A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 1, the City of Kingston Upon Hull. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
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In this section
- MODERN HULL
The Reformed Corporation, p. 215. Economy, 1835–70, p. 219. Industrial Development, 1835–70, p. 222. The Corporation and the Dock Company, 1835–70, p. 227. Public Health and Poor Law, 1835–70, p. 231. Religion and Education, 1835–70, p. 239. Political History, 1835–70, p. 242. Economy, 1870–1914, p. 245. The Corporation and the Docks, 1870–1914, p. 249. Industrial Development, 1870–1914, p. 253. Municipal Enterprise, 1870–1914, p. 260. Public Health and Housing, 1870–1914, p. 264. Religion and Education, 1870–1914, p. 266. Politics, 1870–1914, p. 269. Economic Development, 1914–39, p. 270. Municipal Enterprise, 1914–39, p. 275. Religion and Education, 1914–39, p. 277. Politics, 1914–39, p. 278. The City after 1939, p. 279.
The Reformed Corporation
The Reform Bill crisis stirred up a serious political agitation in Hull, an agitation directed under Radical leadership against the three corporate bodies which between them controlled much of the economic life of the town—the Dock Company, the Trinity House, and the town corporation. These attacks provide one illustration of the extremely complex political and economic structure of the town.
Population of Hull Borough, 1801–1961 (fn. 512)
Hull was growing rapidly (see Table 1) and was faced with problems, particularly in public health, similar to those faced by other northern manufacturing towns; its politics were subject to similar pressures, for example from organized Methodism or from sanitary reformers, to those felt elsewhere. Yet, in contrast to many other towns of similar size, its old, unreformed, corporation had possessed powers which survived the reform of 1835 and which inevitably gave it an important role in the development of the town. Thus it claimed under the charter of 1382 to be the owner of the port, with the right to levy dues on shipping. (fn. 1) It had helped with the financing of both Humber and Junction Docks, (fn. 2) and after 1835 was actively concerned with subsequent dock construction. To this day the corporation administers the 'old harbour' and the corporation pier from which the Humber ferry sails. Again, because of the peculiar situation of the town, the water supply had been brought from a distance since medieval times, and had been an undertaking of the corporation since at least the 15th century. (fn. 3) Thus while the Municipal Corporations Act imposed few duties, save that of setting up borough police forces, Hull Corporation's management of affairs was of great importance to the welfare of the town, and the election of town councillors was a subject of serious and lively public interest.
The economic structure of the town also contributed to an unusual political situation. It was generally, and rightly, held that the wealth and growth of Hull depended on its shipping, and thus on the shipowners operating from Hull. But in national politics the shipping interest, long before the Reform Bill agitation, had emerged as a well-organized and self-conscious political group in its attempts to fight off the economic consequences to shipping of the peace of 1815. After 1815 the shipping interest in Hull, as in contemporary Liverpool, was Protectionist and Tory in its political sympathies. (fn. 4) Shipowners could, therefore, particularly if they confined their attention to their immediate advantage, as they often did, appear to have interests in opposition to those of other local groups. Timber importers, for example, or men such as Henry Blundell, the founder of the paint firm, whose raw material came from the Baltic, saw the advantages of free trade, to which the shipowners were opposed. Again, opinion was divided on the need for building a railway to the West Riding, those shipowners who had established profitable steam packets to Selby or to London being opposed to such a scheme even though it would plainly increase the trade of the town. Similarly there developed, in a different sphere, a division between shipowners and import merchants who were anxious to reduce dock dues to a minimum, and ratepayers in general who benefited from the water-bailiff's dues, levied on shipping by the corporation. Furthermore, the shipowners, always the first to feel the effects of dock congestion, would demand the construction of new docks which the Dock Company, aware of the great capital expenditure involved, would be in no hurry to undertake; and in the siting of new docks the interests of importers, of warehouse proprietors, of the railways, and of navigation rarely coincided.
There were, then, many cross-currents in the political life of Hull, which in the extreme geographical isolation of the town could easily harden into feuds between the various interests. Moreover, since the corporation already provided certain public utilities, and since the development of a port, unlike perhaps that of a textile town, necessarily depends on docks and transport facilities which can be provided only with parliamentary sanction, the political history and economic history of Hull in the 19th century were very closely integrated.
At the municipal elections of December 1835 the overthrow of the old corporation was complete: none of the twelve former aldermen was re-elected, and the 42 new councillors were, with a single exception, of the reform party. (fn. 5) The new men included B. M. Jalland, the leading Whig in the town, and his political colleagues John Gresham and Henry Blundell. The elections also introduced a number of Radicals, of whom the best known was William Woolley, a solicitor who had led the popular attack on the old corporation before the royal commission in 1833–4. (fn. 6) The old aldermen had been members of an old-established merchant class, men such as John Barkworth and Avison Terry: the new council, though it included three shipowners, was composed mainly of shopkeepers living and working in the wards they represented.
The spirit of the reformers was soon shown in their intention that the 'ostentatious frippery of the defunct corporation should be set adrift as soon as possible'. Plate, furniture, and wines belonging to the Guildhall were sold by public auction for £1,649. There were many revolutionary proposals for the disposal of the mace, swords of state, and cap of maintenance, but in the end they were deposited in the Guildhall and brought out again for use on public occasions only in the more conservative political atmosphere of 1851. (fn. 7) The new corporation's political attitude was shown in other ways—by the passing of resolutions on controversial political issues of national politics, and by the dismissal of the town clerk, a Tory who in the course of his duties had represented the old corporation before the commission in 1834. His place was taken by Thomas Thompson, who continued in office until 1858. (fn. 8) The advowson of Holy Trinity was sold for £3,685, and passed to a group of trustees who pledged themselves to maintain the evangelical traditions of the church. This sale was obligatory under the Municipal Reform Act. (fn. 9)
There were also urgent problems which came directly within the sphere of the corporation's duties—in the re-organization of the police and of the borough finances. In both these matters the old corporation had become more and more incompetent. Before 1835 the police had been divided between four authorities. Besides the constables employed by the corporation there were watchmen employed by the Hull and Myton Commissioners and by the Sculcoates Commissioners, and ten employees of the Dock Company, sworn in as constables, who guarded property in the docks. (fn. 10) This miscellaneous force had wholly failed to maintain order during Acland's agitation. (fn. 11)
The new watch committee was constituted in February 1836. It included some of the most forceful characters on the council, Councillors Cookman, Jalland, and Woolley, and it was given a free hand to create an enlarged and efficient police force. The new force consisted of a superintendent, A. M. MacManus, appointed from the Kensington police force on the recommendation of the Metropolitan Police, and 93 other ranks. (fn. 12) The cost was met almost equally from a watch rate and from the borough fund.
The new force acquired a reputation for efficiency, (fn. 13) and an attempt by Councillor Gresham to cut the cost by introducing part-time constables was defeated. It required persistent effort, however, to reform the discipline of the force, to cut out drunkenness on duty, to combat the long-established idea that the police were aged and at the bottom of the wage-scale, and finally to eradicate the belief that the police were subject to political influence. (fn. 14) The history of Hull was, as will be seen, (fn. 15) free from the social and industrial strife experienced elsewhere in the later thirties and forties, so that the police force was not subjected to a severe test; but there is no reason to suppose that it was inadequate.
The other major task of the corporation after 1835 was the reform of the borough finances, and this was accomplished with equal success. The old corporation had been getting more and more into debt and in 1834 it owed £37,000, mostly in 4 per cent. bonds held in general by local people. This was explained partly by the cost of the police during the Reform Bill disturbances, partly by the loss of revenue from market tolls and the Humber ferry at the same time, partly by street improvements, and very largely by a loan of £15,000 to the Dock Company towards the building of Junction Dock in the 1820s. (fn. 16)
The position improved rapidly after 1835, for the sales of 'ostentatious frippery' were only part of a general economy campaign. Between 1837 and 1840 bond debts to the value of £16,945 were paid off, and the remainder, £13,120, in the five years 1841–5. In 1837 the excess of interest paid by the corporation over interest received by it was £988 a year; by 1845 it had fallen to £266, and between 1845 and 1855 the corporation had a favourable balance of interest payments. In addition to this the 1840s were not years of municipal parsimony: the corporation contributed to the cost of the new Stoneferry waterworks, provided a new dry dock and a new landing-pier for the Humber ferry-boats, and in 1851 purchased the site of the old workhouse for a police headquarters. In addition it established public baths and wash-houses at Stoneferry in 1845 and in Trippett Street in 1850, and maintained them out of public funds. (fn. 17)
This comfortable situation, so different from that of contemporary York, may be traced not necessarily to the general wealth of the community, but to the borough's unusual financial powers. Of the £18,750 received by the borough fund in 1841–2, £6,656 came from rents, £1,287 from market dues, and no less than £6,374 from the water-bailiff's dues. (fn. 18) The last included a variety of charges. Specific sums were charged on commodities imported and exported—e.g. 8d. a ton on hemp, flax, tow, and cordage—unless they were the sole property of Hull freemen and imported in British ships. There were also dues on shipping—anchorage, from which freemen again were exempt, hostage, and jettage. (fn. 19) All these were claimed, both in the docks and in the River Hull, by the corporation as owners of the port. In addition it gained a considerable subsidy from the Exchequer. Before 1823 the corporation had, like many other port authorities, levied double dues on foreign ships; these had been abolished by Huskisson on the introduction of the policy of reciprocity, but the government had compensated the ports by paying the difference, and it continued to do so until 1861. Thus the corporation had a substantial source of income, which might be sensitive to trade fluctuations but which over a longer term would grow automatically with the expansion of the port. The reduction of port dues in 1853 (fn. 20) involved an immediate reduction in receipts by the corporation from £7,656 in 1851–2 to £6,820 in 1852–3; yet ten years later the remaining dues yielded £8,329 in 1862–3. (fn. 21) While there might be local complaints that Hull was a dear port for the merchant and shipowner, it was a cheap place for the ratepayer.
To some extent this may give a misleading impression, for the two most expensive branches of mid-19th-century administration, the poor law and public health, were administered by separate bodies levying separate rates. (fn. 22) In general, however, the borough finances remained exceedingly strong until the corporation began to be faced with heavy and inescapable bills for public works in the late sixties. Apart from 1856, when port dues fell sharply because of the Crimean War, 1873 was the first year when the borough fund showed a deficit, and 1875 was the first year in which a general rate was levied. (fn. 23) Under the Hull Water Act of 1843 (fn. 24) the corporation received an annual payment of £2,600 from the waterworks committee, in addition to existing sources of revenue. Its income was expended on the police, for the corporation spent about £3,000 annually in the forties, rising to about £4,000–£4,500 in the late sixties, over and above what was received from the watch rate; on the maintenance of the borough gaol; and on street improvements, rising from about £500 a year in the forties to about £1,500 in the sixties. In addition grants were made from time to time to the local board of health for such purposes as the laying-out of Pearson Park in 1860 or the upkeep of the public baths and wash-houses. (fn. 25)
From 1860, however, a series of expensive public works and buildings was undertaken—a new town hall, begun in 1862 and opened in 1866, which cost about £36,000; a new borough gaol in Hedon Road, built in 1865–70 at a cost of about £82,000; and in 1869–70 a new swing bridge, North Bridge, over the River Hull, costing about £8,000. (fn. 26) Expenditure of this order could not all be met out of general funds, and a gaol rate was levied from 1867 and a North Bridge rate from 1870. Thus, by the end of this period, the exceptional prosperity of the borough finances was coming to an end. (fn. 27)
The economic progress of Hull was necessarily dependent on the development of the port, and such industries as were established there in the 19th century were in one way or another the consequences of the activity of the port. (fn. 28)
The potentialities of the port of Hull are largely determined by the town's geographical situation, on the bank of the Humber at a point where the deep-water channel comes closest to the northern shore. This situation gave great natural advantages, but it was far from making Hull's trading position impregnable in the 19th century. The advantage of deep water was less significant until perhaps the 1870s, since the ships of 1,000–1,500 tons which constituted the bulk of Hull's steam shipping could equally well get into Goole or Grimsby, or into the ports of the north-east coast. If a comparison is made with Liverpool the vulnerability of Hull is clear: there were few places on the west coast which could compete with Liverpool, but there were many ports on the east coast which could compete with Hull at any one time. These competitors included both old ports which decayed in the 19th century, such as Selby, Bridlington, and Whitby, and ports promoted or revived by the railways in the middle and later 19th century, such as Grimsby, Harwich, the Hartlepools, and Newcastle. This situation provides a reason for the chronic battle in Hull with the dock and railway authorities: local merchants and shipowners always had a lively sense of the dangers of competition.
Hull was faced with effective competition not only from east coast ports but from Liverpool. It was a long way from Hull to the rapidly growing industrial areas of Lancashire and the West Riding: Leeds for example is 55 miles from Hull and 75 from Liverpool, Sheffield is 65 miles from Hull and 73 from Liverpool, and Manchester is 95 miles from Hull and only 35 from Liverpool. Since Liverpool was much the larger port, with long-established trading relations at the beginning of this period with America and the East Indies, it imposed definite limitations on Hull's trading opportunities.
A third characteristic of Hull's situation must be noticed. The port had developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as the natural centre of a wide system of inland waterways. Goods trans-shipped at Hull were sent up the Trent to Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire, through the Aire and Calder navigation system to the Sheffield and Leeds areas, and up the River Ouse to York, and inland waterways have remained important in Hull's transport system to the present day. But Hull is badly placed as a railway centre, being about 35 miles from the main route to the north at York, and cut off by the Humber from easy communication with the south. The building of the railways therefore brought with it a possible threat to the trade of Hull.
Municipal reform coincided with the peak of a commercial boom in 1836 and the new corporation immediately found itself involved in local dock (fn. 29) and railway politics. The Liverpool and Manchester Railway had been opened in 1830; on the east coast, plans for a railway date back to 1825, when the first survey of the Leeds and Selby Railway was undertaken and the question of extending the line to Hull was canvassed in the Hull newspapers. The Leeds and Selby line was opened in 1834, and interest in a continuation to Hull revived: the prospectus of the Hull and Selby Railway was issued in 1835. (fn. 30) It is noticeable, however, that even in a year of booming trade, when congestion in the docks was already being felt, there was difficulty in collecting local support. There was opposition, though it may be doubted whether it was very influential, from the proprietors of the steam packets which plied between Hull and London, and from Hull up the river to Selby. (fn. 31) More weighty opposition came from landowners, Robert Raikes of Welton and J. R. Pease of Hesslewood. But a more significant index of the lack of local enthusiasm is the slowness with which the necessary capital was subscribed: a Bill could not be brought before Parliament until half of the £310,000 required had been subscribed, and it was not until September 1835 that this was achieved, two of the biggest shareholders and directors being not local men but important Leeds manufacturers, John Marshall, the flax-spinner, and Benjamin Gott. (fn. 32) The railway, linking Hull with the West Riding, was opened in July 1840. (fn. 33)
For the next few years Hull was in a strong competitive position on the east coast. The first railway from Grimsby, however, linking it with Sheffield, was opened in 1849, and in the following year a direct route from Grimsby to Peterborough and London was opened. (fn. 34) With the decision of the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway to build docks at Grimsby, which were opened in 1858, Hull acquired a rival on the other side of the Humber.
The shipping of Hull in 1840 showed two characteristics, both of which persisted for the next 30 or 40 years. In the first place the volume of coastal traffic, as opposed to inland water transport, was not large. In 1844–5 424,000 tons of shipping entered and cleared at Hull in the coastal trade, compared with 682,000 at the much smaller port of Bristol. (fn. 35) Secondly, the oversea trade of Hull was carried on almost exclusively with the ports of northern Europe.
The general character of that trade is well illustrated by the ships and cargoes which entered the port in two representative weeks in 1848. (fn. 36) Of 69 ships all told three came from Canadian ports with cargoes of timber, one from New York with turpentine, two from Taganrog, on the Sea of Azov, with linseed, three from Spain and Portugal with wine and cork, and one from Caen with stone. The remaining 59 came from Holland, Belgium, and north-west Germany, mostly with cargoes of wheat, barley, and beans, and from the ports of the Baltic, bringing timber, iron, linseed, and oil-cake, as well as wheat. In 1860, out of a total tonnage of 711,000 which entered the port, 554,000 came from northern Europe. Of these 711,000 tons, 377,000 were British and 334,000 foreign, the countries from which more foreign than British tonnage arrived in 1860 being Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany. The Russian trade by contrast was almost exclusively in British hands, though this does not, of course, necessarily mean that it was in the hands of Hull shipowners. (fn. 37)
Within this area an extensive network of regular steamship sailings had been established by 1860, run by a number of firms. In 1837–8 there were six sailings weekly to Hamburg, run by the Hull & Humber Steam Packet Company and the St. George Steam Packet Company. By 1846 there were also weekly steam packets to Antwerp (Brownlow, Pearson), Bremen (N. Veltman & Co.), and Rotterdam (W. H. H. Hutchinson). Two more firms, Gee's and Sanderson's, had joined in the Hamburg trade, and Gee's had established monthly sailings to St. Petersburg. By 1858 there were regular sailings to Copenhagen (Gee's and Bröchner's), Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris (Gee's and Sanderson's), and also the first regular sailings to Scandinavia—weekly sailings to Christiansund, Christiania, and Gothenburg. The last were run by T. Wilson and Sons and mark the first appearance in the sailing lists of the firm which would ultimately outstrip most of its local rivals. (fn. 38)
Trade with India and China remained negligible: the first ship from China, the Raymond, arrived in Hull with a cargo of tea in 1843, (fn. 39) but the experiment was not repeated. Another, the William Lee, owned by Thomas Thompson of Hull, sailed regularly to Calcutta in the 1840s, the trade being stimulated by the opening of the Hull Flax and Cotton Mills in 1836. (fn. 40) But the report of the East India and China Trade Association in London showed that in 1840 424 ships left London and 173 Liverpool for ports within the East India Company's charter, whereas only 22 all told left Bristol and Hull. In 1853 fourteen ships left Hull for the East Indies, and none for China. (fn. 41) Where the South American trade was concerned, a solitary ship, the Samuel Spyvee, sailed to Callao in 1842, but none followed this precedent until 1868. (fn. 42) There was little development of the trade with the United States in the period 1840–70: fourteen ships sailed from Hull in 1853 and six in 1860. The only trade outside northern Europe to expand noticeably between 1840 and 1870 was the import of cotton-seed from Egypt, the number of ships arriving rising from fifteen in 1860 to 110 in 1870. (fn. 43) Regular sailings to Le Havre and Bordeaux were begun in the late sixties, but the expansion of Hull's trade with places outside Europe did not really begin until the 1870s and 1880s.
The shipping statistics which are available relate to the entrance and clearance of ships at Hull. In addition there is some evidence, though fragmentary, of Hull-owned ships which habitually traded with other British ports, and of Hull-owned ships sailing under foreign flags in the early years of this period. (fn. 44) Such ships contributed to the fortunes of Hull shipowners, and may have been manned by Hull seamen, but left no other mark on the economic development of the port.
Hull's economic development must be interpreted in relation to these well-established trading connexions rather than to the economic growth of the West Riding. Thus Hull's share of the country's imports of raw wool was minute: 13,000,000 out of a total import of 146,000,000 lb. in 1860, and 23,000,000 out of 461,000,000 lb. in 1880. (fn. 45) The only example of a trade directly stimulated by the West Riding woollen industry was the import of olive oil from Italy, Spain, and Portugal. The flax-spinning industry of Leeds was also supplied with Russian flax through Hull. (fn. 46)
The bulk of Hull's import trade in 1840, and throughout the 19th century, was in those raw materials which were traditionally imported from the Baltic: bar iron from Sweden, in the first half of the century, timber, grain, flax, linseed, and rape-seed. Hull's timber trade stood to gain from the general economic conditions of the 1840s. The tariff of 1842 reduced the preference given to British North American timber, and the duties were further reduced in 1847 and 1848. The railway boom of the 1840s also stimulated the demand for timber. By 1843, when there was complaint of overcrowding in the docks, particular emphasis was placed on the great inconvenience caused by the expanded timber trade; timber was unloaded into the water in the docks, and remained there to obstruct traffic. (fn. 47) Victoria Dock, opened in 1850, had a timber pond built near by soon after, and another was added in 1863. (fn. 48) Yet in 1853 Hull's timber imports, though substantial, did not amount to a large proportion of the total import of the United Kingdom: 4 per cent. of the squared timber and 12 per cent. of the deals. (fn. 49) Hull's share of total imports later in the century was much the same, probably because the heavy costs of inland transport made it desirable to send timber to the ports nearest to its ultimate destination.
Imports of wheat, oats, and, more particularly, barley were also considerable, for during the 1840s the greater part of Britain's supplies were drawn from Russian Poland and Prussia. But here again Hull's share of the total import was less than might have been expected in these circumstances: in 1860 about 5 per cent. of the wheat, 7 per cent. of the oats, and 21 per cent. of the barley imported into the United Kingdom came through Hull. (fn. 50) Hull's grain imports, both absolutely and relatively to other ports, did not show any marked development until after about 1880. (fn. 51) The grain trade, however, probably had a political importance in the life of the town in the 1830s and 1840s. Those years, notably 1837 to 1842, in which distress and disorder were elsewhere at their greatest, were also years of bad harvests and above-average imports. The total entrances of shipping at Hull, in thousand net tons, increased from 267 in 1835 to 299 in 1836, 301 in 1837, 316 in 1838, and 385 in 1839; they remained at around 350 for two years, before falling to 288 in 1842. (fn. 52) This activity in the port may explain why the political life of Hull remained unruffled by Chartism.
Hull's exports were also predominantly of those goods which went to northern Europe—a small proportion of the cotton and woollen manufactured goods, but a large proportion of the cotton and woollen yarn which were admitted by the Zollverein and Russian tariffs; and a large proportion of the national exports of 'machinery and millwork' (see Table 2).
Being concentrated to this extent on the Baltic, Hull's shipping trade had three features which it retained for most of the century: it was highly seasonal because of the freezing of the Baltic in winter; it suffered severely from the effects of European wars; and it had a persistent shortage of export cargoes. (fn. 53)
Industrial Development, 1835–70
The industrial development of Hull was largely determined by the growing trade of the port. Of this the clearest example is the group of industries which were based on the import of Russian linseed. By 1845 there were already nineteen seed-crushing firms in the town, and by 1858 the number had risen to twenty-eight. Associated with this was the large number of paint and colour manufacturers and dealers: fourteen in 1846 and eighteen in 1858. (fn. 54) Nevertheless, these industries, which were to be important in the later evolution of the town, did not as yet employ much labour: the Census of 1851 recorded only 200 men over 20 years old employed in oil-milling and paint manufacture. (fn. 55) The picture of corn-milling is similar: there were a dozen firms in 1831, rising to 30 in 1851. But total employment in what was to become one of Hull's principal industries by the end of the century was still exceedingly small: 105 men and boys in 1851, compared with 219 in Leeds. It seems probable that in the fifties and sixties the bulk of Hull's grain imports were forwarded inland.
