepool and the Teesside borough were absorbed into the non-metropolitan Cleveland county. The towns and counties of the area underwent several reorganizations in the 1990s for administrative purposes. However, residents still use the older names of Teesside, Durham, and Yorkshire.

Residents of the Ports of Tees and Hartlepool are often called “smoggies,” reflecting the ever-present smog from the petrochemical plants in the area.

Owners of the Ports of Tees and Hartlepool, PD Ports started in 1852 with the formation of the Tees Conservancy Commissioners to protect the interests of the river and port users on the Tees River. In 1864, the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company was formed, and parts of it later became part of PD Ports. In 1966, the Commissioners became the Tees and Hartlepool Port Authority (THPA) by act of Parliament. In 1992, privatization led to three groups sharing interest in THPA: Powell Duffryn PLC, 3i, and Humberside Holdings Ltd. In 1995, Powell Duffryn PLC acquired 100% of the business. Nikko acquired Powell Duffryn PLC (and PD Ports) in 2000, but sold it back to PD Ports PLC in 2004. In 2006, BBI acquired PD Ports PLC.

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