Trail: Hull - See The City

Explore the centre of Kingston upon Hull as it was in the early 20th century, with our archive images to show you ‘what was here’!

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In The Name Of ‘Art’ That Is Sacred

Here, the modern view has been dominated by Prince’s Quay Shopping Centre since the early 1990s, but back in 1900, when this archive image was taken, it was Prince’s Dock, where many fishing trawlers were fitted out by C D Holmes Ltd.  Sitting just behind the dock is the Church of St John The Evangelist, which opened in 1793 as a chapel of ease to Holy Trinity (now Hull Minster).  By 1917, the church had fallen into disuse and was bought by Sir Thomas Ferens, who donated money for the church to be demolished and an art gallery constructed in its place (present day Ferens Art Gallery).

That’s the end of the trail!  Why not visit Hull Central Library to find out more about the city?  Re-trace steps back to Prince’s Quay Shopping Centre, and cross into Victoria Square.  Go straight on down King Edward Street and on into Prospect Street.  Turn right down Albion Street, and Hull Central Library is just opposite.

A Bridge In Time

For anyone unfamiliar with the city’s past, the name of this area (Monument Bridge) may sound a little odd and ill-fitting.  One look at the archive image of 1910 however, and all becomes clear!  It was once the site of the Wilberforce Monument, the memorial to William Wilberforce MP (24th August 1759-29th July 1833), known for leading the movement to abolish the slave trade.  This rather striking column is now a feature in front of Hull College at the far end of Queen’s Gardens.

George Street’s ‘Marvell-ous’ Metaphysic

Looking down George Street in this archive image of 1907, the statue in the middle of the road is of Andrew Marvell (31st March 1621-16th August 1678), a politician, satirist, and poet of the metaphysical genre; a style known for its spoken verse.  Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, he went on to serve as an MP at various times between 1659 and 1678, writing numerous poems or ‘conceits’, many about topical satire or religious themes.  His statue now stands in Trinity Square, near Hull Minster and Trinity House, for which he once served as a London agent.

The ‘Eyes’ Have It

Formerly part of the Dock Company’s estate north of Queen’s Dock (modern-day Queen’s Gardens), you may be able to spot a couple of similarities between past & present here on Savile Street.  The most notable is the presence of an opticians practice both nowadays and in our archive image from 1908 (in which there are two). Also, despite the demolition of the building with a clock on its corner, the architects of the present day building have introduced a modern clock face into the design, ensuring this feature is in some way preserved, yet modernised.

The Royal ‘Wee’

In viewing the great statue of Queen Victoria in our archive photograph at the turn of the 20th century, you can see that it has since been raised to a position where it now presides over a public toilet facility (some may say that’s a strange thing to do to a former monarch!).  Unmistakeably, the tower of the Prudential Building sits behind.  Since it was destroyed in a May 1941 air raid during the Second World War, it has been a great loss to the panorama of Queen Victoria Square which, in spite of this, retains much of its architectural beauty.

Marsh Drive

Before it became known as ‘Kingstown upon the River Hull’ (now ‘Kingston upon Hull’) by Royal Charter in 1293, the settlement here was called ‘Wyke’ and the roads were frequently flooded by the River Humber, making it difficult and dangerous to access. The road on which you stand is Carr Lane (the word ‘Carr’ itself means marsh) and is a small clue to the once boggy terrain of centuries before.  By 1902, you can see from this archive image that it went on to become a bustling thoroughfare with carts and trams in procession along the street.  Nowadays of course, this lane is dominated by a very different kind of ‘car’, and the trams have long since disappeared as Hull was the first city to remove its tramways, in 1945 after the Second World War.

Moving With The Times

Back in 1907 on King Edward Street with this archive image, a lot has changed in this view.  The tram that ran through the street has given way to pedestrianisation, the Prudential Building (tower above statue) was lost in a Second World War bombing raid of May 1941, and both the King Edward statue (foreground) and William Wilberforce monument (column in background) have since been moved.  Even the clock on the corner with Jameson Street has gone which, if accurate at the time the picture was taken, tells us we’re viewing the street as it was at 12:20pm in 1907.  Lunchtime!

Paint In The Town

(Our trail begins near the Central Library, on Prospect Street (opposite the Prospect Shopping Centre) and just outside ‘Home Bargains’.  Use ‘View on map’ from the trail’s homepage to reach point ‘1’ and the start of the trail).

Facing north, back in the direction of the Central Library, you can’t fail to notice how this street has been completely redeveloped.  The most interesting difference when viewing this archive image from 1905 is the large industrial chimney in the distance.  This was the premises of Blundell, Spence & Co., paint manufacturer, founded in 1817 and situated on the corner of Beverley Road and Spring Bank.  Unsurprisingly, it is now known as Blundell’s Corner and is home to the offices of the Hull Daily Mail. Despite what you may think, those who remember the factory say it didn’t actually smell that much of paint and varnish around here at the time!