Declared Values of Exports (£ millions) (fn. 513)
It was natural that these industries should become established in Hull, but, especially at the beginning of this period, there were attempts to introduce a much wider range of industries. In the boom year of 1845, for example, a worsted-mill and a sugarrefinery were projected, but failed to become established, and a foundry, a glassworks, and a plaster-mill were successfully begun. (fn. 56) By far the most important, however, in respect of both its duration in Hull and the employment it provided, was cotton-spinning and weaving. (fn. 57) Two mills were established, Hull Flax and Cotton Mill, in the Groves district, in 1836; and Kingston Cotton Mill, further up the River Hull, in Cumberland Street, in 1845. (fn. 58) Both were joint-stock companies, and both had local businessmen, rather than experienced people from Lancashire, on their boards of directors. Hull Flax and Cotton Mill was run in association with a fleet of sailing-ships owned by the manager, Joseph Rylands. (fn. 59) The establishment of these mills, so far from the Lancashire centre of the cotton industry, may be attributed to the initiative of local men who realized that substantial quantities of cotton yarn were exported from Hull and that port charges and production costs would be lower than in Lancashire. (fn. 60) Both companies were floated in boom years in the hope of a large return on capital. In striking contrast to the early history of the Hull and Selby Railway £73,000 of the £100,000 authorized capital of Hull Flax and Cotton Mill was subscribed within a week. (fn. 61) The numbers employed in the cotton industry were considerable: 971 men and 1,247 women in 1851, and 735 men and 1,179 women in 1861. (fn. 62) The labour for the mills came largely from Lancashire, a great many of the spinners in the 1851 Census returns giving birthplaces in Ireland or the Lancashire cotton towns. (fn. 63)
Both cotton firms had chequered histories. Hull Flax and Cotton Mill went into liquidation in 1857, was reconstituted in 1860 as New Hull Flax and Cotton Mills, and failed again, and finally, in 1866. Kingston Cotton Mill was periodically in difficulties in the 1850s, but survived until 1894. It is clear that the reason for these failures lay in the mills' management, rather than in any intrinsic difficulties involved in the spinning of cotton outside Lancashire. Both mills were larger than the national average, and both had been initially equipped with the newest machinery. Their managements, however, lacked the necessary knowledge of market conditions, both in the supply of raw material and in the demand for the finished products, which presumably would have been a matter of more common knowledge in Lancashire. (fn. 64) In this there is a strong contrast with the later history of grain-milling, where Joseph Rank was an acknowledged master of his trade. The mills may also have suffered from pressure by the shareholders to pay out too much in dividends and put too little to reserves: the banking crises of 1857 and 1866 both placed Hull Flax and Cotton Mill in difficulties. (fn. 65)
Shipbuilding was already long established in Hull. The period from 1835 to 1870 was that in which the use of steam and iron ships became general. In 1858 there were eleven shipbuilding firms in Hull, and in 1851 the industry had employed 623 men and boys. (fn. 66) Hull was not, therefore, a major shipbuilding centre like the towns of the northeast coast, and there was a general belief that the industry was in decline. In 1851 the Hull Advertiser opened a long discussion of the shortcomings of Hull shipbuilding. Between 1838 and 1850 the number of wooden ships built in Hull had declined, from an average of ten a year in 1838–42 to an average of five in 1843–50. In these years the large new steamships for the packet services to St. Petersburg and the Baltic were being built on the Clyde; generally speaking the building of iron steamships had hardly begun in Hull, and the old wooden shipbuilding and ship-repairing industry was in decay. (fn. 67) Locally it was believed that restrictive practices by the shipwrights had hastened the process. The master shipwrights' Good Intention Society, founded in 1824, regulated wages. It was stated in 1851 that 'for the last 20, 30, 40 or 50 years they have done, what perhaps has not been done elsewhere in any other trade in Hull, nor in any other port in the kingdom, i.e. they have agreed together not to compete either in their charges for materials or labour, but to make out all their bills according to certain fixed rates— so much for timber, so much for planks, so much for everything. This has been invariably the case for repairs, and holds equally good of the building of new vessels'. (fn. 68) Another complaint was of a similar kind—that joiners, by striking for higher wages whenever a new ship was ordered, drove business to firms in other ports. (fn. 69)
Iron shipbuilding on a significant scale was introduced into Hull by Martin Samuelson. He had begun his career as a railway engineer, and he set up an engineering works in Hull in 1849. In 1853 his firm expanded into iron shipbuilding, and thereafter grew very fast. By 1858 it was claimed that Samuelson's had built 39 iron steamers, and by 1864 the number had risen to 95. In 1863 'the firm built a larger number of vessels than any other firm in the kingdom'. In 1864 Samuelson sold out to a joint-stock company, the Humber Iron Works and Shipbuilding Company, which survived until 1866. Samuelson was an unusually forceful character, as is illustrated by the story that he broke a joiners' strike in his shipyard by importing labour from outside Hull. (fn. 70) The 1860s were the years in which steam began to be generally adopted by the Hull shipowners: how far Samuelson's prosperity was the result of this, or how far Samuelson himself popularized steamships in Hull, it would be hard to say. The second important iron shipbuilding firm was that of C. & W. Earle, which launched its first ship in 1853, and which by 1866 claimed to have built 100 ships. It seems probable that both firms were specialists in the manufacture of marine engines. (fn. 71)
Fishing Voyages from Hull, 1860–79 (fn. 514)
The whale fishery, which had prospered earlier in the century, gradually declined until very few ships were leaving Hull in the 1860s. (fn. 72) North Sea trawling, however, was successfully established in the 1840s. The early history of trawling from Hull is obscure: it seems to have passed unnoticed in the local press, and is known only from the reminiscences of old-established trawler-owners given before the Commission on Sea Fisheries of 1866 and the Commission on Steam Trawling of 1884–5. (fn. 73) It is clear, however, that the first trawlers migrated to Hull about 1845, the crews coming from Ramsgate and ultimately from Brixham. Their origin is confirmed by the Census of 1851, which records 313 men employed in fishing: the birthplaces of the fishermen, their wives, and their older children are in nearly every case given as Ramsgate or Brixham, showing that the colony was a recently established one. (fn. 74) The growth of Hull as a trawling centre was encouraged by the existence of rail communication with the West Riding after 1840, and the discovery of the immensely productive fishing-ground of the Great Silver Pit, only about 50 miles from Hull, in 1843. (fn. 75) The number of smacks sailing from Hull rose from 29 in 1845 to about 270 in 1863. (fn. 76) Employment in fishing rose correspondingly, from 4 men and boys in 1841 to 313 in 1851, 359 in 1861, 924 in 1871, 1,578 in 1881, and 1,299 in 1891. The Census enumerators did not record those who were at sea on the night of the Census, however, and more revealing are the figures of annual numbers of fishing voyages (see Table 3). They show a rapid rise to a clear peak in 1865, followed by voyages at a still high level until about 1870. From 1870 to 1880 there was a steady and very considerable increase. The figures suggest that a most important factor in the growth of Hull's fishing industry was the introduction of ice for preserving fish on board the smacks, since 1864 was the first year in which supplies were available cheaply in Hull through the newly-formed Hull Ice Company. (fn. 77) By 1878 six vessels were constantly employed in bringing ice from Norway. (fn. 78)
By the 1870s, therefore, trawling was firmly established, though it employed many fewer people than shipping. A list of the fishing fleet in 1878 shows that there were 76 smack-owners. Of these one or two were in business on a fairly large scale: John Holmes and Alfred Ansell, both of whom gave evidence before the Royal Commission of 1885, owned seventeen and eleven respectively in 1878. But the great bulk of the industry was in the hands of men who owned one or two boats, and who often fished from them themselves. (fn. 79) The system of payment by shares of the value of the catch, which the trawler-owners had brought with them from Brixham, was general. Fishing was tough and highly-paid, and there was endemic anxiety in Hull about the conditions in which apprentices and boys worked: complaints of brutality at sea, and drunkenness and immorality ashore, were made more serious by the fact that apprentices were frequently recruited from the workhouse, and this was a justifiable matter of public concern. The murder of two fisher boys at sea in 1881 and 1882 led to an outspoken newspaper campaign and an inquiry by the Board of Trade into local working conditions, after which little more complaint was heard. (fn. 80) In addition to the fishing industry itself there was from the beginning an ancillary growth of fish-curing in Hull, and the by-laws of the local board of health, published in 1852, included the regulation of fish-curing establishments. (fn. 81)
The fishing industry in Hull began slightly earlier than the industry in Grimsby on the other side of the Humber. The first trawlers migrated from Hull with the opening of Grimsby docks in 1858, and the industry in Grimsby grew rapidly thereafter in competition with Hull. It has been suggested that, at a time when speed in bringing fish from the fishing-ground to market was essential, Grimsby, facing the open sea at the mouth of the Humber, had a natural advantage over Hull. It was also repeatedly argued in Hull that the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway made efforts to foster the fishing industry in Grimsby which were not matched in Hull. (fn. 82)
The economic life of Hull thus shows certain distinctive characteristics. In Hull, unlike any other Yorkshire town of comparable size, industry was widely diversified, for shipping, shipbuilding, oil-milling, paint manufacture, fishing, and cotton manufacture were all substantial employers of labour by the end of this period. In addition there were all the ancillary occupations of a big port—the railway workers, barge- and lightermen, ships' chandlers, shipping clerks, and so on. In 1851 412 commercial clerks and 81 shipping agents were enumerated in Hull. (fn. 83) There were, too, the tanners and brewers, occupations to be found in most towns. Hull, however, was distinguished by the fact that in the 1850s and 1860s about 80 per cent. of the malt brewed in the Hull Excise Collection was handled by public brewers rather than by licensed victuallers—a much higher proportion than was to be found elsewhere in Yorkshire. (fn. 84) Finally, there was an unexpected industry in the organ factory of Messrs. Forster and Andrews, which had been founded in 1843 and which between 1864 and 1902 was making, on average, 25 new organs a year for churches both in England and abroad. (fn. 85)
Hull therefore did not suffer from the catastrophic changes of fortune suffered by the single-industry towns of Lancashire or the West Riding. There were, it is true, complaints in 1851 of the slackness of trade because north-eastern Europe had not yet recovered from the effects of the 1841 revolutions, in 1854–6 of the disruption caused by the Crimean War, and, surprisingly loudly, about the cotton famine of 1861–5. (fn. 86) But there was nothing like the mass unemployment in Lancashire in 1842.
Hull was also, on the whole, a town of small-scale as well as of diversified industry. The structure of the fishing industry, with its large number of smack-owners, has already been described. Among the oil- and corn-milling firms, none had become very big by 1870. The shipowners, until the explosive growth of the Wilson Line in the 1870s, mostly operated on a fairly small scale: of the 41 firms in Hull in 1878 only five had more than six ships each. (fn. 87) In the years 1840–70 it seems likely that the largest employers of labour were Blundell's paint-works, Earle's and Samuelson's shipyards, and the two cotton mills. (fn. 88) Among the employers of Hull, however, the shipowners stood out in their local influence and prestige, as was shown in the prolonged disputes about the construction of new docks.
A final characteristic of industry in Hull was the high proportion of jobs which were either seasonal or casual, or unusually uncertain in their prospects. There were 1,043 dockers in 1861 and 1,765 in 1871, and by 1901 they were the biggest occupational group in the town. (fn. 89) Their work was casual at all times, but the total volume of work in the docks also fluctuated seasonally, more so perhaps than elsewhere, for the Baltic, where so much of Hull's trade was done, is frozen during winter. The employment of seamen was seasonal for the same reason. Oil-milling and seed-crushing were also, in the 19th century at least, seasonal trades, for they were active in winter and slack in summer. This, together with another weakness in the pattern of employment, was noticed as early as 1841 by the Manchester Statistical Society, which observed that 'Hull affords less employment to females and children, and a more variable supply of work to men than the manufacturing districts'. (fn. 90) Thus, while there was little of the kind of unemployment which attracted political attention in the 19th century, Hull may have had plenty of the gross under-employment and insecurity of which sociologists first became aware in the time of Charles Booth.
The Corporation and the Dock Company, 1835–70
The insecurity of Hull's position in competition with Liverpool and the other Humber ports probably explains the particular acrimony with which questions of dock and railway policy were handled in this period. Disputes and negotiations were concentrated on two main topics, with each of which the corporation was immediately concerned— first the provision of new and enlarged docks, and secondly port charges and facilities, including dock dues, the corporation's own water-bailiff's dues, and navigation in the Humber.
The extension of docks raised problems similar to those of railway expansion. It was necessary to incur heavy capital expenditure for several years before any return could be obtained, and the extent to which receipts would increase as a result of additional dock space was inevitably speculative. The Hull Dock Company was a private, profit-making concern, and the shareholders could argue, reasonably in relation to their own interests but damagingly to the interests of the port as a whole, that one overcrowded dock was more profitable than two less crowded. Moreover, pressure on dock space is felt during a boom, but a dock built to relieve it may open during a subsequent slump, and prove an immediate disappointment to its promoters. This had happened with both Humber and Junction Docks and could well have happened again. (fn. 91)
The Dock Company in local eyes was a large and powerful corporation, the shareholders of which were predominantly strangers. Queen's Dock had been built in 1774, on land provided by the Crown, with a subscription of 120 shares of £250 each. Humber Dock had been paid for, half by direct contributions from the corporation and Trinity House and half by the sale of a further 60 shares. Junction Dock had been built partly out of the company's reserves, and partly with the aid of loans from the corporation and the Crown. The proprietors remained a small, isolated body, an easy target for public criticism. Many shares, it was said in 1859, had been bought or inherited by 'ladies and people living remote from Hull'; there were scarcely any shareholders 'who from the daily details of their business became practically acquainted with the wants and requirements' of the port. (fn. 92)
Besides the tension between the company and local interests, however, the location of new docks provoked bitter disputes. By 1843 four contending interests had emerged. First there were the owners of property on the river-side, including old commercial families like the Gibsons and the Maisters, who aimed to restore the old harbour, which was said in 1845 to be one of the most neglected in the country, as the centre of the town's commercial life. They planned to impound the Hull and turn the haven into a dock. Secondly, there were those who wished to build a new dock opening out of the west side of Humber Dock, close to the new railway terminus in Kingston Street, opened in 1840. Such a dock would be expensive to build, since the site was already partly built upon. A third group wished to see a line of docks developed parallel to the shore of the Humber to the west of the town, lying alongside the new railway. It was feared, however, that sufficient depth of water could not be maintained here without constant dredging. Finally, some wanted a new dock on a site 'most advantageously situate in point of depth of water and accessibility at the worst states of the tides'. The supporters of this plan, who included J. B. Hartley, the Dock Company's engineer, emphasized the needs of the bigger steamships of the 1840s and of the growing timber trade, for which they proposed to provide timber ponds. (fn. 93)
These projects were probably actuated by the immediate interests of the people concerned, but they illustrate the persistent conflict between the interests of shipping and railways and between those of railways and inland water navigation. The continuing importance of inland water transport after the Hull and Selby Railway had been opened is suggested by the system of freight charges in existence in Hull in the 19th century. The railway provided free lighterage from the docks to a depot built in 1840 at Limekiln Creek, near the railway terminus, in order to compete with the existing barge and keel traffic. The concession, once given, was later extended to goods taken by road from the docks to the railway, and to goods unloaded in the independent and competitive Alexandra Dock. (fn. 94)
The project for converting the River Hull into a dock was never carried out, but the idea was revived after the Second World War in the Lutyens and Abercrombie plan for Hull. (fn. 95) The second project was realized when Railway Dock opened in 1846 and the third with the building of Albert Dock (1869), William Wright Dock (1880), and St. Andrew's Dock (1883) along the western foreshore; while the plan to build to the east of the Citadel led to the construction of Victoria Dock (1850). As early as 1843 it was possible to foresee a major inconvenience in the town's growth, namely that a deep-water dock could only be maintained down the Humber to the east of Hull and that goods handled there would have to be carried inland, whether by rail or road, through the middle of the town.
In spite of public agitation, the Hull Docks Act of 1844 confirmed the Dock Company's powers in all essential respects, including its right to levy 'outward wharfage', though the Act entitled the Board of Trade to reduce the rates if the yield exceeded £6,000 gross in a year. (fn. 96) In building Victoria and Railway Docks, which together cost over £700,000, the company again avoided the creation of further ordinary capital and issued debentures at 4 per cent. (fn. 97) This burdened it with heavy fixed-interest charges, as it discovered during the Crimean War, when the ordinary dividend was cut, and also meant the perpetuation of the hostility with which Hull shipping interests viewed the company's proprietors. Victoria Dock covered 12¾ acres and Railway Dock 2¾ acres; the engineer for both was J. B. Hartley. (fn. 98)
During the 1850s the conflict switched from the question of dock accommodation to the dues levied on goods and shipping. This was an attack both on the dues levied by the company, and on those levied by the corporation and Trinity House, and it was not peculiar to Hull: a similar agitation against the town dues was taking place in Liverpool at the same time, and the whole question was investigated by two parliamentary committees. (fn. 99) In Hull the agitation led in 1852 to a reduction of 20 per cent. in the rates levied by the Dock Company; the abolition of the dues levied by the corporation on goods, though not of those on shipping, which represented an immediate reduction of about £2,800; and a reduction by about £5,000 of Trinity House's dues. These reductions came into force in 1853; substantial amounts, however, were still payable to the corporation, and contributions from the Exchequer continued. In 1866–7 nearly a third, that is £7,379, of the income of the borough fund still came from this source. Ten years later its income from shipping had dropped to under £3,000, presumably because the rates had again been drastically cut. (fn. 100)
In 1859–61 the attack on the Dock Company was revived in full force. After the end of the Crimean War the volume of shipping entering the port grew dramatically: the company's gross receipts rose from £62,000 in 1855 to £83,000 in 1857. There were again complaints that the docks were congested, and that Queen's and Prince's Docks were too shallow to accommodate the larger steamers. The financial mismanagement of the company became the main target of attack: it had cut its dividend in 1855, but had amply recouped itself in the post-war boom in Hull (see Table 4). (fn. 101) Such a policy entailed putting little or nothing into its reserves, and made it very difficult for the company to delay building a new dock on the ground of poverty.
Controversy again arose over the site of the proposed new dock. In 1858, when the Citadel was up for sale, (fn. 102) the corporation was determined that it should not pass into the hands of the Dock Company, although the Commissioners of Woods and Forests were in favour of selling to the company. (fn. 103) In 1859 the company made an abortive attempt to build a dock there. Two years later opposition to a dock on the Citadel site took a new form, when an independent rival, the West Dock Company, was formed to promote a Bill to build a dock along the waterfront to the west of the Humber Dock. It is a measure of the deep and widespread feelings in the town that the new company included among its promoters the mayor, Zachariah Pearson, two directors of the North Eastern Railway, and nearly every notable shipowner in the town. (fn. 104)
Dock Company Ordinary Dividend, 1845–59 (fn. 515)
In the session of 1861 three Bills were presented to Parliament: the Hull West Docks Bill, and two promoted by the Dock Company which went a long way towards meeting criticism. Of these Parliament accepted the proposals of the Dock Company. The Hull Docks Act, (fn. 105) in the form in which it was finally passed, remodelled completely the financial structure of the company. As a result local people, who had complained of the high price of old shares and of the infrequency with which they came on the market, had a better chance of acquiring a stake in the company and having an influence on its policy. The company undertook to build a new dock, not on the Citadel site but on the western site favoured by local opinion. It also submitted to new, severe, financial restrictions, involving the reduction of outward wharfage rates and a limitation of dividend. Furthermore, the Exchequer grant to the company in compensation for the loss of differential duties was abolished; and the corporation was given power to seek parliamentary sanction to transfer the docks to a municipally owned dock trust at any time. (fn. 106)
Western Dock, which was named Albert Dock at its opening in 1869, covered 17 acres; the chief engineer was John Hawkshaw and the resident engineer J. C. Hawkshaw. (fn. 107) The West Dock Company was wound up, and for another twenty years the idea of a competing company was shelved. The comment of the Board of Trade's inspector on the project proved in the end entirely correct: 'It will however probably be carefully considered by Parliament whether, where the local sites are in such close contact, and likewise interests concentrated as at Hull, competition will have the same beneficial effect as it has in such a port as London, where the interests are so different, and the situations for docks so scattered and numerous. It is possible that competition may lead in the first place to a conflict ruinous to all parties and that this may end in an amalgamation injurious to the public.' The controversy also served to draw public attention to the extent to which local bodies were still benefiting from Exchequer grants.
In 1865 there was a revival of the dispute, when a Bill to set up a dock trust was promoted and was defeated in Parliament. (fn. 108) In the same year the Dock Company obtained powers to build an extension to Albert Dock, which was opened in 1880 as William Wright Dock. (fn. 109) The reorganization of the company's capital had, as had been hoped, introduced new blood into the board of directors which in 1866 included a new chairman, William Wright, and five of the promoters of the West Dock Company, J. R. Ringrose, John Lumsden, J. W. Pease, Samuel Priestman, and Thomas Wilson. (fn. 110)
Thus between 1835 and 1870 a prolonged struggle between the Dock Company and local interests had ended with greater local control and closer statutory limitations on the Dock Company, but with no fundamental change in the structure of ownership. The belief that Hull was at a disadvantage compared with other ports was as strong as ever: the difference now was that the role of alien monopolist was henceforth to be played chiefly by the North Eastern Railway.
Public Health and Poor Law, 1835–70
The administrative problems created by the growth of Hull from a town of nearly 12,000 houses in 1831 to one of over 20,000 in 1861 were similar to those of most 19thcentury industrial towns: all such towns needed improved public services, measures for the relief of poverty and unemployment, and better provision for education, recreation, and worship. With the exception of the poor law, the response to these demands depended on local initiative.
Between 1835 and 1870 the growth in population took place outside the Old Town; the closely-packed population of this district increased merely from 15,000 in 1831 to 17,000 in 1861, and then declined to 11,000 in 1881. But there was a very considerable increase in North Myton and an even larger one in South Myton, the district lying on both sides of Hessle Road, which grew from 15,000 in 1831 to 54,000 in 1871. To the north, in the former parish of Sculcoates, which was incorporated within the borough boundaries in 1837, the population grew from 13,000 in 1831 to 34,000 in 1871, the increase being particularly marked in the district to the east of Beverley Road, near the cotton-mills, oil-mills, and other industrial establishments along the west bank of the River Hull. To the east of the river, the parish of Drypool, including the area north of Victoria Dock, grew from 1,821 in 1831 to 6,617 in 1861, and then almost doubled to 12,425 in 1871. (fn. 111)
In Hull, as elsewhere, authority was divided among a number of bodies in the mid19th century. The corporation directly administered the police force and the water supply. Drainage, fire prevention, street lighting, and paving continued until 1851 to be in the hands of two separate bodies: the Sculcoates Commissioners, set up in 1801, and the Hull and Myton Commissioners, established in 1810. (fn. 112) The levying of rates in the Old Town and the practical execution of the Act of 1810 lay with assessors elected under a very broad franchise, that is by the occupiers of houses of the annual value of £3. (fn. 113) As with the reform of the franchise in 1832, the adoption of the Public Health Act of 1848 had the effect of restricting the franchise to a specifically middle-class electorate; but it does not follow from this that the old commissioners were more enlightened in their public-health administration. To the east of the river the parish of Drypool lay outside the scope of both bodies of commissioners.
The administration of the poor law was also divided between Hull and Sculcoates The old Hull workhouse in Whitefriargate, Charity Hall, was run after 1824 under a local Act by a board of guardians elected by all householders. (fn. 114) Under the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 the Corporation of the Poor in Hull was made formally subject to control by the Poor-Law Commissioners in London, though in practice the Hull Guardians remained relatively free from control until about 1850. (fn. 115) Sculcoates, however, was made in 1837 the centre of a new poor-law union. (fn. 116) The differing status of the two bodies produced much friction in the 1840s. Thus the administration of the town west of the river was divided between five authorities, and for the sanitary administration of the area east of the river there was no body responsible at all.
An early investigation of social conditions in Hull was undertaken by the Manchester Statistical Society. (fn. 117) It was based on house-to-house visits by an 'intelligent agent', and is therefore more informative in some respects than the governmental inquiries of the later forties. The agent, who was suspiciously received by 'Chartists, Socialists, and Irish', stated that 'Hull affords less employment to females and children, and a more variable supply of work to men than the manufacturing districts. It also contains a far less proportion of immigrants from Wales and Scotland'. He also noticed the comparative rarity of large tenements, and the almost total absence of cellar dwellings, of which he found only fifteen. As a result 'the separation of families is more distinct and the system of taking lodgers less generally practised'. This favourable circumstance may be attributed to the marshy ground on which Hull is built, making the use of cellars and basements impossible and the erection of buildings of more than two stories an expensive and precarious undertaking.
The inquiry made in 1844 by James Smith, of the General Board of Health, for the Royal Commission on Large Towns and Populous Districts was also surprisingly favourable. (fn. 118) Though he noticed, for example, old streets and congested courtyards, he observed that many of these were 'washed as clean as the deck of a ship'. He noticed the water supply problem, the difficulties created by the open land drains which traversed the town, and the lack of sewerage outside the Old Town; but he was impressed by the system whereby the sewers in the Old Town were flushed at low tide by water taken from the docks. He praised the arrangement which, in theory at least, involved 400 men and boys in the regular collection of night-soil, and he praised the fact that public baths had been built and were popular. 'Hull, upon the whole, as a seaport town', he concluded, 'is respectable as to cleanliness, yet far from the desirable standard.'
