Six things you didn't know about Foggy Furze as new book uncovers little-known facts about Hartlepool neighbourhood

A new book reveals lesser-known facts about the Hartlepool’s Foggy Furze neighbourhood.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 7:00 am
The Squince family at Foggy Furze Farm in the 1890s. Their descendants went on to have a large market garden and florist's shop, Layton's at Foggy Furze. Photo: Roger Stubbs.

Former primary school teacher Frances Wilson has traced the area’s history from the 17th Century up until the present day.

Like many people, Frances, of Park Road, was intrigued by the name Foggy Furze and wanted to find out its origins.

Along the way she discovered other information which she hopes will help people “see Foggy Furze through fresh eyes”.

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The new Frances Wilson history book. Photo: Frances Wilson.

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1 Foggy Furze was "where posh people lived”

Foggy Furze is nearly 400 years old – and Frances says back in the day it was home to the “posh people” of the town.

Frances said: "It’s an area that pre-dates the town of West Hartlepool.

An advert in the Hartlepool Mail for the sale of Haswell House.

"The earliest reference for Foggy Furze I found was 1692. It was a big farming area and gradually the people who owned the farms started selling off land because West Hartlepool was growing. Lots of shipbuilders were attracted to the town.

“Actually, it turned out that Foggy Furze was where the posh people lived way back in the mid-1800s.

"They built some quite lovely villas, most of which are gone now.“

2 Its name has nothing to do with the weather

In the very first reference to the area in the Stranton Church Register, the neighbourhood is put down as Fog-Fur House.

Frances said: “Fog or foggage is the Norse word for thick, coarse grass.

"Furrows was an Anglo Saxon word and the area was often called Fog Furrows and eventually this became Foggy Furze.”

3 Very few of the original 1850s houses remain

Only one of the original houses built in 1850s has been preserved in Foggy Furze, and Frances says it recently went for sale. Three bungalows are left as well.

Frances said: "In the original town of West Hartlepool, these are actually the oldest houses in the town.

"They haven’t got a conservation order on them and one of them was pulled down two years ago.

"Part of me feels that it’s an area we shouldn’t be losing any more from because of its history.”

4 Remember the florist?

Many Hartlepool people will remember Layton’s florist although few may know how the business started.

It has links to Foggy Furze farms where the Squince family were tenant farmers in the 1890s. Their daughter married the son of people called Layton, who lived in the cottage next door.

Frances said: “Descendants of this family went on to have a large market garden and florist's shop, Layton's at Foggy Furze, right up until the 1980s.”

5 A special house was built to attract a shipbuilder to the town

Ralph Ward Jackson, the founder of West Hartlepool, built Haswell House to attract shipbuilder John Pile to the town, who employed thousands in his shipyards.

The “big, beautiful” property then became home to Hartlepool mayor Thomas Furness.

Haswell Avenue and Whitfield Drive were eventually built on the site.

6 Foggy Furze used to have a race course

Foggy Furze had its own race course, which then became a cemetery.

The book costs £5 plus postage and further details are available via the Foggy Furze Residents Information Centre Facebook page.

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