The falsity of these impressions was shown during, and even before, the cholera epidemic of 1849, and it is significant that it was the local doctors and sanitary reformers who first diagnosed the real evils of the town. In the autumn of 1847 the news of cholera in Russia arrived in Hull. There was general alarm: the corporation pushed forward the building of its public baths; and a group of local doctors formed themselves into a sanitary committee which proceeded to a more thorough review of the town. (fn. 119) In this investigation, as in the poor-law agitation of these years and the great drainage controversy of the fifties, much of the initiative and the publicity may be traced to the work of E. F. Collins, the editor of the Hull Advertiser. (fn. 120) Collins was perhaps the most influential figure in the formation of liberal opinion in Hull: 'the twenty-four years he dwelt in the town were pre-eminently years of public usefulness, and it is no exaggeration to say that no man in Hull, before or since, wielded so much power as he, or wielded it so well or so wisely'. (fn. 121) He edited the Advertiser, which in 1841 had a circulation of 4,288 compared with 9,038 for the Leeds Mercury, (fn. 122) from 1841 until 1866. He was born in Ireland, and was at the same time a Roman Catholic and a Philosophic Radical, having been a secretary and disciple of Joseph Hume. From this unusual combination of qualities came the effectiveness of his editorial influence. He propounded free trade, fought for the control of the Hull workhouse by the poor-law board, and supported the drainage scheme recommended by the General Board of Health. Furthermore, he campaigned for the very poor, many of whom were immigrant Irish cottonspinners, (fn. 123) for the promotion of temperance, and for the reduction of anti-Catholic or anti-Jewish local prejudice. Among the doctors of the sanitary committee, the leading figure was Henry Cooper, who was then physician to the Hull Infirmary and a man of great influence. He was Mayor of Hull in 1853–5, was knighted during his first year of office, and became the first president of the Hull School Board, in 1870. (fn. 124)
The sanitary committee was the first body to give a clear description of the exceptional difficulties which the sanitary reform of Hull would entail. (fn. 125) The geographical situation of the town, on the margin of a large area of low-lying ground, much of it below high-water mark at spring tides, has created difficulties in drainage and water supply up to the present day. Drainage was complicated by two factors. First, the town was traversed by a number of open agricultural drains. And secondly, sewage could be made to flow efficiently into the Humber only by the construction of deep sewers and the provision of pumping stations at the outlets—both expensive undertakings, unpalatable to the ratepayer. Thus in early Victorian Hull the line of least resistance had led to the construction of short sewers outside the Old Town emptying into the open land drains, and these drains in turn flowed into the River Hull, which is itself tidal in its lower reaches.
The municipal water supply, which derived from springs at the edge of the chalk wolds at Anlaby, had for many years been inadequate for the needs of a growing population, although new and more efficient pumping machinery had been provided in 1830. It was not believed at that time that the supply could be further increased, and the alternative was to draw supplies from the River Hull. A waterworks committee had been appointed in 1838, and after long debate had decided in favour of a new waterworks at Stoneferry which would withdraw water from the river. Contemporary chemical tests suggested that at this point the water would not be polluted, though in point of fact this was possible at certain states of the tide. The new waterworks were opened in 1845. (fn. 126)
These were the inescapable sanitary problems of Hull in modern times: both the sewage system and the water supply, if it were to draw upon the River Hull sufficiently high up to avoid pollution, could be made fully efficient only at excessive cost. The sanitary committee fully realized the defects of the drainage system, though they were unable to foresee the full dangers to the water supply.
The committee at the same time drew attention to other squalid practices which were more easily improved and were common to most large towns. Smith had been impressed by the apparently efficient scavenging: but the truth was very different. The small contractors visited houses irregularly and took the night-soil to what were known as 'muck-garths'—dumps, in one case of about three acres in extent, where it was left to decompose in the open air in an area surrounded by houses. Again, the sanitary committee drew attention for the first time to the overcrowded churchyards of St. Mary's and Holy Trinity. The provision of burial-grounds was one of the few matters on which local initiative had kept well abreast of public opinion; a cemetery company had been formed and a cemetery opened in 1847. (fn. 127)
There was therefore a strong body of sanitary reformers in Hull, but its influence on events seems to have been negligible. By the summer of 1848 cholera was raging in Hamburg, whence ships traded regularly with Hull, (fn. 128) and in September two sailors from the Hamburg steamer Pallas were stricken with cholera in Hull. During the winter of 1848–9, however, little more was heard of the disease. In February 1849, Hull having petitioned for the Public Health Act of 1848 to be applied to the town, a further local inquiry was made by James Smith. (fn. 129) His report followed closely that of the sanitary committee, but it did not deal with the cholera risk.
The epidemic began in earnest in the summer of 1849 and reached its peak in the first three weeks of September, when more than 500 people were dying weekly. The total number of deaths was 1,834, or 24.1 per mille, the highest rate in the country. (fn. 130) A grim description of the suffering, disorganization, and fear in the town is given by James Sibree, who was chaplain to the Hull General Cemetery Company. (fn. 131) It proved to be a disease of the very poor, a street-by-street analysis of the deaths showing that by far the largest number had occurred in the narrow courts and alleys, particularly off Hessle Road. (fn. 132)
How far, granted the existing ignorance of the way in which the disease was spread, preventive measures would have reduced the mortality cannot be judged, but it is certain that such precautions as were possible were disregarded. Dr. Sutherland, of the General Board of Health, visited Hull in July and made recommendations to the two boards of poor-law guardians—the bodies responsible under the Nuisance Removal Acts. Two months later, with the epidemic at its height, he returned at the request of the local doctors, and has left a vivid account of what he found. Things were bad in Sculcoates, but very much worse in Hull itself: 'the guardians of the united parishes of Holy Trinity and St. Mary's I found had taken not one step to carry out the arrangements to which they had agreed two months before. They had still no house of refuge, they had closed all the dispensaries, their medical attendance was insufficient, they had employed no house-to-house visitors, they had lime-washed no houses, they had organized no cleansing staff, and what was worse than all, they appeared to have arrived at the conclusion that cholera was a divine judgment utterly beyond human aid, and against which no means of life could be of any avail'. (fn. 133)
Sutherland placed the blame on the local administration: the doctors themselves had worked devotedly, and after his visit preventive measures were belatedly introduced— in Sculcoates Union under the control of Henry Cooper, and in Hull under that of Joseph Ayre. Obstruction came from higher up, from the boards of guardians and the magistracy. The 'muck-garths' had been generally condemned: Sutherland wrote that 'in the whole course of a pretty extensive experience, it has never been my lot to be brought into contact with a state of things altogether so abominable, or considering the present state of public health, so dangerous'. (fn. 134) Administrative weaknesses were again responsible. In Sculcoates the guardians had secured a hundred convictions under the Nuisance Removal Act, yet they had applied to the courts for enforcement against one person only, and the magistrates had refused the application. The situation was in fact a classic example of a state of affairs which Chadwick and his officers were determined to destroy.
The epidemic naturally strengthened the hands of the sanitary reformers: 'cholera', wrote Collins in the Hull Advertiser, 'is a physical evil to be combatted by physical remedies. To combat it, or rather to prevent its approach . . . we must clear out such places as Stewart's Yard, Broad Entry, and Narrow Entry, where the people are weekly poisoned with foul smells and nauseous impurities as patent to the senses of all men as Hull itself'. (fn. 135) In any case, the death-rate, which had varied between 23.75 per mille in 1845 and 35 per mille in 1840, brought the town within the compulsory provisions of the Public Health Act of 1848. (fn. 136)
By a provisional order in 1851, the town council was constituted the local board of health. Between 1851 and 1875 the local board was elected by the same process as the town council, but appears to have levied separate rates and to have had a separate administration, with Robert Wells, previously clerk to the Hull Guardians, as its first clerk. The board began energetically, one of its first acts being to prepare plans for the eastern drainage scheme. It also prepared, during its first two years, a comprehensive programme of improvement which, since the powers provided by the Act of 1848 did not cover all its requirements, led to the promotion of a Bill in Parliament in 1854.
The disputes over this Bill and over the drainage question produced the real division in local politics in the 1850s. After the Municipal Reform Act there had been a solid body of reformers on the council; now they themselves were divided between those willing to see greater public expenditure and those who resisted it. The leading sanitary reformers were some of the doctors, led by Sir Henry Cooper, Councillor Middleton and his friend Collins of the Advertiser, and some prosperous businessmen—Blundell, the paint manufacturer, and Moss and Samuelson, the shipbuilders. Their opponents were less distinguished but greater in number—representatives of the shopkeepers and owners of working-class housing, such as Councillor Newton: 'I know the board of health touches my pocket, and when you touch my pocket you touch my heart.' These people, the 'muck interest' as the Advertiser described them, also drew support from the owners of agricultural land, mainly in east Hull, included within the borough boundaries in 1837, who could see no benefit to themselves in the proposals. (fn. 137) They were also supported by the vested interests which now saw themselves to be threatened.
The Bill of 1854, as it was first drafted, contained three important proposals: the municipalization of the gas supply, the existing supply being in the hands of three costly and allegedly inefficient undertakings; the purchase by the local board of the General Cemetery Company; and the ending of the system whereby houses let for less than £6 a year under the Hull and Myton Act and £8 under the Sculcoates Act were derated. All three proposals roused violent opposition when a public meeting against the Bill was held in May 1854: 'the scene was altogether beyond the power of pen to describe. Upwards of 300 persons probably were speaking at once, addressing the chair'. (fn. 138) The proposals had had the strong support of the General Board of Health, but the central board was itself under parliamentary attack in 1854, and the proposals relating to derating and the purchase of the gas supply were opposed and finally abandoned. The Act as finally passed in that year provided that the local board might acquire the cemetery company by negotiation, but no action to this end was taken. It also empowered the board to provide municipal cemeteries, and introduced building regulations. (fn. 139)
The drastic treatment given to the Bill was a turning-point in the history of public administration in Hull: municipal ownership was not proposed again, except for the docks, until the 1880s. During the 1850s and 1860s the local board spent money on paving and street improvements and went slowly to work on the provision of a system of sewerage. But the victory of the ratepaying interests was made clear in 1859 when Wells retired on being appointed town clerk, and was replaced by C. S. Todd, the secretary of the cemetery company, who had been a leading opponent of the Bill of 1854. In 1862 he could boast that since he had taken office he had reduced the rates from 2s. to 1s. 6d. and had turned the local board's debt of £8,500 into a surplus of over £8,000. (fn. 140)
The Hull drainage controversy may be divided into two phases. A scheme for the district east of the River Hull was approved by the General Board of Health in July 1853 and immediately carried out. It provided, at a cost of nearly £20,000, for drains falling at a gradient of four feet a mile to the Humber, where the central board held that pumping was necessary to maintain the outflow of sewage at all states of the tide. The drainage system was built, but in view of the cost of operation the steam pumps were omitted; according to the inspector sent from London the money spent on the eastern drainage had been 'utterly thrown away'. (fn. 141)
In 1855 there was produced the first of several reports on the drainage of the western district, recommending the use of small round-bottomed self-cleaning sewers, which Chadwick was advocating, and a pumping system to discharge sewage into the Humber. But by 1855 the panic engendered by the cholera outbreak had faded: in the epidemic of 1854, which had affected London severely, Hull had escaped with only 27 deaths. (fn. 142) The western scheme was variously estimated to cost between £14,500 and £20,000 and the urge to save the rates was again uppermost. Between 1855 and 1860 five different engineers prepared plans, and four of them held that pumping was necessary. In 1858 the fifth, C. F. Butler, assistant surveyor to the local board, prepared a plan which omitted the use of pumps.
Successive inspectors of the General Board of Health, and of its successor the Local Government Act Office, condemned the plan without pumping. They were powerless to prevent its being put into effect, but without their support the local board of health could not get a loan from the Public Works Loan Board, which would have been on better terms than those available in the open market. In defence of the 'muck interest' it could be argued that the loans for the eastern drainage scheme had borne heavily on the ratepayers, for they had been at 5 per cent., repayable over 30 years: (fn. 143) later, in the 1880s, the corporation was to be empowered to negotiate loans repayable over 50 years. Finally, in June 1862, with the weakening of central authority which followed the abolition of the General Board of Health, the consent of the Secretary of State was obtained for Butler's plan, and a loan of £21,000 repayable over 30 years was obtained. Two final points, both illustrating the bitterness of the controversy, may be noticed: first, that the plan was adopted by the local board in direct opposition to the recommendation of their current surveyor, J. F. Sharp, (fn. 144) and secondly, that some members of the board were prepared, if sanction for a loan could not be obtained, to get the money for Butler's plan by a direct levy on the ratepayers for three years. The system of drainage by gravitation alone survived until the local public health agitation of the 1880s. (fn. 145)
The local board of health carried out many other tasks in addition to the construction of a sewerage system. It was responsible for the inspection of lodging-houses and of offensive trades, both numerous in a big seaport. It also imposed building regulations. It was responsible, too, for providing the first public parks in Hull. The first 'public walk' had been the tree-lined Spring Bank, constructed in 1855 after part of the Spring Ditch had been filled in. Earlier an abortive attempt had been made to construct a line of boulevards round the town, with building sites to be sold on either side of it; the Grand Victoria Promenade Company was provisionally registered in 1845, but the scheme went no further. (fn. 146) The first park, the 'People's Park', later known as Pearson Park, was begun in 1860. The site was presented by Alderman Zachariah Pearson, a shipowner and mayor in 1859–60, and the site was laid out by the local board, Pearson retaining, and selling at a profit, a strip of building land around it. (fn. 147) A municipal cemetery was provided on land immediately to the west of the privately-owned General Cemetery and opened in 1862, intramural burial having been abolished in 1855. (fn. 148) The state of the churchyards had been criticized by James Smith in his second report. In addition the board carried out much street improvement, mainly the widening of streets in the Old Town. By 1866 the board had spent £108,000 and had a loan debt of £43,000. (fn. 149)
The municipal water supply was separately administered by the water committee of the town council. During the 1860s it was faced with the need to increase supplies. After the cholera epidemic the water supply from Stoneferry became suspect, and there were complaints of its quality: 'only drink a glass tonight and then you will find what the poor has to drink', wrote 'a poor man who has had his tea spoiled tonight'. (fn. 150) Expert opinion was sharply divided on the question whether it was possible to increase the supply at Anlaby. A London engineer, and others who were consulted, held that it would be impossible to do so, while a local man, William Warden, proposed to bore an artesian well there which he claimed would produce an abundant supply. The decision whether or not to spend money on further experiment at Anlaby became an issue of local politics: the more radical opinion in the town, as expressed by the South Myton Reform Association, being strongly in favour of Warden's experiments. (fn. 151) In August 1860 the first results from the artesian borings were obtained, the supply being increased to about 4,500,000 gallons a day. Pumping machinery was installed at Springhead, and in July 1862 the new supply was formally inaugurated. In 1865 the supply from the river was shut off, and the reservoirs at Stoneferry were thenceforth supplied from Springhead. For the remainder of the century neither the quantity nor the quality of the water supply presented a serious problem to the town. (fn. 152)
In the history of the poor-law administration the independent conservatism of the town's governing class is seen at its best: the extension of control by the Poor-Law Board in London was bitterly resisted, and resisted on the whole in defence of methods more humane than those commonly practised and based on a keen insight into the character of local pauperism.
The Sculcoates Union, formed in 1837, included the northern and eastern suburbs of Hull and a wide agricultural area, from Hedon in the east to Welton in the west, having a boundary with the Beverley Union to the north. In 1842 a new workhouse was built on Beverley Road. (fn. 153) The Hull Corporation of the Poor had a more eventful history. During the 1840s it remained semi-independent of control from London; but this situation was under constant attack from local reformers, led by Councillor Middleton and, especially, by Collins, who lost no opportunity of giving publicity in his newspaper to cases of alleged maladministration. 'It is a fact all but universally admitted as indisputable', he wrote, 'that local Acts for administering relief to the poor are local nuisances or something worse.' (fn. 154) Thus he reported a proposal to return unemployed Irish cotton-workers to their native villages and informed the Poor-Law Board in London of it: as a result the proposal was defeated. He also reported various cases of inefficiency or immorality which came to light among the workhouse staff. The Hull Guardians were brought under closer control from Whitehall as the result of a combination of circumstances—the weakness of the local guardians in the cholera epidemic; the objections of residents to the existence of a fever hospital in the heart of the town; and, the deciding factor, a case in which a woman, refused admission to the workhouse, gave birth to a child in Whitefriargate, which was built up in the local press into a major scandal. A new workhouse was built on Anlaby Road, on what were then the outskirts of the town, and occupied in 1852; and there was a consistent tightening and economizing in workhouse administration. It became 'illegal' to celebrate Hull Fair with plumpudding for the paupers and pennies for the children, while tea and tobacco allowances and week-end leave of absence for the aged were cut out, not without considerable local protest. Finally there was a systematic replacement of the old workhouse staff by people appointed with the approval of the Poor-Law Board. (fn. 155)
The climax of the struggle came with the attempted abolition by the Poor-Law Board of outdoor relief. The arguments put forward, both in Hull and Sculcoates, are important for the picture they give of the social structure of the town, since it is clear that the workhouse provided no solution to the abnormally large amount of casual or seasonal employment. A petition from Sculcoates in 1842 argued that 'the general trade of that port is very fluctuating and uncertain. And one week a merchant there may have employment for many hands (when he has a ship arrives) and then may be many weeks or months before he could find employment for them, so that the labouring poor of Sculcoates have but few of them any certain master, the great bulk of them subsisting by day's work done first for one person and then another . . . and another large portion consists of the sailors who can only get employment during those months in which the northern ports of the continent are not frozen up'. (fn. 156) A similar petition was sent by the Hull Guardians in 1852. (fn. 157) Both described a situation which it was difficult to fit into orthodox poor-law policy: men could not be both in the workhouse and searching for employment on the docks. Such protests met with no explicit acceptance from London, but outdoor relief continued on a substantial scale. The numbers relieved in the half-year ending at Lady Day 1851 were 839 indoor and 4,697 outdoor: the numbers relieved in the week ending at 1 January 1876 were 841 and 2,841 respectively. (fn. 158)
Religion and Education, 1835–70
The evangelical tradition in Hull continued late into the 19th century. (fn. 159) The Anglican clergy were almost solidly evangelical, both Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists were very strong, and Roman Catholics were few in number and the object of persistent public suspicion in the town. (fn. 160) Two of the evangelicals who had been prominent earlier in the century (fn. 161) continued to be active—Thomas Dykes until 1847 and John King until 1858. (fn. 162)
The need for new churches continued, and in the 1830s, and more especially the 1840s, the scale of church-building in Hull was enlarged. Like St. James's before them, and unlike St. John's and Christ Church, several of the new churches were planted in working-class districts. (fn. 163) St. Stephen's was near to the overcrowded, and later Irish, district of Mill Street. St. Paul's catered for another densely populated industrial district round Cannon Street. St. Mark's was an object of special concern, as it was designed to cater for the immigrant cotton-workers in the Groves district, who included a high proportion of Roman Catholics. The needs of the working class continued to be met, too, by the Mariners' Church. This was run in association with a mission to sailors 'the members of which', it was stated in 1866, 'visit every vessel in the port, the Sailors' Home, and the sailors' lodging-houses, every Sunday, and distribute a religious tract to each sailor in his own language'. (fn. 164)
At this time the building of new churches was carried forward with some energy in Hull, and in 1851 there was a total of 12,830 sittings in Anglican churches in the borough for a population of 84,690. (fn. 165) Church-building was not, however, accompanied by the parallel creation of new parishes. Of the seven churches opened between 1791 and 1847 only two, St. Mark's and St. Paul's, obtained full parochial status. In the remaining churches finance was precarious and this could lead to embarrassing consequences, as during the discussions on the prohibition of intramural burials in the 1840s, when the clergy of St. James's Church complained that it could not afford to do without the revenue from the sale of burial vaults. (fn. 166) For the failure to create new parishes in the enormous parish of Holy Trinity the opposition of the incumbent, J. H. Bromby, must chiefly be blamed. (fn. 167)
A further characteristic of church organization in Hull is seen in the structure of ecclesiastical patronage, and it is here that the influence of the evangelicals could most effectively be maintained. The patronage of most churches was under evangelical control, and this ensured that there were few loopholes through which Puseyism could gain entry into Hull. The weakest element in the whole situation lay in Holy Trinity itself, for three of the new churches were in the gift of its incumbent. Bromby was broad church rather than evangelical in his sympathies: 'In his earliest years he met with much opposition from the evangelical portion of the church, because he was considered by them only a moral and philosophical preacher.' (fn. 168) Had Bromby had a normal career this would not have mattered so much, but he lived to a great age. He had been instituted to Holy Trinity in 1797 at the age of 27, and did not retire until 1867 at the age of 96. Thus the evangelical control of patronage in Hull had remained incomplete for a generation. At the archbishop's visitation of 1865 it was held that the Church of England was weak in Hull for three causes: that the Vicar of Hull was old and 'incapacitated for active service', that three churches still had neither parochial status nor legal districts, and that while there was now need for five new churches, there were barely the funds for one. (fn. 169)
The Methodists were the second most numerous religious body in Hull. The Wesleyans, however, were relatively few at the beginning of the century, their period of expansion coming after 1870. There were 2,486 Wesleyans in 1835, a number which rose only to 2,489 twenty years later; by 1875 there were 4,598. (fn. 170) Before the death of William Clowes in 1851, however, the town became one of the strongholds of the Primitive Methodist movement. The morning attendance, including children at Sunday school, recorded for the borough in the 'Religious Census' of 1851 was 2,714 for the Primitive Methodists, compared with 4,123 for the Wesleyans. (fn. 171) The Primitive Methodists in Hull remained a predominantly working-class body: 'Their singing processions through the streets, and their camp meetings in the Corporation Field, together with their earnest preaching of the gospel made great impressions on the humbler classes, and drew thousands beneath their banners.' It is noticeable that, in sharp contrast with the Wesleyans in Hull, no prominent citizens are mentioned in the reports of the Primitive Methodists. (fn. 172)
The Congregationalists were also numerous, recording an attendance of nearly 3,000 at their morning services in 1851, but the other nonconformist denominations were very much fewer in numbers, though they included some prominent Hull people. A Unitarian minister, George Lee, was editor and proprietor of the Rockingham, (fn. 173) and Henry Blundell, founder of the paint firm, was a prominent member of the congregation. (fn. 174) J. M. Dixon, Unitarian minister from 1866 to 1883, was prominent in radical politics, and entertained Bradlaugh and Holyoake when they visited Hull. (fn. 175) The Quakers included the founders of two notable Hull firms, Isaac Reckitt and Samuel Priestman. The first of several foreign churches in Hull, which catered for both residents in the town and visiting seamen, was the German Lutheran church, in existence by the 1840s.
The history of the remaining major religious groups, the Roman Catholics and the Jews, is closely bound up with the economic development of the town. Both, to a large extent, drew their support from immigrant populations. There were few Jews in Hull in the earlier 19th century, but after the revolutions of 1848 in eastern Europe the number of immigrants began to increase, as is suggested by the building of a larger synagogue in 1852 and by the evidence of the Census of 1851. (fn. 176) For the most part the Hull Jews were small dealers and craftsmen, many living in a state of chronic poverty. There were, however, some exceptions: Isaac Lyon, a surgeon at the infirmary, and two powerful figures on the town council, William Moss, solicitor to the Dock Company and mayor in 1856 and 1862, and Martin Samuelson, the iron ship-builder, mayor in 1858. (fn. 177) But the massive emigrations from eastern Europe, which brought serious problems to the Jewish population of Hull, were still in the future.
The Roman Catholics had built St. Charles's Church in 1829, at the time of Roman Catholic emancipation. During the following 30 years the number of Roman Catholics in the town grew, largely as a result of the establishment of cotton-mills, which employed a considerable amount of Irish labour. The number recorded in 1851 was about 1,200, and a mission church in Wilton Street, near to the cotton-mills, was opened in 1856. In the evangelical and nonconformist atmosphere of Hull it is not surprising that this growth should have been viewed with dismay and suspicion. The fact that the editor of the Hull Advertiser was himself a Roman Catholic has ensured that the tension and recrimination between Protestants and Catholics should be better recorded than any other facet of Hull's religious life: for he omitted no opportunity of defending his church against attack. Two notable secessions from the Church of England to Rome provoked strong feeling: in 1851 Thomas Dykes's grandson, Thomas, curate of Holy Trinity, seceded, and was tactless enough to return as a Jesuit, in about 1857, to assist in a mission at St. Charles's. (fn. 178) In 1854 the conversion of Robert Wilberforce, second son of William Wilberforce and Archdeacon of the East Riding, was a second bitter blow to the evangelical clergy of Hull. (fn. 179)
In general the Anglican evangelicals and the nonconformists of Hull were not prominent in campaigns for the improvement of social conditions. The members of the sanitary committee of 1847 were doctors rather than clergymen: the Revd. James Sibree wrote movingly about cholera, but showed no interest in the living conditions in which the disease had flourished, and the same may be said of the Hull Town Mission, a nonconformist body concerned with taking the gospel to the poor 'in the narrow courts and alleys'. (fn. 180) The kind of work in which Hull churchmen and evangelicals were chiefly interested was the provision of elementary education. This was something which, down to 1870, was dependent on local initiative, and it was something on which Hull made considerable progress.
The elementary schools of Hull included a number of old foundations, but these provided only a fraction of the school places in the 1850s and 1860s: the test of local initiative is in the foundation of new schools at the time. (fn. 181) The National Schools Society of the Church of England was particularly active and altogether it administered a dozen schools in this period, mostly in association with new churches. In addition there were several nonconformist schools, and others run by the Roman Catholics and the Jews. The extent to which this educational activity was prompted by a religious motive—to make it possible for children to read the Bible—is made clear when the amount of money and energy put into elementary education is compared with the failure of attempts to provide secondary education for the middle class. With the decay of the Grammar School there were attempts to set up two fee-paying secondary schools, Kingston College and Hull College. They were opened in 1837 but both failed in the 1840s. Yet another school of this kind, the Hull and East Riding College, was established in 1867 and again, in the absence of an endowment, struggled painfully for survival. It is curious that in a town with a large commercial and manufacturing middle class there seems to have been so small a demand for secondary education.
The picture of Hull's cultural life can be filled in by reference to a number of institutions. The Subscription Library shared with the Hull Literary and Philosophical Society an elegant building in Albion Street. The Zoological Gardens were maintained by a body of shareholders and appear to have been run as a place of public entertainment at a time before the first municipal park had been established. The Botanic Gardens, too, were run by a private company. All these were institutions which catered chiefly for the middle class; all survived for a long time, and all can be paralleled by similar institutions in other manufacturing towns of the north. At this point there seems little that is distinctive in the cultural life of Hull. (fn. 182)
There was a host of other institutions, some educational, some philanthropic: the Ragged schools, the Mechanics' Institute, the Young People's Christian and Literary Institute, the Sailors' Home and Sailors' Institute, the Hull and East Riding Penitentiary for Fallen Women, the Temporary Home for Fallen Women, and other societies which tended to proliferate in the geographical isolation of Hull, such as the Society for the Relief of Really Deserving Foreigners. (fn. 183) The infinite variety of good works must be measured against the real life of many Hull people—casual labour in the docks, seasonal employment in shipping, and the 'systematic' prostitution of immigrant German girls. According to T. H. Travis, the stipendiary magistrate, there were 306 brothels known to the police in 1869. For very many people the only opportunities for recreation were provided by Hull Fair and by the 309 gin-shops and 287 beerhouses in the town in 1869. (fn. 184)
Political History, 1835–70
After 1832 the wind of political reform slackened in Hull, and few of the national political agitations of the 1830s and 1840s appear to have made a serious impact on local opinion. After a meeting held on Dock Green in September 1839 it was reported in October that the Chartists had united with the local Tories. (fn. 185) Little more was heard of Hull Chartism, although two well-known Chartists, Henry Vincent and William Hill, editor of the Northern Star, had come from the town. (fn. 186) The Anti-Corn Law League made rather more stir: Dr. Bowring came to Hull to lecture to the Chamber of Commerce on free trade in 1840, but a local free trade association was not formed until 1844, after a great free trade meeting had been held there, at which Cobden, Bright, and Perronet Thompson all spoke. (fn. 187) Since the bulk of British corn imports in the early forties came from Russia and Prussia, this indifference is hard to understand. During the national agitation organized among shipowners about the Navigation Laws, the shipowners of Hull petitioned once against repeal, but organized no local agitation on the subject. (fn. 188)
There is, in fact, a strong contrast to be noticed between the indifference shown in Hull to national political issues which were of immediate interest to local economic development, and the obsessive interest shown at this time in the drains or the docks of Hull. This may be interpreted partly in terms of the town's isolation, but it may also indicate, by the absence of expressed grievance, that the town felt itself to be reasonably prosperous. The history of parliamentary elections tends to strengthen the impression of indifference.
After the Reform Act of 1832 there were about 4,500 electors in Hull. Of these, over a third—1,834 in 1852—were freemen, those who had held the right to vote before the Act, and who retained that right for life. Many of these were very much poorer than the new voters, the £10 householders: they had regularly received polling money before 1832—four guineas for a plumper and two for a split vote, and they were thought to regard election money in some form as their birthright. (fn. 189) They were sufficiently numerous to have a determining influence on elections, so long as there was a reasonable division of opinion among the remainder of the electorate. In 1832 Radical feeling in Hull was still strong, and two advanced reformers were returned: (fn. 190) M. D. Hill, brother of Rowland Hill, and W. Hutt, who was later the leader of the parliamentary attack on the Sound dues, levied on ships passing between Sweden and Denmark and a matter of serious importance to Hull. The expenses of this election were negligible, but in 1835, with the revival of Conservative party organization, (fn. 191) old habits began to reassert themselves. A London Conservative shipowner, David Carruthers, headed the poll, followed by Hutt. Carruthers died almost immediately, the expense of the election, it was said, having broken his heart; he was replaced by a man of diametrically opposed views, Col. T. Perronet Thompson, of a local merchant family, a keen Radical and author of the Corn Law Catechism. In 1837 and 1841 Conservatives were elected, William Wilberforce and Sir Walter James on the first occasion, and James and Sir John Hanmer on the second. In 1847 there were two Liberals, James Clay, an unsuccessful candidate of 1841, and Matthew Talbot Baines, Recorder of Hull and son of Edward Baines, editor of the Leeds Mercury. In 1852 two Liberals, Clay and Lord Goderich, were returned, but an election petition alleging bribery was presented by the defeated Conservatives; their allegations were overwhelmingly proved, and the two members were unseated. That these election results in fact broadly reflected national political trends was little more than accidental. (fn. 192)
Commissioners sat in Hull and heard evidence for 64 days from about 1,400 witnesses. They had no difficulty in proving that in 1841, 1847, and 1852 out of a total poll of between 3,500 and 4,000 about 1,100 to 1,300 votes had been corrupt. Some attempt was made to keep bribery in Hull within the letter of the law by various devices. In 1839 the Liberals produced a list of 239 eligible persons who were then admitted to the freedom of the borough; in the following year the Conservatives produced 204 new freemen of the opposing side. It is an indication of the detachment of these struggles from national politics that the parties were seldom referred to except by their colours, the 'blues' and the 'oranges'. The supply of potential freemen being limited, it became the habit in the elections of 1841 and after to offer employment to runners at the committee rooms, or to hire committee rooms in the homes of supporters, in both cases in numbers far in excess of reasonable demands. In 1841 the total number of runners was estimated by the commissioners to have been 1,300. Voters were encouraged by treating, and elections were enlivened by such incidents as that which occurred in 1852 when a party of voters sailed across to Lincolnshire in order to strengthen their bargaining position. (fn. 193)
Such doings were not unique to Hull, and within the town the meaning of the local phrase 'to have one's name set down' for employment, in return for a vote, had long been understood and accepted by both parties. It is clear, however, that bribery had become an incubus to the party managers on both sides. The expense of elections, the greater part of which was met by the candidates, made it difficult to get good candidates: Hanmer and James said in 1841 that they would never contest Hull again, and so did Baines in 1847. All but two, Thompson and Baines, of the candidates were people without local knowledge or connexions, whose names had been obtained from the Carlton or Reform Clubs. It is satisfactory to find that the commissioners exonerated Thompson and Baines, both of whom as Radicals had campaigned for purity of elections, from any direct knowledge of the corruption used by their agents and which they had been powerless to prevent. By 1847, and even more by 1852, when the question of free trade and protection had been settled, political leaders in Hull wished for cheaper, and if necessary uncontested, elections. According to Henry Blundell, chairman of the joint orange committee, in 1852, 'when all parties were tolerably unanimous in carrying out what we consider a very important measure, in getting the dues and the expenses of the port reduced . . . I authorized a friend of mine who was connected with the blues to say that if they could bring forward a liberal man, who was a free trader, I for one would not oppose him'. (fn. 194)
Such solutions were made impossible by the freemen's pressure for a 'third man', and one could always be found. 'It did not signify where he came from whether from Ireland or Kamchatka; if he was only a third man he would be received.' The lengths to which this practice could go were made clear in 1847 when the two orange candidates remained unopposed until within five days of the poll. Then, at the last minute, a section of the blues and the extreme section of the orange party coalesced to bring forward a Radical candidate, James Brown. Before the poll Brown retired in disgust, in favour of Baines, but his intervention had served to raise the total cost of the election to £6,840. (fn. 195)
After the show-down of 1852 bribery greatly diminished but did not disappear. In 1859 the orange party, by way of retaliation, submitted a petition against the return of the successful blue candidate, Joseph Hoare. The inquiry showed that there had again been bribery. Over 300 voters had been employed by the blues, and some of them had been given duties which were merely nominal. Bribery was proved against 25 of them, (fn. 196) and Hoare was disqualified. The decay of bribery thereafter may be illustrated by the stabilized cost of elections in Hull: from £6,840 in 1847 to £6,348 in the first election after the Reform Act of 1867, when the number of voters had risen to 17,146. (fn. 197)
Another form of Victorian political strategy, the formation of a freehold land association, was much employed in Hull. These associations, which were first made popular by the Anti-Corn Law League, were intended to create 40s. freehold county votes for known supporters of a political party. The Hull, Beverley, and East Riding Freehold Land Society, administered in the Liberal interest, had three estates, (fn. 198) and the Conservatives had one estate. (fn. 199) There was in addition the Hull and East Riding Freehold Land Society, which possessed one estate, but of whose political connexions nothing is known. (fn. 200)
At this date the political organization of both parties was not expressed in formal and permanent institutions. In 1841, and again as late as 1859, the two Liberal candidates' campaigns were conducted by separate committees, to some extent in competition with one another. (fn. 201) There were spasmodic references to an Operatives' Conservative Association: but there seems to be no evidence that either party had permanent headquarters in Hull until the eve of the reform agitation of 1866–7. Then the Conservatives, who had been heavily defeated in Hull at the general election of 1865, formed the Hull Conservative Association and set to work to overhaul their organization. (fn. 202) The Liberals replied with the Hull Liberal Association in 1866, and on that occasion the sitting members, Clay and Norwood, complained of the difficulties which the lack of such an institution had created in the past. (fn. 203)
Management was in the hands of people who were prominent in local politics. On the orange side were B. M. Jalland, a solicitor whose home, Holderness House, was described as 'the fortress of the Orange party in Hull'; (fn. 204) C. S. Todd, clerk to the local board of health; and J. H. Galloway, another solicitor. The blue party was led by J. R. Pease, of the banking family, Robert Wells, (fn. 205) and W. H. H. Broadley. It is noticeable that little part was played in the elections by the shipowners of the town, at least little part that can be traced, and this is in clear contrast to the situation before 1832 and again after 1865. Both at the beginning and at the end of the century one at least of Hull's M.P.s was a representative of the shipowners.
In both the political and the economic history of Hull the 1860s mark a dividing line. The period from 1861 to 1881 was, apart from the 1840s, that in which the population of the area grew fastest, from 109,000 to 178,000. (fn. 206) Such a rate of growth was made possible only by substantial migration to Hull from elsewhere (see Table 5).
Population of Hull and Sculcoates Registration Districts (fn. 516)
It is not easy to offer adequate explanations of the rapid rise between 1861 and 1881. Three factors which were probably significant are discussed in greater detail below: the growth of the fishing industry and its ancillary trades; the immediate advantage gained by Hull shipowners in their adoption of steam before their continental rivals; and the effect of reductions in railway rates and dock dues.
This rapid economic expansion coincided with political changes which in general were reflections of national trends. The corporation became the urban sanitary authority in 1876, (fn. 207) enlarged the borough boundaries considerably in 1882, (fn. 208) took on a wide variety of trading activities, mostly in the 1890s, and acquired the status of a county borough in 1888. (fn. 209) Local politics, which had been inert until the beginning of the agitation for the Second Reform Bill, once again showed a vitality which had been absent since the 1830s. The opposition to the merchant shipping legislation of the Board of Trade, the beginnings of the revived interest in protection, the conflict between Birmingham radicalism and the traditional liberalism, and later between organized employers and the new unionism, were all manifested in Hull. Finally, the great growth of Hull's oversea trade and the development in the later 19th century of much larger steamships gave adequate reasons for the continuance of the disputes, which had become almost traditional, between business interests, the corporation, and the dock and railway authorities.
In 1870 Hull's position as the third port in Britain was little different from that of twenty years earlier: total entrances and clearances at Hull were 1,900,000 net tons in 1870, compared with 6,800,000 at Liverpool and 7,100,000 at London. Hull continued to trade predominantly with northern Europe: 1,087,000 of 1,282,000 tons entering in 1870 came from ports in Russia, Germany, Scandinavia, Holland, Belgium, and France. And for this reason the trade of the port continued to be dominated by a relatively narrow range of commodities.
In one way, however, there had been a great change during the sixties. In 1860 there had been steamships (over 50 tons) with an overall tonnage of 20,111 registered in Hull; by 1870 the figure had risen more than fourfold to 93,406, out of a total tonnage registered there of 131,028. This was a vastly higher proportion of steamships to sailing ships than that which existed in Liverpool or London. (fn. 210) Such an early and wholehearted conversion to steam by the Hull shipowners may probably be explained by reference to the Baltic trade. First, the amount of space needed for bunker coal made the employment of steamships uneconomic in the long voyages to America or Australia, but this did not apply to Hull. Secondly, the steamship had an immense and obvious advantage in overcoming the difficulties experienced by sailing ships in navigating the Sound between Denmark and Sweden. The extent to which Hull gained by the adoption of steam is suggested by the comparison of British and foreign tonnage entering the port during the critical period 1860 to 1880 (see Table 6).
Entrances of Shipping into Hull (thousand net tons), 1860–80 (fn. 517)
Thus during the years of Hull's most rapid expansion there was not only a great increase in the activity of the port but a much greater proportionate share of the trade was in British ships. It does not follow that these ships were all Hull-owned and registered, but it is reasonable to suppose that Hull interests benefited. The advantage to British shipping, however, could hardly be expected to be permanent: after 1870 the proportion of foreign to British shipping entering Hull again began to rise, and by 1913 the total arrivals of British shipping were 2,849,000 tons compared with 1,856,000 of foreign. (fn. 211) The shipping history of Hull therefore falls into two phases, with a turning point about 1880: a period of boom, followed by one of tougher competition, notably from German shipping lines.
This expansion was accompanied by the development for the first time of regular trading connexions outside Europe, and for this expansion the chief credit must be given to the firm of Thomas Wilson & Sons. Wilson had begun his career in 1820 when he entered the Swedish iron-ore trade. (fn. 212) The firm was not the first to establish regular steam packet services from Hull, (fn. 213) but in the fifties it began regular sailings to Gothenburg and Christiania, ports which were not yet served by other firms. In the later fifties it began sailings to Stettin and Riga, which were first advertised in directories in 1867. Even greater expansion followed the retirement of Thomas Wilson in 1867 and the succession of his sons Charles and Arthur, under whose management the firm grew in spectacular fashion. In the seventies regular sailings to Trieste, Constantinople, and Odessa were successfully established. A few years later the Wilson brothers were competing in the Boston and New York trades, and by 1885 were advertising weekly sailings to New York and fortnightly ones to Boston. The firm had already begun operating ships between London and India, and in 1885 began a monthly service between Hull and Bombay, though this was not long continued on a regular basis.
The Wilson Line was perhaps the most celebrated of the large business enterprises established in Hull after 1870. Of the two brothers, Charles was the effective head of the firm. He was a dominant figure in the life of the town and Liberal member for Hull from 1874 to 1905. Until the dock strike of 1893 his influence was consistently exerted in favour of Liberal-Radical policies; he was a defender of the merchant-navy legislation of the Board of Trade at a time when it was under attack by other Hull shipowners, and a staunch free trader. (fn. 214) By the time of the dock strike, when the brothers had become the chief object of the union leaders' attacks, Ben Tillett attributed the success of the firm to ruthlessness in competition. He alleged that it had run sailings which had undercut old-established Hull firms and forced them out of business: a large firm could afford to make a temporary loss on some lines while it made a profit on others. (fn. 215) It is certainly true that many old Hull shipping firms were bought out by Wilsons' or otherwise disappeared in this period. In 1878 Wilsons' acquired the firm of Brownlow, Marsdin, in 1903 that of Bailey and Leetham, and in 1908 the steamers of the North Eastern Railway. In 1891 the firm became a private limited company, with a capital of £2,500,000 and a fleet of over 100 ships; the fleet registered in Hull grew from 60,000 gross tons in 1877 to 203,000 in 1913. (fn. 216)
The expansion of Wilsons', and to some extent the prosperity of Hull, also profited from the great development of emigrant traffic from Scandinavia and eastern Europe in the period after 1870. There had been an emigrant traffic long before this: in April 1852, for example, 600 Germans had passed through Hull on their way to the United States. (fn. 217) But the traffic grew greatly in volume in the 1880s and 1890s, when emigrants were of two kinds–those who intended to stay in this country, and those who landed in England on the first stage of the journey to America. Hull had a fair proportion of the former, but an overwhelming proportion of the latter. In the years 1892–4 126,645, out of a total for all ports of 215,257, passed through Hull. (fn. 218) These people were predominantly from Scandinavia, the emigrant traffic from Hamburg and Bremen being reserved to German shipping lines by German government action. It was the practice to take a ticket to Hull, the fare from Gothenburg being £1, and then a combined ticket from Hull to Liverpool by rail and thence to America; and traffic was organized by co-operation between the Liverpool shipping companies and the Wilson Line, which had the bulk of the traffic to Hull in its hands. (fn. 219) The volume of emigrant traffic fluctuated greatly, from 60,000 in 1892 to 16,500 in 1894, for example, and like the rest of the Baltic and Scandinavian trade was highly seasonal. It had first assumed such proportions in 1881, when 51,000 emigrants passed through the town between January and September. (fn. 220) The traffic was a specialized affair, Wilsons' having a number of ships, the Romeo, Angelo, Albano, and Bravo among them, which were specially fittedout for the trade, and which were the subject of criticism during an investigation by the Board of Trade in 1882. (fn. 221) Apart from its intrinsic importance it is possible that this traffic may have helped to promote the development of Hull as a passenger port.
Local industrial development also tended to promote the alteration and expansion of Hull's oversea trade. By the 1860s seed-crushing was well-established in Hull and in subsequent decades it drew its supplies from further and further afield. By the end of the century imports of linseed came not only from Russia but from the East Indies, the Argentine, Canada, and the United States; there was a considerable trade, for example, between Hull and the River Plate before 1914. Imports of cotton-seed into Hull, which grew fast after 1870, came from Egypt and the East Indies. The trade in palm-oil and palm-kernels, however, was concentrated in Liverpool. (fn. 222) The growth of trade with Trieste and Marseilles may be partly explained by the fact that these were the two main markets for oils and seeds in the Mediterranean. In the same way the expansion of corn-milling in Hull after 1870 created new trading patterns, not only with North America but also with India and the Black Sea, which were all areas producing the 'strong' wheat used for blending with the weaker English varieties. In contrast, however, some old trades declined: Hull's imports of flax from Russia, which had been important in the middle of the century, declined with the decay of flax-spinning in Leeds, (fn. 223) and the same was also true of cotton imports for the Hull cotton industry. (fn. 224)
Perhaps more important than these changes was the growth of the coal export trade between 1870 and 1914. This was a national development, but it was one from which the Humber ports stood greatly to gain, since they were the closest to the South Yorkshire coalfield. Moreover, their advantage increased as time went on, for with the sinking of deeper pits coal was being exploited progressively nearer to the east coast: there were borings around Doncaster between 1900 and 1905, and Thorne colliery, 37 miles from Hull, began production in 1910. (fn. 225) In 1913 the export of coal from Hull, which had been negligible in 1870, rose to a peak of 4,500,000 tons. (fn. 226)
The growth of these exports was of double importance, since it provided the bulk export cargoes which Hull had hitherto lacked: in exchange for timber, wheat, or oil-seeds commodities had been exported which were high in value and low in bulk, such as textile and other machinery, and cotton and woollen yarns. Throughout the period under discussion a much greater tonnage entered the port than cleared from it with cargo for foreign ports. In 1860, for example, 711,828 tons entered Hull, 141,462 cleared from Hull for other British ports, and 55,954 sailed to ports abroad in ballast. (fn. 227) The growth of the coal export trade did something to offset this, but as late as 1908 it was complained that Hull was 'still badly in need of a good export trade'. (fn. 228)
A further reason for Hull's vigorous expansion during this period may lie in the policies of the railway companies. The part played by business interests in Hull in the railway rates controversy is discussed elsewhere. (fn. 229) But, though there were loud complaints in Hull of the preference enjoyed by the railway-owned ports of Newcastle and Hartlepool, there were also complaints in Liverpool that trade was being diverted to Hull by the high railway rates to the Lancashire port. (fn. 230)
During the period from 1870 to 1914 the character of Hull's oversea trade, and of the shipping industry, was clearly much changed. In 1870 there had been a number of small firms; in 1914 Hull shipping was dominated by the Wilson Line. By 1914, too, there was much more trade with places outside Europe: in 1907, for example, some of the largest tonnages came from the River Plate, Bombay, and Alexandria. Nevertheless, despite persistent efforts, the establishment of regular services from Hull in the longdistance ocean trades remained very difficult. In 1907 it was reported that attempts to run outward sailings to Canada and Australia had been unsuccessful, and sailings to Singapore appear similarly to have failed after a few years. Between 1900 and 1920 there was constant discussion about ways and means of attracting raw wool imports, destined for the West Riding, and eventually in 1911 one line, Trinder, Anderson & Co., which had formerly discharged in London began to sail to Hull with cargoes of wool. (fn. 231) By 1914 Hull's import of raw wool had risen to 30,000,000 lb., but this was still negligible when compared with the 478,000,000 lb. which arrived in London that year. (fn. 232)
At the end of the period, therefore, the general picture of Hull's trade remained one of concentration on northern Europe; nearly two-thirds of the total tonnage arriving in the port in 1913 came from Russia, Scandinavia, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium, and France. Consequently, the average size of Hull-registered steamers remained small: in 1914 there were 686 ships registered in Hull with a total gross tonnage of 238,000, but of these only 39 were of 2,000 tons and over, compared with 654 registered at Liverpool. (fn. 233) It is possible that this concentration on one area of trade, which was a source of potential danger to Hull, was to some extent encouraged by the working of the 'shipping conferences' before 1914. These agreements covered most of the ocean trades, except the North Atlantic, but did not extend to the home trade or the Baltic. The Wilson Line was, it is true, a member of the Bombay, Madras, and Karachi outward conferences. But it was believed to be difficult for firms to embark on new services unless they were members of the appropriate conference; difficult to alter their pattern of services—say from London to Hull; and difficult, under the deferred rebate system, to persuade shippers to employ lines which were not conference members. (fn. 234) Though apparently inconsistent with this, the growth of Hull's import trade in wool in fact tends to bear it out, for the Australian government, by an Act of 1905, prohibited rebates and discounts 'deemed to be restrictive competitive practices contrary to the public interest'; this provision came into force in 1910. (fn. 235) As the conferences included German lines, those Hull lines which attempted to establish long-distance services were faced with competition, not only from London and Liverpool, but also from Hamburg and Rotterdam, where goods could sometimes be trans-shipped and forwarded to this country at lower rates than were available directly from Hull.
The Corporation and the Docks, 1870–1914
The circumstances which stimulated the trade of Hull between 1860 and 1880 made a renewal of the dock struggles inevitable: (fn. 236) the tonnage using the port was rapidly increasing and a growing proportion of it consisted of larger ships. In the 1870s the newest and largest ships of the Wilson Line were 3,000 and 3,500 tons, and by 1891 two ships of over 10,000 and 19 of over 5,000 tons were under construction for Hull shipowners. (fn. 237) This was also a period of railway consolidation: as a result of the amalgamation of railway companies and the completion of direct railway links with major towns, such as that between Hull and Doncaster which was opened in 1869, (fn. 238) a situation was created which it would have been progressively more difficult to change. Any advantage or disadvantage of Hull's location seemed likely to become permanent.
During the 1870s the dock and railway question was almost continuously in agitation in Hull. There were two separate issues. The first was the provision of dock facilities, a problem which was simple to state, but which was complicated by the expense involved, and by the tangled issues of local politics which it immediately raised. There was an increasing demand for a deep modern dock: the newest dock, Albert Dock, had a depth at average spring tides of 28 feet, while Alexandra Dock, opened in 1885, was to have one of 33 feet. (fn. 239) Something had to be done, moreover, to accommodate the new, expanding import trades: foreign cattle depots close to Victoria Dock and Albert Dock were opened by 1885. (fn. 240) The coal-exporting interests demanded more and better coal-hoists, (fn. 241) and there was persistent agitation from trawler-owners who complained of overcrowding in Albert Dock, and who needed land near the dock on which ancillary fish-curing works could be built. (fn. 242) In the rival port of Grimsby a separate fish dock had been provided by the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway in 1856.
The second issue concerned the policies of the North Eastern. Complaints about these were many and varied, although it is hard to assess how far they were justified. The North Eastern had established a railway monopoly between the Humber and the Tyne as early as 1854: there was no such monopoly at Liverpool. The North Eastern also had an interest in the docks at Newcastle and Hartlepool. Its policy of charging equal rates to inland towns from all three ports tended to deprive Hull of the advantage of its proximity to the West Riding and the North Midlands. This policy was especially unpopular since railway freightage was an important factor in the cost of handling corn and timber, commodities in which Hull was chiefly interested. But the grievance against Newcastle and Hartlepool was only one of several: the docks at Goole, Grimsby, and Harwich were also railway-owned, and Hull complained of unfair competition from them also.
The question of railway rates was a national issue in the 1870s, and Hull's case was argued at length before several investigatory bodies. (fn. 243) The evidence, particularly that given in 1872, suggests that Hull interests, in their violent hostility to the North Eastern, were blind to the positive advantages they gained over Liverpool. The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce produced figures showing that the railway freightage for timber from Liverpool to 22 manufacturing towns averaged 2.5d. a mile, whereas that from Hull to the same towns was 1.3d., and from Hartlepool 1.1d. (fn. 244) Whatever the precise effects of these freightages, it is clear that by 1880, when affairs in Hull reached a crisis, it was impossible to prove that Hull's trade was languishing in comparison with other ports. Hull's timber imports in 1878 were 36 per cent. greater than in 1870, whereas in Hartlepool the increase had been less than 9 per cent. Similarly there had been a greater proportional increase in Hull's coal exports than in Grimsby's: Hull's tonnage rose from 193,000 to 464,000, Grimsby's from 291,000 to 333,000. (fn. 245) It would be more plausible to argue that Hull was gaining at other towns' expense at this time. A more concrete and justifiable complaint was that the North Eastern had failed to handle efficiently the rapidly growing volume of traffic out of Hull. (fn. 246)
The history of dock and railway issues in Hull in the 1870s is complex. In 1873 a Bill for an independent Hull, South and West Junction Railway was promoted by Hull businessmen, one of the most active being Charles Wilson, the shipowner. This Bill was rejected by a committee of the House of Lords. (fn. 247) The Dock Company meanwhile was slowly preparing plans for a new dock. It purchased 75 acres of land from the Humber Conservancy Commissioners at Salt End, three miles east of the town and outside the borough boundaries, in 1875, and approached the corporation to buy further land at Marfleet between Salt End and the existing Victoria Dock. The corporation, however, took fright at the threat of a monopoly of the eastern foreshore, and refused to sell. (fn. 248) In 1878 the Dock Company came forward with a Bill to construct a new dock at Salt End, and to move the fishing industry there. This Bill was strongly opposed by the corporation on the ground of the loss of rates. It was passed, but in committee was 'loaded with onerous provisions' and was abandoned by the Dock Company. It was later claimed by the corporation that it had offered to convey to the company land at Marfleet on generous terms if it would consent to build the new dock there. (fn. 249)
Thus by 1880 the plans for an independent railway had failed, and there was deadlock in the affairs of the docks. In these circumstances the Hull and Barnsley Railway was projected that year. Its chief promoter was Col. Gerard Smith of the banking family. (fn. 250) He was a member of the corporation and a director of the Dock Company, but resigned from the board in 1879 without giving his colleagues warning of his intentions. Charles Wilson also resigned from the company at the same time. (fn. 251)
Smith and his colleagues proposed to solve all Hull's troubles by constructing a new railway and a new dock, to be independent both of the North Eastern and of the Dock Company. The proposed railway revived two earlier projects, the Hull and Barnsley Junction of 1845 and the Hull and West Riding Junction of 1862. (fn. 252) The proposal for a new dock conciliated all parties by projecting a deep-water dock on corporation land at Marfleet, which had been rejected by the Hull Dock Company. The Bill was passed in 1880, (fn. 253) having had the enthusiastic support of the corporation before parliamentary committees. The corporation, indeed, was willing to sell 126 acres of land to the new company and to invest £100,000 in its stock. The interests of the port were safeguarded by a clause which forbade the new company to enter into joint working agreements with the existing dock and railway authorities, or to sell its installations without the corporation's consent.
Alexandra Dock, covering 46 acres, and the railway as far as Cudworth were opened in 1885, having together cost £4,000,000. (fn. 254) Almost immediately, however, the H.B.W.R.J. ran into financial trouble. By February 1886 competitive rate reductions by the two railway companies had begun, and in such a war it was inevitable that the North Eastern, with its very large interests elsewhere, should be the winner.
The two rival dock systems were more evenly matched. Since 1869 the Dock Company had continued to enlarge its accommodation, building William Wright Dock (5¾ acres) in 1880 and St. Andrew's Dock (10½ acres) in 1883. (fn. 255) By the 1890s, therefore, the H.B.W.R.J. had one large new dock capable of accommodating the largest steamers, while the Hull Dock Company owned a much bigger complex, though this included the now obsolescent docks of the early 19th century. By 1893 ships of larger tonnage arriving in Hull were using Alexandra Dock. Moreover, since free overside discharge of cargo was also allowed, the new dock was becoming the centre for discharging grain which was taken thence by lighter to the mills along the River Hull. A war of rates, however, had broken out in the docks as on the railways so that although the total amount of shipping using the port was increasing, both dock companies were in financial difficulty.
From 1886 to 1893 the reorganization of the dock and railway systems was under almost continuous discussion. At the end of 1886, for example, the H.B.W.R.J. wished to sell out to another railway company in order to satisfy the debenture holders. Its plans, however, were opposed by the corporation. Various other plans followed, including the making of a working agreement between the H.B.W.R.J. and the North Eastern, which was also opposed by the corporation; and the corporation's plan of a municipally-run railway, which was opposed by everyone else. (fn. 256) Meanwhile the demands of the shipping industry for accommodation, which had precipitated the struggle, were not satisfied. As a result of the success of Alexandra Dock, and the increase of shipping, both in total tonnage, and in the size of the biggest ships, a new deep-water dock was being demanded as early as 1891. The expansion of the fishing industry in the 1880s had led to congestion in St. Andrew's Dock, and to demands for bunkering facilities for the 150 steam trawlers now registered. (fn. 257) However unpopular such a solution might be, it was clear that the North Eastern was the only body capable of raising the capital for such projects; it took some years, however, for this conclusion to be accepted by all parties. The North Eastern introduced Bills in 1889 and 1892, the first of which comprised a project to be undertaken in conjunction with the Hull Dock Company, while the second provided for the acquisition of the company by the North Eastern. These were successfully opposed in turn by the corporation and the H.B.W.R.J. Nevertheless, the most influential of the Hull shipowners, Charles Wilson, had come to accept the idea of a dock system owned by the North Eastern, and he won support for it in the chamber of commerce. (fn. 258) Thus when the North Eastern revived the project of a take-over in 1893, providing for the H.B.W.R.J. to join in the building of the new dock, it was approved by all but the corporation, and the Hull Dock Company's estate passed to the North Eastern.
The history of the H.B.W.R.J. forms an interesting but puzzling episode in the story of public enterprise, since it seems in retrospect unlikely that a new, independent, company could ever have succeeded. The promoters seem to have been primarily concerned with threats to the competitive position of Hull. The complaints against Hartlepool and Newcastle of the 1870s may have been exaggerated, but a further threat appeared in 1885 with the decision to build the Manchester Ship Canal. Like the H.B.W.R.J. the canal was a response, in this case of Manchester businessmen, to the monopoly powers of railway companies. Hull recognized, however, that once the canal was completed Manchester could become a formidable competitor; (fn. 259) and in fact Manchester in the present century is Hull's chief rival for the status of third port. Even during the negotiations of 1892 it was recognized that the corporation and the North Eastern had a common foe in Manchester. (fn. 260)
The corporation took a prominent part in the promotion of the scheme. It was led and organized not only by Charles Wilson and others who were immediately concerned with the company, but by J. T. Woodhouse, a solicitor, who was prominent in municipal activity at the time. In addition to backing the H.B.W.R.J. directly in 1880, the corporation had shown itself willing to support schemes for municipal docks. The Act of 1861 had laid down terms on which the Dock Company would be obliged to sell to a dock trust. In the 1870s discussion about this was revived and the idea won support from the chamber of commerce. Similar terms were imposed on the H.B.W.R.J., but in 1883 both companies were released from the provision of selling to a dock trust. (fn. 261) The idea was revived, however, in an abortive scheme of 1888 whereby the Dock Company and the H.B.W.R.J. were both to be managed by a municipal dock trust. The scheme proposed something which would have been unique, a municipally-run railway: 'We would allow all other railway companies to come over the line as carriers, upon paying a toll to our board.' (fn. 262) Behind this willingness to embark on large-scale enterprise was the belief that Hull's competitive position was dependent on vigorous local initiative. A similar belief lay behind the establishment of a municipal telephone system a few years later, (fn. 263) and the skill with which that project was handled may have owed something to experience gained with the H.B.W.R.J. While it could be argued that the prosperity of the port would be shared by all, and that heavy municipal expenditure could be justified on that ground, there is nevertheless a striking contrast between the handling of this aspect of municipal investment and the history of public health in Hull. How far this is to be explained by a rate-payers' franchise must be a matter of opinion.
From a financial point of view the H.B.W.R.J. was a bad investment for its shareholders, and the chief gainer from rivalry in the docks was the North Eastern, which had been able to buy up the rival line cheaply. Nevertheless, the merchants and shipowners of Hull undoubtedly gained also, since for nearly ten years they benefited by the cut-throat competition of the rival companies. Their interests were further served by Riverside Quay (1907) and by the two docks subsequently built in Hull. These were St. Andrew's Dock Extension, of 9 acres (1897), and King George Dock, of 53 acres (1914), which was built jointly by the two railway companies, although they remained formally independent of one another until the railway amalgamation of 1921. (fn. 264)
Industrial Development, 1870–1914
The general range of Hull's industries changed little in this period. Some firms, such as Reckitt's and the chocolate manufacturers, Needler's, first became important in these years, and Reckitt's greatly expanded their range of products. (fn. 265) In general, however, employment continued to be based chiefly on activities connected with shipping and the docks, on the seed-crushing industry, on grain-milling, and on fishing. A report prepared in 1885 by the chamber of commerce, for the Royal Commission on the Depression of Industry, (fn. 266) listed the economic activities of Hull in what was believed to be their order of importance, measured, it seems, by the amount of capital involved. They were shipping; timber-importing; seed-crushing; paint, colour, and varnish manufacture; shipbuilding and engineering; leather-working and tanning; cornand seed-milling; fishing; the export of coal; and fruit-importing. It seems likely that a similar list, if it had been drawn up 20 years later, would have shown that corn-milling, fishing, and coal-exporting had increased, and that shipbuilding had declined.
Fishing, during this period, was the subject of various government inquiries. In 1866 the Sea Fisheries Commission visited Hull in its investigation of complaints of over-fishing in the North Sea. (fn. 267) In 1884 a Royal Commission on Trawling investigated, as part of a national inquiry, the disputes between the steam trawlers of Hull and the older-established line-fishing industry of Flamborough. (fn. 268) And there were several inquiries, both local and national, into the conditions of employment in fishing. (fn. 269)
Between 1870 and 1914 the industry in Hull assumed its modern form, with the adoption of steam trawling, the concentration of the fishing fleet into fewer and larger companies, and the fishing, from the end of the century, of distant northern waters. The tendency of Grimsby to specialize in prime fish, particularly for the London market, and for Hull to specialize in cheaper fish, for the fish-and-chip shops of the north, was also already present before 1914. (fn. 270)
In 1869 fishing boats were compulsorily registered under the Sea Fisheries Act of 1868, and there proved to be 245 first-class, 341 second-class, and 2 third-class boats in Hull—a total of 588. Grimsby possessed only 262, but these included 219 first-class boats. Total employment in Hull was 2,116, and in Grimsby 1,282. (fn. 271) By 1882, however, the gap was narrowing: Hull then had 535 first-class boats and 201 others, and Grimsby 587 first-class and 20 others. Employment was by now greater in Grimsby, with 3,746 men and boys constantly employed, compared with 2,400 in Hull. (fn. 272)
These figures are to a certain extent unrealistic, for ships registered in one port might sometimes operate from the other, when market conditions made it worth while. But it was a situation which provided ammunition for constant complaint from the fishing community in Hull. (fn. 273) The use of Albert Dock proved chronically unsatisfactory: with the rapid expansion of trade after 1870 it was often crowded with shipping, and the trawlers had to wait so long to land their catch that it was no longer in a saleable condition. Furthermore, fish was despatched by passenger trains, and it was some distance from Albert Dock to Paragon Station. (fn. 274) These complaints appear to have been largely answered by the opening of St. Andrew's Dock in 1883.
The organization of the industry in Hull during the 1880s suggests that these complaints had some substance. It was the practice, known as 'fleeting', for one fast 'cutter' to collect the catch daily from all the trawlers in a given area, and bring it back to port. The first steam trawlers were used in this way, since they were not delayed by unfavourable winds and could, if necessary, make better headway against the tides of the Humber. These cutters not only returned to Hull, but also took a proportion of the catch directly to London, thus avoiding both port delays and the cost of railway carriage. One large-scale trawler-owner, Charles Hellyer, writing in 1915, held that his firm had been unable to make it pay when he sent fish to the south by rail. (fn. 275) This was, in fact, done on a much smaller scale from Hull than from Grimsby (see Table 7).
The transition from sail to steam in trawling at Hull took place rapidly between 1889 and 1899. (fn. 276) In 1884 there were 9 steam trawlers at Hull: by 1889 there were 50, and by 1899 385. The increasing deliveries of South Yorkshire coal to Hull after 1880 encouraged this trend. The general adoption of steam imposed new operating conditions on the industry. It was now necessary to cover the additional costs of fuel; but it was also possible, with the general use of ice, to build larger trawlers and to fish further afield. At the end of the century the long trawling voyages of the modern industry began: three Grimsby trawlers were fishing off Iceland in 1891, and by 1898 Hull trawlers were there in large numbers. (fn. 277) The greatly increased capital necessary to build and operate steam trawlers also had its effect on the industry, encouraging the concentration of trawler-ownership in fewer hands. In 1878 one owner, John Holmes, had owned seventeen smacks, and another, Alfred Ansell, eleven, but the remainder of the fleet had belonged to 76 different owners, mostly owning one or two smacks each. By 1913, of the 389 steam trawlers registered in Hull, 230 were operated by four firms: the Red Cross, the Great Northern, the Gamecock, and Hellyer's companies. (fn. 278)
Fish Sent Inland by Rail from Hull and Grimsby, 1881–6 (fn. 518)
|Number of trawlers||Quantities of fish (in tons) sent inland by rail|
The trawling industry provided the basis for a group of related trades and industries in Hull. From the 1850s ice, imported from Norway, had been used to preserve fish, but from the 1890s ice began to be made in Hull. In 1892 local production was 3,808 tons, compared with an import of natural ice of 18,495 tons: by 1913 the quantity of imported ice had fallen to 6,380 tons and the output of ice in Hull had risen to 75,424 tons. (fn. 279) Ice manufacture in Hull in 1914 was in the hands of three firms. Of these the most important was still the Hull Ice Company, a firm which illustrates the longestablished tradition of co-operation among trawling firms: the capital had been subscribed by a number of firms in the industry. (fn. 280)
Fish-curing and processing, which had developed with the fishing industry, continued to grow between 1870 and 1914. The earliest businesses had been engaged in curing cod and haddock landed at Hull, but towards the end of the century there was also a considerable production of kippers: Hull was not a herring port, and these were made from imports of Norwegian-caught herrings. (fn. 281) In 1898 a parliamentary inquiry into the fish-curing trades revealed 55 smoke-houses in Hull, dealing with herrings, cod, and haddock; and, in contrast to the many criticisms made of the sanitary administration of Hull, high praise was given to the way in which these were controlled by the medical officer of health. (fn. 282)
Other ancillary industries were the extraction of cod-liver oil and the manufacture of fish manure: there were at least three cod-liver oil manufacturers and five fish manure manufacturers in 1913. (fn. 283) Once again the industry had founded a co-operative enterprise, the Hull Fish Manure and Oil Company of 1891, with nearly all the local trawler-owners, fish-curers, and fish merchants subscribing to its capital. (fn. 284) Thus the total employment in Hull associated with fishing was much greater than the bare numbers of fishermen would suggest. Fishermen alone, however, were numerous: about 1,500 were recorded in the Censuses from 1881 to 1911. (fn. 285) An estimate made in 1954 suggested that there were then about three persons employed in ancillary occupations for every one in trawling, and this may give some indication of the earlier position. (fn. 286)
The grain-milling industry was also one which grew in relative importance to the economy of Hull in this period: Hull's share of national imports increased from 781,000 out of 30,900,000 cwt. in 1870, to 17,700,000 out of 98,000,000 cwt. in 1911. (fn. 287) This growth was particularly great in the years after the opening of Alexandra Dock in 1885. Increasing amounts of imported grain were, moreover, milled in the town, though it is impossible to offer estimates of quantities. The reports published after 1900 of imports by individual firms show that some of the largest importers, such as Ralli Brothers, were not local firms. They may well have consigned their grain to mills elsewhere, (fn. 288) a possibility which in turn suggests that important elements in Hull's rise as a grain-importing centre were the low dock dues and railway rates available after 1885.
The directories list 18 corn-millers in 1858—doubtless the proprietors of windmills, mostly employed in grinding locally-grown corn. There were still 18 in 1867, but thereafter the number began to fall. It was 11 in 1889, 12 in 1899, and only 6 in 1913. (fn. 289) Two old co-operative mills, which dated from the shortages of the French Revolutionary Wars and which had flourished as late as the 1870s, both went under at this time— Subscription Mill (founded in 1801) in 1890, and Anti-Mill (1795) in 1895. (fn. 290) Both, in the interests of equality among their proprietors, had regulations which made it almost impossible to raise the capital necessary for expansion or re-equipment. (fn. 291) This decline in numbers, together with the great increase in output, illustrates the technical transformation of the industry in these years. The chief innovations were the use of steam and, even more important, the change-over from stone-grinding to roller-grinding. The latter process produces a whiter and more saleable flour. In the 1880s, when British wheat-growing was being at last seriously undermined by imported wheat, millers at the ports could sell roller-ground 'strong' flour not only to bakers, but also to small inland mills which persisted with stone-grinding, to blend with flour made from English wheat.
The rapid rise of Joseph Rank, of Hull, to national pre-eminence as a miller may be partly attributed to his early recognition of the possibilities of the new technique. Roller-milling was first established abroad, in Hungary and the United States, and in the eighties there was a risk not only that British agriculture would be undermined by foreign wheat, but also that British milling would suffer from the competition of foreign flour. Joseph Rank opened the first roller-mill in Hull, Alexandra Mill, in 1885. It was immediately successful, and in 1891 another, much larger mill, Clarence Mill, was opened: this stood on the bank of the River Hull, and received its supplies by lighter from ships in Alexandra Dock. Clarence Mill was itself enlarged shortly after. The subsequent expansion of Rank's business took place in other ports. When in 1904 he began to build mills in London and South Wales, and himself moved to London, the firm was no longer a strictly local one. (fn. 292)
The seed-crushing industry in Hull employed 795 men over 20 years old in 1871, and double that number by 1901. (fn. 293) The industry evolved in this period along a course roughly comparable with that of grain-milling. The rapid growth of imports may be attributed partly to the demand for a widening range of technical oils, and even more to the increasingly general use of oil-cake as an animal feed. As in milling, there was increased mechanization in the industry, and also the emergence in Hull of one large firm, British Oil and Cake Mills, with a dominant position among its rivals.
Unlike grain-milling, however, seed-crushing produces a wide variety of products from an equally wide variety of raw materials. After 1870 there was an increasing use of cotton-seed in the Hull mills, and in the years before 1914 the crushing of soya beans was pioneered in Hull by the firm of Wray and Sanderson. (fn. 294) The industry in Hull had little to do with the extraction of edible oils from ground-nuts and palm-kernels: the crushing industry as it grew up in Hull and Liverpool was based on the existing pattern of imports. But the industry in Hull was on a large scale, and probably the biggest in the country. A witness from the Dockers' Union, before the Royal Commission on Labour of 1893–4, claimed 1,500 workers in the industry as members of his union out of a total in the industry in the United Kingdom of perhaps 3,000. (fn. 295)
Technically the important development of these years was the introduction of the much bigger Anglo-American hydraulic press, in place of the smaller hydraulic press which had been in use in Hull since the early 19th century. The Anglo-American press was brought to Hull by the engineering firm of Rose, Downs, and Thompson in 1873, and the first one was installed in the mill of Messrs. Willows, Holt, and Willows in 1875. The extraction of oils by the use of solvents was introduced in the years immediately before the First World War by the Hull Oil Manufacturing Company. (fn. 296)
The seed-crushing industry in Hull was composed of a large number of firms: in 1889 there were 23 oil-refiners listed in the directory, 8 oil and cake manufacturers, and 33 seed-crushers. (fn. 297) Some of these, such as Willows, Holt, and Willows, were relatively large, but there was no predominant firm until in 1899 British Oil and Cake Mills was formed by the amalgamation of 17 firms, 6 of which were in Hull. (fn. 298) The industry, like fishing, had a group of ancillaries. The engineering firm of Rose, Downs, and Thompson has already been mentioned; it had its origins in the 18th century, but in this period and later it specialized in oil-milling machinery. In terms of employment and of the number of firms engaged in it, however, the most important industry associated with oils was the manufacture of paint: there were 8 firms in 1867, 19 in 1889, and 20 in 1899. (fn. 299) It is also noteworthy that the coexistence of oil-crushing, fishprocessing, and corn-milling made Hull a natural centre for the manufacture of animal feeding-stuffs.
Although Hull was not an important national centre of shipbuilding, the industry continued to offer considerable employment: the number of shipbuilders and shipwrights rose from 1,205 in 1871 to 1,768 twenty years later. (fn. 300) Ships were built in Hull, both for private firms and for the Admiralty, (fn. 301) but none of this was on a large scale (see Table 8).
In a general way the economic development of Hull between 1870 and 1914 had further effects on the social structure of the town. In the first place, since Hull, unlike Liverpool or London, had no large body of consumers near at hand, there was comparatively little scope for skilled handicrafts. The percentage of the total occupied population employed in the Registrar-General's category of 'Dress' declined from 12–9 in the Census of 1851 to 6–5 in 1901. (fn. 302) In this connexion it is probably significant that while large numbers of immigrant Eastern European Jews passed through the town in the 1880s and 90s, few seem to have settled there. (fn. 303) In 1881 there were 128 Russianborn and 227 Polish-born people in Hull: twenty years later the numbers had risen to 810 and 242 respectively. But these figures may be compared with a Polish and Russian population of 6,174 in Leeds and 7,138 in Manchester in 1901. (fn. 304) In a report of miscellaneous complaints about alien immigrants submitted to the Board of Trade by the Hull Trades Council in 1887, it was stated that 'the cabinet-making trade is much cut up with foreign labour especially Jews and Germans', and that 'the jobbing-glazing trade is mostly done by Jews'. (fn. 305) But in comparison with the Leeds clothing industry and with the various trades of the East End of London, these occupations were on a very small scale.
Tonnage of Shipping Built in Hull, 1880–1910 (fn. 519)
|Number||Gross tonnage||Number||Gross tonnage|
Secondly, Hull offered few opportunities for women's work, outside the cottonmills, which finally closed down in 1894, and some of the fish trades. (fn. 306) Thirdly, this was a period in which the development of mechanization was producing economies in the use of manpower in several of the occupations which were most important to Hull. (fn. 307) This was the case in shipping and fishing, with the adoption of steam, in grainmilling, with the introduction of the big steam-driven roller-mills, and in seedcrushing, with the Anglo-American mill. There were few comparable economies in the loading and unloading of ships or in the operation of the railways, though Alexandra Dock was the first fully hydraulically-operated dock in the country. The numbers in the chief shipping and railway occupational groups increased substantially (see Table 9).
The large increase in the numbers of dock labourers and railway servants made the town fertile soil for the 'new unionism'. In the 1880s trade unionism grew steadily in Hull. Its growth was fostered by an outbreak of strikes in the summer of 1881 by shipwrights, (fn. 308) tramway employees, marine firemen, seamen, and dock labourers. (fn. 309) In 1883 the Hull Trades Council successfully put forward a candidate at the School Board elections, who polled 12,000 votes, (fn. 310) and in 1889 it secured a second representative; this was a curious local variant of the national history of labour representation. In 1886 the Hull Boilermakers' and Iron Shipbuilders' Society claimed 850 adult members and 150 others aged between 13 and 18, (fn. 311) and in 1892–3 the Amalgamated Society of Engineers stated that it had 1,137 members in Hull. (fn. 312) Trawlermen were organized in the National Federation of Fishermen, though evidence of their numbers in Hull was not produced. (fn. 313) Barge- and lighter-men were to be found both in the Dockers' Union and in an independent Union of the Lightermen and Watermen of the Humber, 800 union members in all. (fn. 314) The Dockers' Union also claimed 1,500 members in the seedcrushing industry and an unstated number of dockers. (fn. 315) The Railway Workers' Union had 800 members. (fn. 316) The seamen in Hull were an independent local union, the Hull Seamen's and Firemen's Association, which remained separate at least until 1920, and stated that it had 1,000 members. (fn. 317) The Hull Co-operative Society was founded in 1890 and grew rapidly thereafter. (fn. 318)
Employment in Shipping and Railway Occupations in Hull, 1871 and 1891 (fn. 520)
|Barge- and water-men||692||1,286|
This growth seems to have been greatly stimulated by the success of the London dock strike of August 1889, and the subsequent trade union activity. The summer of 1889 had in any case been a time of unrest in Hull, with strikes of engineers, shipwrights, and seamen. (fn. 319) In December 1889 a branch of the Dockers' Union was formed in Hull, Ben Tillett, the general secretary, coming to the town and addressing mass meetings. (fn. 320) From this point the local branch grew rapidly until by the beginning of 1893 it could claim to be the best organized in the country. (fn. 321)
The Hull dock strike of 1893 marked a turning-point in the national conflict in the shipping industry between the owners, represented by the Shipping Federation, which had been founded in 1891, and the Dockers' Union. Between 1889 and 1893 unemployment had been rising in the country as a whole: in January and February 1893 an inquiry by the Eastern Morning News, based on a questionnaire to local clergy, suggested that except in the fish dock and the seed-crushing mills there was general and real distress. (fn. 322) Of the 182 ships owned in Hull 44, including many of the largest, were laid up, and a further 8 were frozen up in the Baltic; it was considered that there was two days' work a week available for only 2,000 men. There were attempts to persuade the Boards of Guardians to organize relief through public works, but this they refused to do. A distress fund launched by the mayor collected only £255. (fn. 323)
It was in this bitter atmosphere that the Shipping Federation decided to open a 'Free Labour Exchange', an organization which would apparently give preference to non-members of the Dockers' Union. This decision to take advantage of the shortage of work in Hull must have been in some way associated with a change of heart by Charles Wilson. As late as 1892 Hull witnesses had stated 'so far as Hull is concerned we are troubled very little with the Shipping Federation. One of the largest shipowners in the kingdom I believe, Mr. Wilson, will not have anything to do with the federation'. (fn. 324) But in February 1893 he rejoined the federation. Whether this was the result of a specific incident or of a general fear that any further concession to the dockers would divert trade from Hull to other ports is not clear. (fn. 325)
On 6 April the dockers decided to strike, stating that they were willing to work with 'free' labour provided that it was not given a systematic preference, and that they were willing to see foremen and clerks organized in a separate union. (fn. 326) In a system of casual labour the sympathies of the foremen were clearly crucial. This Wilson refused to accept, and it is clear that the initiative in forcing matters to open conflict lay with him. The strike lasted six weeks and was handled with a conspicuous display of force. Police were drafted to Hull from Leeds, Nottingham, and the Metropolitan Police, and were reported to be very much tougher in their methods than the local police. (fn. 327) In the existing shipping depression it was not difficult to recruit 'free' labour in other ports—even from as far away as Cardiff. (fn. 328) Keir Hardie had been elected to Parliament in the general election of 1892, and the Hull dock strike provided the first occasion on which he could act on behalf of labour in the Commons: he persistently questioned the Home Secretary, Asquith, on the conduct of affairs in Hull, and obtained the damaging admission that of the 38 magistrates in Hull, 4 were shipowners and a further 19 had financial interests in the shipping companies. (fn. 329)
The strike ended, as might have been expected in the existing depression, with complete capitulation by the men and with the attempted suicide of the local secretary of the dockers. In future no foremen or gangers were to belong to the union, and no union officials were to be allowed where the men were at work. (fn. 330) The failure of the strike marked the effective end, for the time being, of militant trade unionism in Hull. In 1903 it was reported that the membership of the Trades Council had at first decreased considerably, but that after 1895 a slow recovery had begun. (fn. 331) In the national outbreak of strikes in the summer of 1911 there were again strikes in Hull—of seamen, dockers, oil-millers, and tanners—with considerable dislocation to trade. Once again it was reported that Metropolitan Police, 500 strong, had been drafted to the Hull docks. (fn. 332)
Municipal Enterprise, 1870–1914
The corporation had played an active part in the promotion of the Hull and Barnsley Railway, and it was similarly willing to use its funds for other public utilities, particularly if they could be shown to further the commercial interests of the port. This behaviour was typical of other large towns of the period, especially since municipal enterprise in such fields as transport, gas, and electricity was favoured by legislation after 1870. In Hull the new municipal undertakings of these years were distinguished by their exceptional commercial success, corporation electricity, tramways, and telephones all producing substantial profits, an achievement which was not always matched elsewhere. (fn. 333) At the same time the reluctance of the ratepayers to accept expenditure on schemes which could not pay their way—improved drainage or municipal housing, for example—was as noticeable in the years before 1914 as it had been in the 1850s.
In 1880 the corporation obtained parliamentary authority to supply electricity to the town, but took no further action after a limited installation by a private company had failed in 1884. (fn. 334) By 1889 several companies which were operating in other towns were anxious to extend their activities to Hull if the corporation did not take advantage of the powers that it possessed. Spurred into action by this threat, the corporation applied successfully in 1890 for a provisional order to run an electricity undertaking; though it benefited only the Old Town, it was opened in 1893. It had been financed by a loan of £35,000, borrowed at 3 per cent. interest. Consumption rose rapidly, however, and by 1895 it was making a gross profit of 9 per cent. (fn. 335) The price of current was reduced in the same year. Thereafter the undertaking grew steadily and remained profitable down to the First World War.
The corporation embarked on the provision of transport at about the same time. Here, again, it was not the first in the field for two companies were already in existence. (fn. 336) One of these, the Hull Street Tramway Company, operated horse-drawn trams. It boasted one of the lowest tariffs in the country, a uniform fare of a penny from terminus to terminus, but it was unable to pay its way and in 1890 it went bankrupt. The second company, the Drypool and Marfleet Steam Tramway Company, was on a sounder financial footing. The future of the bankrupt Street Tram Company was the subject of protracted negotiations between 1890 and 1895. No other private company appeared with an offer to buy it out, and the extent of the town, especially the distances to be travelled east and west behind the Humber waterfront, made public transport a necessity. Some kind of municipal intervention was inescapable, and the corporation works committee discussed three possible courses. The corporation might buy the existing installations, put them in repair, and lease them to a reconstituted Street Tram Company; it might buy them and operate them itself; or it might buy out both companies and convert the whole system to electric traction. It was the last course that was finally adopted. Throughout, the members of the works committee showed themselves eager to embark on municipal transport: opposition came from outside, and ultimately from the local chamber of trade and from those who argued that it was yet to be proved that municipal transport could be run at a profit. (fn. 337) The chamber of trade declared that it would resist 'until such time as every householder is made to bear his or her proper share of the burden'. (fn. 338)
Such doubts were finally overcome, perhaps as a consequence of the immediate success of the electricity undertaking, and the Street Tram Company was bought out for £12,500 in August 1895. (fn. 339) The Steam Tram Company survived for another four years but was in its turn bought out, for £15,500, in 1899. (fn. 340) The corporation thereupon embarked on the renewal of the track and the electrification of the whole system. The introduction of municipal trams had been an expensive enterprise, costing altogether nearly £100,000—very much more than the initial expenditure on electricity or telephones. But it proved strikingly profitable: in 1903 £23,000 was transferred to the city fund in relief of the rates, and smaller sums were transferred annually thereafter. (fn. 341) The fears of the ratepayers had proved very wide of the mark.
The third and much the most celebrated expansion of municipal activity was in the construction of a telephone system. Of the half-dozen municipal telephone undertakings established before 1914, that of Hull alone survived, and the stages by which it was developed deserve to be described in some detail. (fn. 342) The Post Office had begun operating in Hull about 1880, on a small scale, and in 1890 the National Telephone Company set up its first exchange. The N.T.C. made repeated efforts to get powers from Parliament to obtain wayleaves at reasonable expense from the property-owners and local authorities over whose land its wires had to pass. Such powers might have been more easily obtained by a flourishing Post Office telephone department: without them a profit-making company could provide only a relatively expensive service. The N.T.C. found itself attacked both by those who held that telephones, like telegraphs, should be a monopoly administered by the Post Office, and by those who were campaigning for municipal telephones. These attacks were made more effective by the fact that the most important patents held by the company expired between 1890 and 1893. (fn. 343) In these circumstances, in Hull as elsewhere, there was a campaign in 1898 and 1899 to persuade the corporation to set up a municipal exchange: a petition from the chamber of trade contained 830 signatures of people pledged to subscribe for over 1,000 instruments. (fn. 344) It has been suggested that this pressure came particularly from the wholesale fishmongers, to whom a cheap telephone service would have been a great advantage. Before the decision to establish a municipal system had been taken, however, the corporation had made an agreement with the N.T.C. in March 1899 of the greatest importance to the future of the undertaking. This provided for the continuance of the existing wayleaves, but contained a provision that the agreement could be ended at any time by the corporation on giving six months' notice, and that if this were done the company would be obliged to remove its wires and conduits from buildings and streets. In the following month, during debate in Parliament of a Bill empowering the Post Office to grant licences to operate municipal telephone systems, a clause was proposed making it a condition of such licences that wayleaves to the N.T.C. should be continued. In response to this new situation the corporation decided to terminate its agreement with the company before the Bill became law; notice was duly given in August 1899 and a telephones sub-committee of the corporation was set up in November to supervise the establishment of a municipal system. (fn. 345)
There followed a lawsuit between company and corporation in which the company claimed that it had not been given the six months' notice stipulated in the March agreement. In 1903 the corporation won its case, but the N.T.C. gave notice of appeal. (fn. 346) At this point the parties agreed to a settlement which gave the Hull telephone system a position far stronger than that of any other municipal system: corporation subscribers were to have full inter-communication with the N.T.C. system which was not only much larger in Hull itself, but had provided by this time a network of trunk lines, much more expensive to administer. Thus the corporation exchange, which was opened in 1904, (fn. 347) was able to offer lower tariffs than the N.T.C. and yet run at a profit, whereas other municipal exchanges which were established at this time but did not obtain the right to inter-communication, quickly lost money and were abandoned.
The corporation exchange was established under licence from the Post Office, with two important provisions: that the undertaking should pay a royalty of 10 per cent. on its gross receipts to the Post Office, and that the licence was to run until 31 December 1911. The corporation's relations with the N.T.C. had scarcely been settled when the renewal of the Post Office licence became an urgent question. By the beginning of 1906 it was known that the Post Office had decided to buy out the N.T.C. when its own licence expired, also in 1911, and to institute a government monopoly. (fn. 348) There were discussions in 1906 with the Postmaster-General of the terms on which the corporation might be bought out, but, when these proved unsatisfactory, Hull decided to fight for the renewal of its municipal system. (fn. 349) The nationalization of the telephone system in 1911 was carried out without prejudice to existing municipal undertakings, and Hull was able to obtain a renewal of its licence for 21 years from 1 January 1912. (fn. 350) The licence has since been again renewed and the 10 per cent. royalty has continued to the present day. In 1912 the loan debt of the telephone undertaking was just over £50,000; ten years later, after the purchase of the N.T.C. installation, it was nearly £200,000. (fn. 351)
After a hesitant approach to tramway management in the nineties, the corporation entered eagerly into subsequent trading undertakings and succeeded in running them at a profit. This period was also one of considerable expenditure on public works in Hull: on the municipal asylum, opened in 1883 and costing £50,000; on a fever hospital, built in 1885 at a cost of £13,000 in response to the local public health agitation of the early 1880s; on a crematorium, the first in the country to be municipally owned, which was opened in 1901; on public libraries; on East and West Parks, opened in 1887 and 1885 respectively; and on the monumental new Guildhall, which was still under construction in 1913, and was then estimated to be likely to cost £150,000. (fn. 352) Finally, there began in 1899 an ambitious and effective programme of street improvement which largely created the modern pattern of traffic routes through Hull. Some parts of the programme had been discussed and rejected as far back as the 1870s, and it seems probable that the introduction of electric trams precipitated a decision. King Edward Street was cut through a maze of small streets, from the end of Prospect Street to the swing bridge between Queen's and Prince's Docks, which led to Whitefriargate and the Old Town. A second new road, Alfred Gelder Street, led from this bridge along the south side of the Guildhall to Drypool Bridge over the River Hull; and a third, a continuation of the existing Clarence Street, ran through another slum district, which had been built on the site of the old muck-garths of the 1850s, to join Holderness Road at its junction with Witham. The combined effect of these improvements was to provide a main route through the town, from the east to the north. A second route, running east to west, was provided by the building of Jameson Street, again through an extremely closely-built district, from Paragon Station, across the junction of Prospect and King Edward Streets, to link with George Street. The route was continued to the east of George Street over North Bridge, to Witham and Holderness and Hedon Roads. The powers to carry out these works were obtained by provisional order in 1899.
The scale and effect of all these measures is clearly shown in the figures of the city's public debt (see Table 10). To some extent this programme of expenditure was helped by falling interest rates and easier terms for municipal borrowing after 1870. The loans incurred in the mid-19th century had been at 4 or more often 5 per cent., repayable in some cases over 20 years. (fn. 353) By the Hull Corporation Loans Act of 1881 (fn. 354) the corporation was empowered to create capital stock and convert its existing debt. The stock so created in the 1880s bore interest at 3½ per cent. and was repayable after 30 years. This debt, though it greatly increased in the period under review, remained small in relation to the growth in rateable value, which grew from £375,387 in 1871 to £712,131 in 1891 and £1,201,231 in 1911. The rates, including the education rate, themselves increased from an average of 3s. 1½d. in the years 1880–5 to 7s. 2¾d. in the years 1910–14. (fn. 355)
Public Debt of the Corporation, 1881, 1902, and 1912 (fn. 521)
The debt nevertheless remained much smaller than in many towns of comparable size. For this Hull's water supply was chiefly responsible. In Birmingham, Lancashire, or the West Riding local authorities had been compelled to dam valleys and bring water from great distances, and the greater part of their debt had been incurred in doing so. In Hull, apart from some minor improvements in the early seventies, the pumping system from artesian wells at Springhead, which had been opened in 1862, satisfied local needs without further expenditure. It was not until after the First World War that water supplies again became a serious problem.
Public Health and Housing, 1870–1914
In dealing with public health the corporation was less successful, though this may largely be attributed to the limitations imposed upon it by the prevailing state of public opinion. After 1876, when it took over the duties of the former local board of health, the corporation had sole responsibility in this field. The borough engineer's department was created at the same time. By 1870 the attempt to use water from the River Hull at Stoneferry had been abandoned, and an adequate supply from Springhead was available all over the town; but the old privy system, with its attendant nuisances of night-soil collectors and muck-garths, still remained general, except in the newest middle-class housing. The system of drainage, produced with so much controversy in the fifties and sixties, still discharged sewage into the Humber by gravitation only, with the result that the outfalls were closed by the tides for about seventeen hours a day. (fn. 356) While this arrangement was an obvious target for attack by sanitary reformers, there is no definite evidence that public health suffered from it.
The death-rate in Hull in the 1870s was much the same as in other large towns—an average of 24.0 per mille between 1870 and 1881 compared with 24.2 in the twenty large towns analysed by the Registrar-General. This nevertheless did not show much improvement on the mean death-rate in Hull in the cholera years 1841–7—27.5 per mille (fn. 357) —and it was a situation which contained potential dangers. First, the population continued to grow rapidly in the years after 1870 with the likelihood of further overcrowding and fresh strains on inadequate public services. Secondly, Hull, as a large port, had its distinctive sanitary problems. There was the constant risk of epidemics introduced from abroad, which was made the more serious by the shiploads of immigrants who arrived in Hull, usually on the way to Liverpool and America. (fn. 358) Again, the manufactures and other trades which grew up in the port, particularly in the later part of the century, introduced a considerable number of potentially offensive establishments. There were, for example, fish manure works; slaughter-houses, dealing with increasing numbers of foreign cattle in this period; soap manufactories; and seedcrushing mills. 'It requires vigilant inspection', a contemporary investigator remarked, 'to keep down nuisances in Hull. The number of different trades carried on in the town is so great, and there is such a quantity of waste matter to be got rid of, that the result might easily be less satisfactory than it is.' (fn. 359) Perhaps the worst result was the continuing practice of converting disused brickyards into building sites and making up their surfaces with refuse. 'All the nondescript putrescible organic matter', the same investigator continued, 'that is to be found in the market, stall, and shop sweepings, kitchen refuse, street scrapings, and dust heaps of a great seaport town (conspicuously fish-heads and bad oranges) have gone to form the ground on which many of the back streets of Hull are built.' (fn. 360)
The process of sanitary improvement was accelerated by two crises. The first of these was a scarlet fever epidemic which killed 689 people in the registration districts of Hull and Sculcoates in the second half of 1881. The average age of those who died was less than five. (fn. 361) This provoked a considerable public outcry, and in particular two influential statements of opinion—one from the clergy of the Rural Deanery of Hull, and the other from 59 of the 72 doctors practising in the town, who took the initiative as they had done in the cholera agitation of the 1840s. A government inquiry was held, which endorsed the criticisms of clergy and doctors. As a result, and before public anxiety had time to evaporate, several necessary improvements were made: pumps were installed at the outfall of the western, and later of the eastern, drainage systems; a new fever hospital was built in place of a ramshackle wooden building on the Citadel site; an attempt was made to improve the system of night-soil collection by reducing the number of contractors from 52 to 9; a refuse destructor was built; and, hardly less important, the post of medical officer of health and port medical officer was made a full-time one. (fn. 362)
The epidemic of 1881 also had a more lasting effect in the formation of a Sanitary Association, which existed from 1884 to 1893 and of which the chief supporters were J. Malet Lambert, Vicar of Newland, (fn. 363) and William Hunt, editor of the Eastern Morning News. Like his predecessor, Collins, Hunt gave much prominence in his paper to social questions, in particular to surveys of slum housing. (fn. 364)
The second crisis was more prolonged and serious, and could be more convincingly associated with the sanitary defects of the town. It arose from the heavy mortality from infantile diarrhoea: total deaths from this cause, of which by far the greatest number were of children under one year old, averaged 237 a year in the 1870s, and rose slowly to an annual average of 311 in the first decade of the 20th century. The worst year of all was 1911, in which there were 608 deaths. (fn. 365) This situation had been noticed by Dr. Airy in his inquiry of 1882, and had been strongly criticized by the local government board in 1900. (fn. 366) The sanitary committee of the corporation made a detailed investigation of the problem in 1901 and 1902, comparing mortality in those towns where water closets were general with those, such as Hull, where they were not. They recommended that the corporation should take powers to convert privies to water closets by stages, beginning with those houses, amounting to about 11,000, built before the framing of the provisional order of 1893 which required that houses should have separate back entries. Altogether nearly 50,000 houses would be affected. (fn. 367)
Such a programme had been carried out in about twenty towns, and the local authorities had usually paid between 50 and 100 per cent. of the conversion costs, except in cases where individual privies could be proved to be unhealthy. It was clear that the work would have meant a major invasion of established rights and a great public expense. The programme was supported by the Trades and Labour Council, whose members lived in such houses, but bitterly opposed by property-owners, ratepayers, market-gardeners, and members of the corporation themselves, and it was finally abandoned after a poll of ratepayers against it in 1902. (fn. 368) The corporation's local Act of 1903 merely contained a provision that water closets would be compulsory in all future houses. (fn. 369) No progress took place before the First World War, and the privy conversions were mostly carried out between 1923 and 1925 with the aid of Exchequer loans to property-owners. (fn. 370)
In the same way in the absence of national subsidies or of direct compulsion by the government, the provision of municipal housing made very little progress before 1914. In only a few places, Liverpool and Birmingham in particular, was anything done. In spite of the agitation which has already been described, action in Hull was largely restricted to the condemning of individual unhealthy houses: between 1890 and 1910 779 houses, mostly those in narrow passages and alleys, were condemned and demolished, and a further 251 condemned but subsequently repaired by their owners. (fn. 371) A proposal was made during the depressed winter of 1895–6 that the corporation should initiate public works for the unemployed, in particular the covering-in of the open drains which ran across the city, but the scheme came to nothing. (fn. 372) Altogether the character of the inner working-class districts of Hull changed little between the 1840s and the outbreak of war in 1914. One significant development was the establishment of the city architect's department in 1900 as a result of the increasing amount of architectural work undertaken by the city engineer.
Religion and Education, 1870–1914
In 1869 Holy Trinity Church was reopened after prolonged restoration work. The occasion was marked by the calling of a Church conference, under the active patronage of Archbishop W. Thomson, which may be considered the starting point of a new phase of Church history in Hull. (fn. 373) Papers were read by clergy and laymen; T. H. Travis, the stipendiary magistrate, spoke on vice and crime in Hull; William Hunt, editor of the Eastern Morning News, of the importance of the press in the formation of opinion; Canon Scott on the possibility of attracting larger congregations by shorter services, and Canon Brooke, the new Vicar of Holy Trinity, on church extension in Hull. (fn. 374) Throughout the proceedings the emphasis was upon the failure of the Church in Hull to maintain its hold on the people, and upon its previous indifference to social questions. Whereas the population between 1849 and 1869 had increased from 80,000 to 126,000, the number of churches had increased only from 11 to 13, together with 6 mission halls; in the same time nonconformist chapels increased from 24 to 36, 'most of them very large'.
Certainly, after 1870 the pace of church-building in Hull quickened, and 12 new churches were built in the following 35 years. Unlike the churches of mid-Victorian Hull, these did not in general have primary schools attached to them, and it is possible that the larger funds available for church-building resulted from the fact that after 1870 the State relieved the Church of the cost of school-building. In 1891 Hull became the seat of a suffragan bishop. (fn. 375) In this period, too, the evangelical traditions of Hull began to weaken. To a small extent this had begun before 1870. A decisive change came however, with the appointment of E. J. Tyser as Vicar of St. Mary's in 1892, for in the years that followed he made various ritualistic changes there. (fn. 376)
Between 1870 and 1914 there was a strong local emphasis on the Church's social duties. W. H. Abraham, Vicar of St. Augustine's, Newland, from 1892 to 1907, discussed the Church's attitude to the conditions of working-class life in his Studies of a Socialist Parson, which was published in Hull in 1892. J. Malet Lambert was a more influential public figure. He was Vicar of St. John's, Newland, from 1881 to 1912, chairman of the Hull School Board and the corporation's higher education subcommittee, and first chairman of the council of Hull University College. At the beginning of his career he took a leading part in the work of the Hull Sanitary Association of the 1880s, writing articles in the Eastern Morning News on working-class housing. He was also a sympathetic supporter of the trade union movement in Hull in the 1880s. (fn. 377)
While it is not possible to give figures of Anglican church membership, it may be suspected that the Primitive Methodists and Wesleyan Methodists were, taken together, a more numerous body. At the School Board elections of 1883, for example, the Wesleyan candidates polled many more votes than the Anglican. (fn. 378) Membership of the Primitive Methodist churches fluctuated between 4,000 and 4,500 between 1870 and 1914. That of the Wesleyan Methodist churches grew from nearly 4,500 in 1870 to 5,500 in 1900, and thereafter declined slightly. (fn. 379) Both bodies continued to be active in chapelbuilding. The status of the Wesleyans is suggested by the fact that the two most prominent businessmen in the town at the time, Joseph Rank and T. R. Ferens, were active members. (fn. 380) The remaining Protestant nonconformist denominations were much smaller. An addition to the town's foreign churches was a Danish Lutheran church, for both residents and seamen, which was opened in 1871.
In contrast it seems probable that the total number of Roman Catholics was increasing in this period. There was a Roman Catholic member of the School Board from the beginning, and in 1883 he polled nearly 12,000 votes. It would, however, be impossible to say what relation the number of votes bore to the number of Roman Catholics in the town. The number of churches had risen to four by 1914. The increase in the Jewish population is suggested by the building of two further synagogues in this period.
The influence of nonconformity in the town is indicated both in the composition of the School Board and in the popularity of temperance activities. There is a considerable local temperance pamphlet literature. Hunt of the Eastern Morning News continued the temperance propaganda which his predecessor, Collins of the Advertiser, had begun. A large chain of temperance hotels in the town was owned by the Hull People's Public House Company: there were nineteen by 1891, the total receipts of which are stated to have been £25,000 a year, which, together with a dividend of 10 per cent., suggests a flourishing movement. The largest, 'the Cobden', stood in Charles Street; another, in a former Methodist chapel in Beverley Road, suggests the auspices under which the company was run. (fn. 381)
The first School Board under the Education Act of 1870 was elected without contest in 1871. (fn. 382) Its fifteen members included four Anglicans, one Roman Catholic, two Primitive Methodists, one Wesleyan, the secretaries of the East Hull Ragged Schools and of the British and Foreign Schools, as well as the mayor, Robert Jameson, and two members who declared themselves to be 'uncompromisingly undenominational'. This result had been achieved by much negotiation: clearly it was hoped that all shades of opinion would be united with the minimum of sectarian warfare. By the election of 1883, (fn. 383) which was the first after the boundary revision of 1882, the truce had broken down, and the result on that occasion gives a clear picture of the religious and social character of the town. The members were: E. Robson (a brewer and independent), 15,575 votes; Charles Jennings (a cooper, Labour), 12,027; Canon Randerson (Roman Catholic), 11,953; Chapman (Ratepayers), 9,811; Holmes (Wesleyan), 8,674; Wing (Radical), 7,496; Myers (Wesleyan), 6,755; G. Lamb (Primitive Methodist), 6,050; Burwell (Independent Churchman), 5,719; Canon Scott (Church of England), 5,703; Fraser (unsectarian), 5,661; Haller (Ratepayers), 5,497; Hall (Primitive Methodist), 5,106; Pool (unsectarian), 4,997; Holmes (Church of England), 4,797.
Those who failed to get elected were three Anglican, two unsectarian, one temperance, and, at the bottom of the poll, four independent candidates. The education question was a matter of keener public interest than most political issues, and this result is important as showing the surprising strength of organized labour some years before the London dock strike of 1889, (fn. 384) the large vote given to the Roman Catholic candidate, and the relative weakness of the Church of England. By 1889 there were two Labour representatives on the Board. (fn. 385)
The School Board made great efforts to provide new schools for the growing population, and the number of places available was rapidly increased. The Board was slow, nevertheless, to introduce more than the minimum educational facilities. Secondary education, outside the province of the Board, presented greater difficulties. The tepid interest shown by the town down to 1870 at first changed little, but significant progress was made in the 1890s with the recovery of the Grammar School and the foundation of Hymers College and Hull High School for Girls. In the field of technical education the 1890s also saw the establishment of the Municipal Technical School, with which the existing School of Art became associated. The question of university education, too, was ventilated, though with little immediate result.
From 1903 onwards, as the Local Education Authority, the corporation was responsible for co-ordinating, expanding, and improving the facilities for elementary, secondary, and technical education which it had inherited. It responded sluggishly, however, to the need for further special educational institutions, and it was dilatory in the provision of secondary schools. In the latter field, the independent, though rateaided, Hymers College was pre-eminent. Higher education continued to be supplied by the School of Art and the Technical School, facilities at both being improved, and two new teacher-training colleges were built. There were also renewed proposals for a university college, though nothing came of them before 1914.
Under the Reform Act of 1867 the number of voters rose from 8,414 in 1865 to 17,146 in 1868. In these circumstances bribery of the old kind would have been no longer a practicable proposition, though as late as 1911 the Conservative member for Central Hull was unseated for bribery, the form which it took on this occasion being the distribution of coal and free children's entertainments. (fn. 386) The increase in the electorate seems to have been preceded, rather than accompanied, by the development of a more definite political alignment than had existed in Hull since the 1830s. At the general election of 1865, when the issue of further parliamentary reform was already in the air, there were two conservative and two liberal candidates; the candidates of each party stood independently of one another in the old manner, but 'for the first time for several years Hull chose two members who would not neutralise each other's votes. The Liberal candidates were elected by overwhelming majorities'. (fn. 387) The successful candidates were James Clay, who had represented the borough for many years, (fn. 388) and a newcomer, C. M. Norwood, who exemplified a new trend in Hull politics in that he was both a local man and a shipowner. In 1874 and 1880 Norwood was again returned, in the company of Charles Wilson, the shipowner. Though both were Liberals, they were Radical rather than Whig in their sympathies, as was indicated by the fact that both belonged to the handful of M.P.s who as early as 1874 declared themselves to be home-rulers. (fn. 389) In Hull they were supported by the kind of political organization made famous by Joseph Chamberlain: there are references to a 'Liberal 200' in 1879. (fn. 390)
By the Redistribution Act of 1884 Hull was divided into three single-member constituencies. At the election of December 1885, a Conservative, H. S. King, was returned for Central Hull, Wilson for West Hull, and another Liberal, W. Saunders, for East Hull. In the summer of 1886 a second Conservative was returned for East Hull in opposition to home rule, but in the election of 1892 the former pattern of two Liberals and one Conservative was restored. The election of 1895 was exceptional, and may well reflect the bitter feelings which had been aroused by the dock strike. King was again returned for the more middle-class, residential, Central Hull, but in East Hull the Liberals were defeated, and in West Hull, though Wilson was again returned, a Labour candidate, T. McCarthy, the first to stand in Hull, polled 1,400 votes against him. No Conservative candidate stood. In 1900 Wilson was returned with two Conservatives. In 1906 there were two Liberals, T. R. Ferens for East Hull, and Wilson's son, C. H. W. Wilson, for West Hull, and a similar result occurred in 1910. No further Labour candidates had stood in parliamentary elections after 1895. (fn. 391) The running of Labour candidates for School Board elections has already been described. Candidates were also put forward in the early years of the 20th century for the borough elections, two Hull Trades Council candidates being returned in the election of 1902 and three in 1903. (fn. 392)
The local press was probably an important element in the formation of Liberal opinion between 1865 and 1885. The first daily newspaper, the Eastern Morning News, was founded in 1864 by William Saunders, who was elected Liberal member for East Hull in December 1885. In 1867, after the retirement of Collins, the Eastern Morning News bought out the Hull Advertiser, with which it was in political sympathy. From that time there was a Liberal-Radical daily newspaper, with no Conservative daily in opposition. The editor of the Eastern Morning News, William Hunt, was a strong Gladstonian, and a keen supporter of the local sanitary agitation of the 1880s; (fn. 393) Saunders himself was well to the left of the Liberals, being a disciple of Henry George. In 1886 Hunt was succeeded as editor by J. A. Spender, the nephew of the founder and proprietor, who thus began his career as a Liberal journalist. He continued as editor until 1891. J. L. Garvin also began his career on the Eastern Morning News at this time. (fn. 394)
Economic Development, 1914–39
The last few years before 1914 saw a peak in the prosperity of Hull which was not to be reached again for many years. In 1913 the tonnage entering the port, 6,692,000, was a record figure, not matched until 6,597,000 tons were recorded in 1923. (fn. 395) Coal exports from Hull in 1913, 4,519,000 tons, were never again equalled, though the figure for 1923, 4,338,000 tons, during the exceptional conditions created by the French occupation of the Ruhr, came very close. (fn. 396) Imports of wheat reached a peak of 19,630,000 cwt. in 1912, and after the war they did not reach this level again until 1931. (fn. 397)
The pre-war development culminated in the opening by the king in June 1914 of King George Dock. This dock had been under discussion since at least 1893 and had been building since 1907. It was the largest and deepest of the Hull docks, designed to compete effectively with the Great Central's dock at Immingham. The Salt End oil jetty had been built at the same time. (fn. 398)
The war broke out five weeks later. It marked the beginning of a new and more difficult phase in Hull's economic development, not only on account of the immediate wartime difficulties, but also because, in many cases, the trends begun in 1914 were continued between the two world wars. The immediate impact of war was seen in the extreme dislocation of shipping. This occurred in all ports, of course, but it was made graver in Hull because of the preponderance of northern European trade there. In the Baltic trade August brought a seasonal peak before the closing of the sea by ice. Many British ships were in Russian ports when war was declared and were unable to escape through the German patrols in the Kattegat; (fn. 399) other ships were caught in north German ports. At the end of 1914 the Wilson Line responded by re-routing its St. Petersburg sailings via Archangel. (fn. 400)
The war brought a new set of trading conditions, most of which were to Hull's disadvantage. Trade with Germany, which in 1913 had accounted for 11.6 per cent. of the tonnage arriving and departing from Hull, was naturally completely severed. Trade with Russia, one of Hull's principal suppliers of timber and oil-seeds, dwindled in 1915 and 1916, and in 1917 40 ships arrived in Hull from Russian ports, compared with 757 in 1913. (fn. 401) But there were also substantial compensations. Apart from Russia and Germany, the greatest volume of Hull's trade was with Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Holland. All these were neutral countries, and all possessed large merchant fleets; the trade in Norwegian and Swedish timber and in Dutch and Danish agricultural products had before the war been largely carried on in foreign ships, and as the war proceeded neutral tonnage was increasingly able to take the place of British tonnage, reduced through sinkings and government requisition, or diverted to other trades (see Table 11). Thus for the greater part of the war Hull's imports of dairy produce and timber (see Table 12) suffered little reduction. Their eventual decline may be traced to two causes. All imports in neutral ships were drastically reduced by the German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in February 1917. And the timber trade came under government control in the same month: sales of timber were allowed only to holders of permits.
Entrances of Shipping into Ports of the U.K. in Particular Trades (thousand net tons) (fn. 522)
Imports of Dairy Produce and Timber into Hull, 1914–18 (fn. 523)
Hull was also affected by the diversion of shipping, in order to reduce the risk of enemy attack, whether by the decisions of shipowners or by government order. In a few cases this was to Hull's advantage: the decline in imports of hewn timber, mostly from Canada, was offset by the increased imports of sawn timber from Sweden, which were diverted from west coast ports. But imports of other commodities suffered: the wool trade from Australia, which had been built up in the years before the war, collapsed—from an import of 30,000,000 lb. in 1914 to 3,300,000 in 1915. In November 1915 the government took powers to control the shipment of grain across the North Atlantic; and while Liverpool's imports of wheat remained stable, those of Hull declined from 16,744,000 cwt. in 1914, to 7,129,000 in 1917, and 4,759,000 in 1918. (fn. 402) Much the same thing happened to the imports of oils and seeds. The industry came under government control in May 1917: imports declined sharply, and by the end of the year it was stated that crushing mills in Hull were being partly supplied from Liverpool. (fn. 403) Hull's coal exports declined from the same causes; as fewer ships entered the port, so fewer could take home a return cargo of coal, and exports declined from 3,056,000 tons in 1914 to 1,300,000 annually in the years 1916 to 1918. (fn. 404)
One unexpected and incidental advantage accrued to Hull in the shape of an increased trade in palm kernels. These were brought to Hull by an Antwerp-owned line, the Compagnie Belge Maritime du Congo, which had formerly carried them to Hamburg. (fn. 405) The war years saw the introduction to this country of the manufacture of margarine, which had formerly been carried on in Germany and Holland. In 1917 British Oil and Cake Mills opened a factory in Hull which was stated to be capable of producing 200 tons a week of both margarine and cooking fat. (fn. 406) This may be compared with a total national output in 1918 of about 5,000 tons a week, and an output by the largest individual producer at that time of 2,400 tons. (fn. 407) At this stage there was ground for hoping that 'one day Hull should be a national margarine producing and exporting centre'. (fn. 408)
The oversea trade and the shipping industry were thus severely damaged during the war. The total tonnage of shipping arriving in the port, in the foreign trade, declined from 4,705,000 tons in 1913 to 1,605,000 in 1917. (fn. 409) Losses to shipowners from sinkings were also severe: the tonnage registered at Hull fell from 238,000 in 1913 to 182,000 in 1917. (fn. 410) The misfortunes of the Wilson Line were nationally well-known. It started the war with a fleet of 79 ships, of a total gross tonnage of over 203,000; by October 1916 15 of these had been lost. Both the Wilson brothers were now dead, and in that month Sir John Ellerman acquired the line and merged it with his own. (fn. 411) This event, which created alarm and dismay in Hull, was in fact one of several such mergers carried out by the liner companies in 1916: by the amalgamation of two depleted fleets it was possible to maintain the more important regular services. (fn. 412) Difficulties of another kind were experienced by the fishing industry, which suffered not only from the obvious dangers of fishing in the North Sea, but also from Admiralty requisitioning, particularly of the largest and newest vessels.
Between the wars the growth of the population of Hull, which had been slowing down since the 1880s, came virtually to a halt, and economic development remained subject to some of the influences which had been operative between 1914 and 1918. The population of the borough grew slowly from 287,000 in 1921 to 314,000 in 1931. (fn. 413) Between 1921 and 1928 there was a migration of population away from the town, reaching a peak in 1925–6, some of which may be accounted for by the growth of such dormitory villages as Cottingham, Hessle, and Willerby. During the worst years of the depression (1929–31), however, Hull gained by migration, the actual increase being about 12,000 more than could be accounted for by a natural increase. After 1931 the drift of population away from Hull began again, becoming greater in the years of economic recovery, 1936–8. These population movements follow closely the trend of local unemployment, which was greater in Hull than in England as a whole for most of the period between the wars, but below the national level in 1929–31. (fn. 414)
Trading relations with northern Europe remained subject to abnormal political and economic difficulties. Imports into the United Kingdom from Russia, for example, which had been worth £33,500,000 in 1920, dropped to £2,700,000 in 1921, together with £10,400,000 from the newly-independent Baltic states. Again, in the 1930s, with the adoption of imperial preference, national imports from Russia dropped from £32,300,000 in 1931 to £19,600,000 in 1932; and from Germany from £64,200,000 to £30,500,000 in the same period. (fn. 415) These persistent difficulties in the traditional areas of Hull's trade emphasized the need to develop new shipping connexions, new means of attracting imports to Hull, and new local industries. As far as port facilities were concerned, much use was made in the 1920s and 1930s of the catchphrase 'Britain's Third and Cheapest Port', Hull having the advantage that it was an 'overside' port. (fn. 416)
In general terms Hull maintained its position vis-à-vis other British ports between 1919 and 1939: its share of total United Kingdom trade, measured by the combined value of imports and exports, was 6 per cent. in 1913, fell to 5.3 per cent. in 1929, and returned to 6 per cent. in 1938. (fn. 417) Some relatively new imports flourished while others decayed. Hull's position as a wool port, which had begun to be established just before the war, was consolidated after 1918, and monthly wool sales were introduced in 1920. (fn. 418) By 1938 22 per cent. by value of the United Kingdom's imports of raw wool came through Hull, (fn. 419) compared with 6 per cent. in 1900. (fn. 420) Refined petrol imports also grew greatly in volume, and by 1938 amounted to 10 per cent. of United Kingdom imports. In 1922 the British Petroleum Company established a depot at Salt End with storage capacity for about 8,300,000 gallons, and Shell-Mex Ltd. already had a depot there with storage capacity for about 8,500,000 gallons. (fn. 421) Imports of wheat, which in 1914 had been 16 per cent. of the United Kingdom total, were 14 per cent. in 1938. Other commodities of which Hull continued to handle large quantities were oil-seeds (41 per cent. in 1938), dairy produce (7 per cent.), and wood (10 per cent.) imports, and cotton yarn exports (15 per cent). (fn. 422) The import of oil-seeds, large as it was, was in danger of being affected by the great development between the wars of Merseyside as the centre of soap and margarine production. The remaining important item of Hull's oversea trade, the export of coal, was subject to new and increasing difficulties, and declined here as elsewhere. After 1923 it reached 2,250,000 tons in 1924 and 2,000,000 in 1930, but otherwise was usually little more than 1,000,000 tons. In 1925 it was complained that Russia had taken 2,000,000 tons a year before the war, but had since become a competitor in the export field. (fn. 423)
The industrial development of Hull may be seen in the numbers employed in different trades in 1923 and 1937. There were some notable changes (see Table 13). The biggest proportional increase, that in distribution, exemplifies a national trend in this period. The increased number in building and the relatively low unemployment rate, which varied between 5 and 14 per cent. in the 1920s, will be discussed later in relation to municipal and private building. There was also a large increase in employment in grain-milling. In contrast, there was a fall in the numbers employed in several of the old-established and basic industries of Hull. The most conspicuous case was shipbuilding, where numbers were almost halved between 1923 and 1937. Shipbuilding, here as elsewhere, was depressed in the 1920s, about one-third of the workers being unemployed; but in Hull there were local complaints of unemployment as early as 1920, a year of great activity in shipbuilding elsewhere. Earle's continued to build an average of two or three ships a year in the 1920s, and produced marine engines to be supplied to yards in other towns. In 1932, however, the yard was closed down as part of a general policy for the rationalization of shipyards. (fn. 424)
The decline in numbers employed in the docks was relatively small between 1923 and 1937, but this may give a misleading impression. In the 1920s unemployment in the docks, except for 1923 and 1924, ranged between 38 and 49 per cent. of the insured workers. The problem was aggravated by the tendency of unemployed labour to migrate to Hull, or for labour unemployed in other Hull industries to compete for such work as was available in the docks. (fn. 425)
Number of Insured Workers in Hull, 1923 and 1937 (fn. 524)
|July 1923||July 1937|
|Gas, water, electricity||980||1,600|
|Dock and harbour||9,260||8,540|
|Chemicals and oils||10,110||9,010|
|Shipbuilding and repairing||4,080||2,080|
The fortunes of the seed-crushing industry between the wars were influenced by two factors—the tendency of consumer-goods industries to expand in places near to their markets, and the dominant position of Unilevers in the industry. At the end of the First World War there were three or four main firms at work in Hull: British Oil and Cake Mills, which had opened new premises in Foster Street in 1915, Premier Oil and Cake Mills, Waterloo Mills, and Hull Oil Manufacturing Company. (fn. 426) None of these had been involved in soap or margarine production until 1917, when B.O.C.M. embarked on the manufacture of margarine in Hull. In the post-war slump in margarine production, when butter again became available, it established in 1921 a new subsidiary, the British Soap Company, with a factory in Hull and began the manufacture of New Pin Soap. By 1925 its sales had risen to a point where they were regarded as a serious threat by Levers, and the amalgamation of Levers with B.O.C.M. took place that year. Thereafter 'the British Soap Company was slowly allowed to die', and the production of New Pin Soap ceased in Hull in 1933. (fn. 427) The firm continued to produce cooking fat until 1948, when production was transferred to the company's factory at Bromborough (Lancs.). With the early failure to establish soap and margarine manufacture in Hull the local demand for edible oils was bound to suffer: the Hull industry became dependent on the manufacture of technical oils and animal feeding-stuffs. Between 1914 and 1939 about ten mills belonging to Levers or to B.O.C.M. in Hull were closed down. (fn. 428) The manufacture of margarine in Hull was, however, again established by an independent firm in 1938, when Benninga (Hull) Ltd. began production. (fn. 429)
In contrast to this, there were several points at which employment and production grew to an important extent in Hull between the wars. The fishing industry expanded considerably (see Table 13). The tendency towards concentration of ownership continued: in 1934 52 per cent. of fishing vessels were owned by firms possessing more than nineteen trawlers each and nearly half of these were less than ten years old. The old 'fleeting' system was abandoned in the years after 1918. (fn. 430) New industries were also attracted to Hull between the wars, the most important being the manufacture of chemicals by Distillers Co. Ltd. This firm established a distillery at Salt End in 1925, and enlarged it in 1928. D.C.L. manufactured industrial alcohol, acetone, and other products, using its direct access to ships in the Humber for its raw materials. (fn. 431) Other industries which played an increasingly important part in Hull's economy were the manufacture of confectionery, by Needler's; radiators and boilers, by the National Radiator Co. (now Ideal-Standard Ltd.); drugs and surgical goods, by Reckitt's and T. J. Smith and Nephew; industrial belting, by Fenner's; and engineering goods, by Priestman Brothers. (fn. 432)
The economic structure of Hull between the wars is therefore unusual. Because of the relative lack of heavy industry, the town was spared the heavy unemployment experienced elsewhere between 1929 and 1931. Hull shipbuilding had never been on a very large scale. The unemployment figures for the 1930s did not, therefore, reach the levels of the shipbuilding towns of the north-east coast, and, when the Special Areas were designated in 1934, Hull was not among them. But, apart from 1929–31, the unemployment figures for Hull were nevertheless consistently above the national average. Two features of the situation were significant: first, apart from distribution there were comparatively few employment opportunities for women; and secondly, unemployment was heavy among unskilled labourers. The great expansion of the port down to 1914 had required the creation of a large unskilled labour force: any contraction of the volume of goods passing through the port, or any mechanization, fell heavily on these labourers.
An analysis of employment in Hull, prepared after 1945, (fn. 433) illustrates a situation that had existed before the war. It was shown that in 1947 18 per cent. of the total number of males employed were directly dependent on the port, and a further 23 per cent. were in jobs in some way associated with the port. This suggests that the root of Hull's difficulties since 1918 had not been the failure to attract new industries, but the fact that the volume of trade passing through the port did not increase at the old rate.
Municipal Enterprise, 1914–39
In the period between the wars there was one major extension of the corporation's functions, namely the provision of housing. Before the First World War activity had been largely limited to the condemnation of individual unhealthy houses, but, with the provision of subsidies from the Exchequer under Housing Acts from 1920 to 1935, more than a third of the house-building in Hull was carried out by the corporation. (fn. 434) A survey by the medical officer of health, published in 1925, suggested the scale of the problem. He estimated the post-war shortage at about 9,000: 1,475 to accommodate the increase in population since 1920, 5,000 to meet arrears of housing which had not been built during the war, 2,578 to accommodate those in unhealthy houses, and a further 350–450 to replace houses which had become slums since 1920. Down to the end of 1925 just over 2,000 houses had been built, half of them by the corporation, leaving a deficit of about 7,000. (fn. 435) Three corporation estates were established, in North Hull to the north of Endike Lane, in West Hull in the area between Willerby Road and Priory Road, and in East Hull to the east of Marfleet Lane. In 1929 a large extension to the borough boundaries included the village of Sutton and part of the parish of Anlaby. A further extension in 1935 brought the land on which the North and West Hull estates were built within the city boundaries. (fn. 436) The largest volume of municipal building took place in two spurts, in 1926–8 and in 1932. The greatest volume of private building took place between 1933 and 1939, as it did elsewhere. The East Hull estate included the work of the Sutton Trust, which had approached the corporation as early as 1910 with an offer to build houses: eventually 500 houses and flats were built by the trust in 1930–2. (fn. 437)
A major slum-clearance scheme was started in the 1920s in the area around New George Street, where rebuilding began in 1927 and was continued in the thirties. An overall survey of the slum clearance needed in the city was made in 1930; it proposed that 3,445 houses should be demolished and replaced in five years, the main populations to be rehoused being in the early Victorian working-class districts around Mill Street, the Groves, Porter Street, and Adelaide Street. Rebuilding in the area between Porter Street, Adelaide Street, and William Street began in 1938 and two ranges of five-story blocks of flats were built, but the work was not completed until after the war. (fn. 438) By 1939 about 2,800 houses had been replaced and orders for the demolition of some 300 more were in existence. The corporation had, therefore, carried out the greater part of its programme. (fn. 439) The population was rehoused in new estates around Cottingham Road, Greenwood Avenue, Inglemire Lane, and Askew Avenue. (fn. 440) The clearance of the Mill Street area made possible the one major street improvement of the period, the opening in 1931 of Ferensway from Paragon Station to the junction of Spring Bank and Beverley Road. This road had been projected as far back as 1914, and parliamentary powers had been obtained in 1924. (fn. 441) It was named after T. R. Ferens (d. 1930), a munificent benefactor to the town. With the building of Ferensway went the provision of a large car park and bus station near the centre of the town, but much of the frontage to Ferensway, which was intended to be one of the principal streets in the city centre, had not been built upon when war was declared.
After 1914 drainage and water supply, which caused so much dispute in midVictorian Hull, again began to present problems. A pumping station at Dunswell, which had been established as a private enterprise in 1874, was acquired by the corporation and closed in 1893. Plans for rebuilding it, which suggest that the supply from Anlaby was already considered to be inadequate, were put forward in 1911. They were shelved during the war but later revived, and the new station came into operation in 1931. Alternative schemes for increasing the supply at Cottingham by further borings in 1928–9 had failed. These borings, like the earlier installations at Anlaby, would have drawn on the underground supplies below the chalk wolds. During the 1930s it became clear that these supplies would soon be unable to meet the local demand. The Springhead works were then producing 14,000,000 gallons a day compared with a local consumption of 13,000,000, leaving only a narrow margin for expansion, especially if new industries were to be attracted to Hull. Various alternatives were investigated: new borings in the Driffield area of the East Riding were rejected on the ground of heavy compensation costs. An alternative was the bringing of water from the North Yorkshire Moors and in 1933 parliamentary powers were obtained to acquire Farndale, Rosedale, and Bransdale, which were bought at a cost of £2,127,000. In spite of some support for the scheme, which it was believed would have solved the city's water problems for the next 80 years, the scheme was not proceeded with. It seems probable that the corporation was deterred partly by the expense of the project, which involved the damming of the three dales and the bringing of water for a distance of over 40 miles, no doubt with heavy compensation costs. There was, moreover, some anxiety at the time at the increasing scale of Hull's public debt. (fn. 442)
Religion and Education, 1914–39
In 1914 25 Anglican parish churches containing 21,000 sittings, and served by an aggregate ministry of 51, ministered to a population of 278,000. Of twelve parishes containing over 10,000 persons each, ten had two assistant curates; St. Paul's, Sculcoates (16,000), had four; while St. Andrew's, Drypool (47,000), had, in contrast, only one. Holy Trinity had two mission rooms and a 'sailors' rest'; four other parishes each had a mission room and in Drypool parish stood the iron mission church of St. Bartholomew. (fn. 443) Another temporary church, St. John's, replaced St. Bartholomew's in 1919 and a parish of 10,000 persons was assigned to it. (fn. 444)
Between 1920 and 1939 the Anglican Church strove to keep pace with residential development around Hull. New churches were built, including two temporary buildings to serve the Newland area, one permanent church and a temporary building to serve Newington, a permanent church of St. John to replace the temporary one in Drypool, and the first of several chapels-of-ease in Marfleet, where the population in 1931 was fifteen times its size in 1911. The number of mission rooms increased also, and in 1939 there were eleven, mainly attached to the older town churches. (fn. 445) The suburban churches, in Hull as elsewhere, sought to retain their congregations less by missionary enterprise than by making the church a centre of social and recreational activity: St. John's, Newland, for example, had ten local organizations of this nature attached to it, as well as its own sports' ground and sports' clubs. (fn. 446) In 1926 the Hull Daily Mail made a stringent survey of the town's Anglican churches. The ministry which it depicted had few special features; among the highlights, however, were the predominantly youthful congregation at St. Andrew's, Drypool, the liturgical eccentricity of Christ Church, and the large attendances at St. John's, Newington, St. John's, Newland, and at the mission church of St. Columba which drew its members largely from Garden Village and was 'crammed beyond the limits of discomfort'. (fn. 447)
Between 1914 and 1939 the Protestant nonconformists similarly continued to move into the new suburbs. The Methodists alone succeeded in supplying newly-populated areas without deserting their old urban chapels and new central halls. When the United Methodists joined the Primitives and the Wesleyans in 1932 the final stage of the 20thcentury Methodist coalescence was completed, and the newly-united Methodist Church built four chapels on outlying estates in the next seven years. The efflorescence of new denominations, which had begun in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, also continued. Meanwhile the Roman Catholics established a further seven churches and missions. (fn. 448)
Among inter-denominational bodies active in this period was the Hull City Mission. It had been founded in 1903 on the initiative of D. P. Garbutt in association with representatives of the Anglicans, Wesleyan Methodists, and Friends. Its work was purely evangelistic: in 1916, for example, it visited 27,000 homes and made 761 converts, 'reclaiming' 76 drunkards and 20 fallen women. (fn. 449) The Hull and District Sunday School Union, another inter-denominational organization, after vigorous activity at the beginning of the century when it included 58 member-schools in Hull, slackened pace thereafter and had increased its numbers to only 60 by 1936. (fn. 450)
Similar problems faced the Local Education Authority as the city expanded. The war and subsequent economic depression retarded the provision of new schools generally, and it was not until the late 1920s that building was resumed. This time it was prosecuted with more vigour: new housing estates, in particular, had to be provided for. The provisions for commercial and technical education were also improved in the 1920s and 1930s, and efforts to establish a university college were at last successful. The university college was opened in 1927, owing much to the beneficence of T. R. Ferens and G. F. Grant and having substantial corporation support. Poverty, however, unrelieved by a Treasury grant, hindered its growth up to the Second World War. (fn. 451)
From 1919 onwards the Labour Party gradually increased its representation in the city council, and in 1934 won control of it. (fn. 452) In 1936 the Municipal Association was formed 'to combat socialist domination' of the council, and in 1938 it secured, with the independents, a number of seats equal to the Labour Party's. (fn. 453)
In parliamentary elections the Labour Party did not gain a seat in Hull until 1926. In the election of 1918 Coalition candidates were returned in all four constituencies. The most striking endorsement of 'coupon' candidates was in Central Hull where Sir Mark Sykes, although abroad during the campaign, defeated his Liberal opponent by over 10,000 votes. In East Hull Ferens, the Liberal M.P. for thirteen years, was defeated by C. Murchison, a coalition Unionist. In South-West Hull Maj. C. Entwistle, a Coalition Liberal, was unopposed by Asquith's Liberals, but defeated candidates representing seamen and discharged servicemen. Col. A. Lambert Ward in North-West Hull defeated a Liberal who had only 300 votes more than the Labour candidate. A Labour candidate also stood in East Hull, and a member of the I.L.P. in South-West Hull. (fn. 454)
The Coalition Party was unable to retain its hold on Central Hull in 1919, however, when Sykes's death caused a by-election and a Liberal, J. M. Kenworthy (later Lord Strabolgi), was returned. In the elections of 1922 Entwistle retained South-West Hull, although he was closely challenged by H. B. Grotrian of the Conservatives, son of the former M.P. for East Hull. East Hull itself returned L. R. Lumley (later Lord Scarbrough), a Conservative, while Lambert Ward and Kenworthy retained their seats, although Lambert Ward's majority for the Conservatives was halved in a straight fight with a Liberal candidate. The Labour Party contested South-West Hull and East Hull, and the National Liberal Party South-West Hull. (fn. 455) The situation remained unchanged in 1923, although Lambert Ward's majority over his Liberal opponent was reduced to 115 and the Labour Party's two candidates increased their shares of the polls. (fn. 456)
The victory of the Conservatives in 1924 and the declining fortunes of the Liberals were represented at Hull by Grotrian's defeat of Entwistle, and by the increase in Lambert Ward's majority and the halving of Kenworthy's. The two previous Labour candidates again increased their totals, one coming second in East Hull with more than twice the Liberals' share of the poll. The Labour Party also contested North-West Hull for the first time. (fn. 457) Its position in Hull was greatly strengthened in 1926, when Kenworthy declared himself a Socialist and in the ensuing by-election had a majority of over 4,000 over his Conservative opponent, the Liberal candidate losing his deposit. (fn. 458)
The climax of the Labour Party's emergence in Hull came in 1929. Despite the 'Safety First' strictures of the Hull Daily Mail, Labour candidates were elected in three constituencies. Kenworthy was returned with an increased majority and was joined by G. Muff and J. Arnott, who had nursed East Hull and South-West Hull from 1924 and 1922 respectively. In North-West Hull Lambert Ward's majority was reduced, and the Labour candidate came second in the poll. (fn. 459)
In 1931 there were straight fights between the Labour Party and the National Conservatives in each constituency. Conservatives were returned in every case with high majorities: Lambert Ward's was over 16,000, while R. K. Law, Bonar Law's son, contesting South-West Hull in place of Grotrian, had a majority of over 13,000. Muff and Kenworthy were defeated by Brig.-Gen. Nation and B. K. Barton. (fn. 460) The Labour Party had its revenge in 1935 when Muff and W. Windsor ousted Nation and Barton. Liberals contested East, South-West, and North-West Hull. (fn. 461)
The City after 1939 (fn. 462)
The Second World War created problems of a new and unprecedented kind. The bombing of Hull was persistent and severe: the first 'alert' was sounded in September 1939; and desultory bombing followed in June and July 1940. The most destructive raids, however, were made between March 1941 and July 1943, reaching a climax in May and July 1941. As a result of the raids about 1,200 were killed and 3,000 injured. Losses of private and public buildings were also heavy: out of 91,000 houses in the city, 5,300 were totally destroyed and a further 3,000 seriously damaged. In the centre of the town damage to shops and business property was particularly great, few buildings being left standing in King Edward Street, Jameson Street, and Prospect Street. The Royal Institution was destroyed. Industrial premises destroyed or damaged included Clarence Mills, (fn. 463) Waterloo Mills, J. H. Fenner's workshops, many of the sheds which surrounded Railway Dock, and, perhaps the most serious loss of all, Riverside Quay. (fn. 464)
The decrease in the population of the Old Town and Myton was accelerated as a result of the bombing. The number in those areas fell by nearly 30,000 between 1931 and 1951. In the whole city there has been only a slight increase in population since the war, but in Hull and the adjacent suburban area there was an increase of 12,000 between 1951 and 1961. (fn. 465)
The extensive war damage made a comprehensive replanning of the town a practicable proposition. The planners had to take into consideration the lack of open spaces in the city, the congestion on older industrial sites, the scarcity of sites for schools, and the acute housing shortage. Among problems related to traffic were obstruction caused by level crossings and agricultural drains, the lack of parking facilities, the unbalanced diffusion of traffic entering and leaving the city, and the double impediment of superfluous access-roads and ribbon development along the city's principal highways. Communications across the River Hull and through the city from the docks were over-burdened, while new residential areas were inadequately linked to places of work and were in danger of becoming detached socially as well as physically.
In 1945 the Lutyens and Abercrombie plan was published. It proposed to deal with the level crossings by widening the high-level line built by the H.B.W.R.J. in the 1880s, abandoning Paragon Station, and building a new terminus near to the existing Cannon Street goods station. It aimed to straighten, widen, and deepen the River Hull, to build a barrage at its junction with the Humber, and to move the fishing community from St. Andrew's Dock to Salt End, where there would be more space for fish-processing works close to the dock. It proposed the enlargement of the industrial areas along the Hull, and beside Hedon Road, and the creation of a virtually new zone between Hessle Road and the western docks. The moving of the main shopping area from Jameson Street to Osborne Street, a thorough-going remodelling of the main traffic routes through the city, and a new satellite town at Burton Constable completed a plan which has been described as 'a vision unfettered by legal limitations and narrow concepts of responsibility'. The costs of the main recommendations were far beyond any reasonable hope of fulfilment. (fn. 466)
There was much debate as to the form which development should take, and the city's own development plan was not produced until 1956. It was much less ambitious in scope than that of 1945, and was closely related to the industrial needs of the town. It made no proposals for moving the fishing industry, nor for the moving of the railway, nor for a satellite town. It proposed three main belts of industrial building, in much the same places as in the Abercrombie plan, and devoted a larger acreage to them. An investigation of the journey to work in Hull confirmed that for many people, employed in the docks, the fruit markets, or the fishing industry, a home near to their place of work was essential. Consequently the plan proposed to make the fullest use of the remaining open spaces within the city boundary.
The plan designated 21 residential areas in which sites were to be redeveloped and housing schemes carried out; some of these schemes had been started before the war, others had been designed to meet the pressing need for houses immediately after it. Six of the residential areas were to provide well over 100 acres of housing each, and two more over 50 acres. (fn. 467) In west Hull building in two areas to the north and south of Boothferry Road was completed in 1961 and 1965 respectively. (fn. 468) The northern part of the estate between Willerby Road and Priory Road was built between 1962 and 1966. (fn. 469) The Bricknell Avenue estate extension was nearly complete by 1965. (fn. 470) In north Hull the Orchard Park estate was begun in 1963 and had been virtually completed by 1966. (fn. 471) The development by a private contractor of an area between Beverley Road, Sutton Road, and the city boundary was begun in 1963. (fn. 472) A new scheme, to build on land in north Sutton, awaited the completion of the east Hull main drainage scheme, but work had begun on the site, south of the Wawne Drain, in 1966. (fn. 473) In east Hull house-building on the Longhill estate, another new scheme, and the Greatfield and Bilton Grange estates was virtually complete by 1959, (fn. 474) and work began on the Ings Road estate in 1963. (fn. 475) The development of residential areas notwithstanding, the shortage of land available for new houses was so acute that the city was scoured for small sites; even plots reserved for social amenities on the first-completed estates were requisitioned for houses. Amenities were nevertheless urgently needed on these estates; by 1965 they had been provided at both Longhill and Greatfield. (fn. 476)
In addition to residential areas the city's plan designated areas of comprehensive development. These were to be entirely replanned in commercial and industrial, as well as residential, aspects. Central Hull itself comprised two such areas. Two more were established in 1959; one, containing obsolete and war-damaged property, between Anlaby Road, Hessle Road, and Bean Street; the other, encumbered by badly-planned housing and brick-clay-workings, between Boothferry Road, Pickering Road, Hessle Road, and the city boundary. (fn. 477) Three 15-story blocks of flats near Convent Lane, completed in 1964, formed a stage in the rebuilding of the first of these last-mentioned areas, and in the same year work began on blocks of flats in the second. (fn. 478) In 1963 the vicinity of Buckingham Street and Nornabell Street also was declared a comprehensive development area. (fn. 479)
The city's programme of slum-clearance did not begin again until 1952 owing to the shortage of existing houses. In 1955 the corporation planned to demolish about 15,000 houses by 1970, 3,000 of them by 1960. Progress was hampered by the rate at which new houses were built. By 1964 7,000 properties had been noted for demolition, but only half had actually been demolished. (fn. 480)
The city's development plan provided for the allotment of 600 acres of industrial land between 1951 and 1971. By 1956 143 acres had been taken up, mainly by the expansion of local firms and without a fundamental change in the city's economy; and nine industrial sites had been designated, comprising in all another 129 acres. By 1964 four of these had been completely taken up, mainly those in the central parts of the city where land for industrial development was as scarce as it was valuable. In 1965 space was still available on outlying estates. (fn. 481)
One deterrent to the new industries which the corporation hoped to attract was the inadequate water supply. The water shortage which had threatened Hull in the 1930s became a reality after the war: from November 1945 to November 1946 there was a deficiency of 2,000,000 gallons a day, rising to 4,500,000 gallons from December 1952 to October 1954. At the same time the cost of the Farndale scheme would by now have been immense, and the Ministry of Health declared that it would no longer support the scheme if a cheaper alternative were available. Thus the corporation, while retaining Farndale and the surrounding land for possible future use, reverted to the River Hull, which had been abandoned as a source of supply in the 1860s. Under the new scheme, however, water was to be extracted far upstream, between Beverley and Driffield, and subjected to filtration. Its cost was estimated to be £1,700,000 for an additional supply of 8,000,000 gallons a day, compared with £3,500,000 for the same quantity from the Farndale scheme. The new works were inaugurated in 1960, having in the event cost £2,800,000. (fn. 482)
The acceleration of drainage schemes planned before the war and delayed by it was an essential concomitant of residential and industrial development in Hull. In 1950 a scheme for west Hull and Haltemprice Urban District was begun, and between 1945 and 1950 extensive works were executed in east Hull. Work in east Hull was resumed in 1964 to serve the projected housing estate north of Sutton Road.
One result of the drainage schemes was the abandonment of the obstructive agricultural drains. (fn. 483) Communications have also been improved by the opening in 1961 of the rebuilt Drypool Bridge, which was intended to relieve the pressure of cross-river traffic. (fn. 484) The flow of traffic on the outer circular road has been eased by roundabouts, such as 'Fiveways', built at the junction of Boothferry Road and Pickering Road in 1948. (fn. 485) Flyovers have been built to replace two level-crossings and several other crossings have also been eliminated. The corporation has attempted to improve parking facilities by building multi-story car-parks in Osborne Street (opened in 1964) and George Street (1966), and a one-way traffic system for the city centre was introduced in 1964. (fn. 486)
Since the war there have been two comprehensive rebuilding programmes in the centre of the city. The first is in the shopping area around Jameson Street, Prospect Street, and King Edward Street. The largest project here was Queen's House, begun in 1951, which houses shops and offices. (fn. 487) The Triangle Development Trust built a similar block in King Edward Street which was in occupation by 1954. Hammond's new store was built in 1950, Bladon's in 1956, (fn. 488) Thornton-Varley's extension in 1962, and the Co-operative Society's new store in 1964. Among new public buildings in this area are the central offices of the corporation transport committee, in Lombard Street (opened in 1961), the Central Library extension (1962), Paragon Station offices (1963), and Telephone House, in Carr Lane (1964). (fn. 489) The second programme is the creation of a new civic centre, designed by Frederick Gibberd, round Queen's Gardens. The intention is that this shall include the College of Technology (opened in 1962), the police headquarters building (1959), the custom house (1964), a new museum, an aquarium, an extension of the Guildhall, and new colleges of art and commerce. (fn. 490)
Municipal improvements in the city since the war have been accompanied by vigorous attempts to improve the standing of the port. (fn. 491) The increase of trade with America, the closing of European markets, and the vulnerability of eastern shipping routes had combined to produce a deleterious effect on Hull's position during, and immediately after, the war. Its share of United Kingdom trade, measured by the combined value of imports and exports, fell from 6.1 per cent. in 1949 to 5.4 per cent. in 1955. Indeed, Manchester replaced Hull as third port in 1947 and 1948. After the war Hull's extensive import trade suffered from national import restrictions, while increases in the volume of its exports were below the national level.
In the early fifties Hull was handling over three-quarters of the total value of oversea trade passing through the Humber ports, an increase on the 1938 total of 73 per cent. Its share of United Kingdom exports was about the same as in 1938, but its imports had decreased. It abandoned to Liverpool the position as principal port for seeds and nuts which it had held before the Second World War but improved its status in the entrepôt trade in wool at the expense of London. In 1949 coal exports from Hull exceeded their tonnage of 1938 although national coal exports were 60 per cent. below the 1938 level. Hull had benefited from its proximity to the South Yorkshire and East Midland coalfields, however, and while a growing proportion of coal exports went to Denmark much of the coal and coke was shipped in coastal vessels to power-stations. Hull had, however, suffered a recession in the grain trade and in the early fifties experienced the largest decline in trade shares of any of the principal British grain ports. This was largely due to lower milling capacity at the port, several of the largest flour mills having been destroyed or damaged during the war.
The decline in the grain trade was also partly due to the inadequacy of facilities for handling corn at the port, but the trade in foodstuffs had continued in spite of delays in making good the wartime destruction of Riverside Quay and delays in repairing the damage. By the mid-fifties the port had a bad reputation for general congestion and for delays in handling ships of deep draught. (fn. 492) By 1959, however, the quay was again operational and additional facilities were provided on the south side of Albert Dock. (fn. 493) By 1963 schemes for the modernization and extension of facilities at King George and Alexandra Docks had been completed and two new oil jetties built at Salt End. (fn. 494) These improvements, however, had an adverse effect on port charges. Under the terms of the Transport Act of 1947 the British Transport Commission produced new schedules of charges in 1958 and 1961. (fn. 495) Although in the protracted negotiations which preceded these Hull was able to secure its 'free overside', (fn. 496) the charges were increased by 7½ per cent. on the second occasion as a result of the commission's expenditure on Riverside Quay. Further port improvement schemes were in progress in 1966, and in the same year a 'roll-on, roll-off' terminal for freight and passengers was opened at King George Dock. (fn. 497)
In 1962 the Rochdale Report recommended the complete amalgamation of all port authorities on the Humber into a single body which would supervise conservancy and pilotage. It supported proposals to close the inner town docks in Hull, and suggested that any extension of docks should take place downstream to the east of the Salt End jetties, where deep-water facilities could best be provided, and whence road communications could avoid the city centre. (fn. 498)
The port was the scene of significant trade-union disputes in the fifties and sixties. In 1954 the National Association of Stevedores and Dockers—the Blue Union, a body which had seceded from the T. & G.W.U.—made its first attempt to recruit members in the provinces in Hull. This caused dissension in the port which culminated the following year in a strike. Subsequent disputes between the two unions led, in the view of the Devlin Report, to 'apathy about trade unionism', and the report estimated that onethird of the dock labour force in Hull was unaffiliated to either union. The Devlin inquiry also found that little had been done to accelerate decasualization. In 1961 only 35 per cent. of the men were engaged on weekly terms. Negotiations to extend this number were in progress in 1965 but they were protracted by the dispute between the two dockers' unions. (fn. 499)
Churches and schools suffered considerable damage during the war. Ten Anglican churches were either damaged or destroyed by bombing, and nonconformists, Roman Catholics, and Jews all had losses. Each denomination has endeavoured to replace its lost buildings, intending that the new churches should serve primarily the new residential areas of the city. The Church of England, for example, has consecrated twelve new churches. (fn. 500) As with churches, many new schools followed the shifting population to developing estates and suburban areas. The erection of primary, secondary, and technical schools to replace those lost in the war was an essential part of the city's development plan. The two training colleges grew in size and numbers, notably after 1959. In 1945 the university college was made eligible for a Treasury grant, and spread rapidly over the site acquired for it before the war; it received its university charter in 1954. (fn. 501)
In the local elections of 1945 the Labour Party shook off the challenge of the Municipal Association Group and secured 50 of the 84 seats. (fn. 502) Its domination of the council has not been seriously threatened in subsequent years. From 1955 onwards Liberal Party candidates intervened, gaining seats at the expense of the M.A.G. (fn. 503) In 1960 Conservative candidates stood separately from the M.A.G. and by 1966 had 23 seats, while the Labour Party had 59 and the Liberals two. (fn. 504)
In the parliamentary election of 1945 the Labour Party was returned in each constituency. Lambert Ward was at last defeated, succumbing to R. W. Mackay; Law, who had been Minister of Education in the 'caretaker' government, was defeated by S. H. Smith; M. Hewitson was successful in Central Hull, and E. H. Pursey had a majority of 12,000 in East Hull. (fn. 505) In 1948 the constituencies were altered, becoming East, Central, and North Hull, and Hull Haltemprice. (fn. 506) In 1950 Hewitson and Pursey retained their seats. The Conservatives, however, had victories in Hull Haltemprice, where Law was returned, and in North Hull with W. R. A. Hudson. The situation was unchanged in 1951. (fn. 507)
There was yet another alteration of the parliamentary constituencies in 1955. (fn. 508) The Central Hull division was extinguished, the East and North Hull divisions were enlarged, and a new division, West Hull, was created. In the election of that year Pursey and Hudson were returned to their old constituencies, while Hewitson was elected in West Hull. In 1959 the Conservative Party was represented in North Hull by J. M. Coulson; otherwise the situation was unchanged. (fn. 509) In 1964 the Labour Party was returned in all three constituencies. Pursey's majority in East Hull increased; while the new Labour candidate in West Hull, J. Johnson, trebled his predecessor's last majority. North Hull, displaying the unpredictable nature which had been attributed to it since 1959, returned H. Solomons. (fn. 510)
On the death of Solomons in 1965 North Hull's 'marginal' character was again the subject of publicity since a Conservative victory in the ensuing by-election, held in January 1966, would have reduced the Labour Government's majority to one. Furthermore a radical minority group, protesting against the war in Vietnam, intervened in the election, threatening to divide the Labour Party's adherents. The party was successful notwithstanding, and K. McNamara was elected with a majority of over 5,000, which he increased in the general election held in the following March. The other Labour Party candidates also retained their seats with increased majorities. (fn. 511)