Monday 20 November 2023

Digitising the University of Hull’s history: A journey through time at Hull University Archives.

In this blog post, I will take you on a journey through my transformative internship experience at Hull University Archives. Stepping into the hallowed halls of the archives, I was transported back in time, surrounded by unique records, rare books and the scent of old paper. During my internship, I had the unique opportunity to contribute to the preservation of my alma mater's history by digitizing historical records dating back to the university's inception in 1927. Through this process, I gained a deeper appreciation for the importance of preserving historical records for future generations. The task at hand was both fascinating and daunting to digitize historical records catalogues spanning nearly a century.  I invite you to join me on this captivating adventure through the annals of the University of Hull’s history as we explore the impact of digitizing historical record catalogues and the role they play in preserving the legacy of this esteemed institution.

Programme recording first graduations at University College Hull, held 11 Feb 1950 

The Digitisation Process

During the digitisation process, I was responsible for creating high-resolution images of a series of 61 programs. To achieve this, I meticulously scanned each page of the catalogues and transformed them into high-quality image files, this step required precision ensuring that no details were left behind. The next step was to convert these images into both PDF and JPEG formats, making them easily accessible for research, inquiries, and outreach purposes. All the individual PDFs were then merged into a single access PDF, enabling future researchers to navigate the entire journey of the university with ease. However, the work did not stop there. Using Excel, I organised a repository of information by meticulously entering data related to scanned issues into spreadsheets. Each entry documented the who, what, when, and where of every program. This information will be used to enhance online catalogue descriptions so that researchers can more easily discover these records. The meticulous digitisation process was not just about converting physical records into digital files but about preserving the history and making it accessible to a broader audience. The stories hidden within those aged pages will continue to inspire and educate generations to come.

Me scanning one of the congregation programmes

Overview of the records

The records I was asked to work on are historical congregation programs created to record the conferment of degrees since 1949, chronicling various events and activities associated with the university. These records contain a wealth of information, including comprehensive event details, such as dates, times, and locations of graduations, as well as the order of proceedings and ceremonial aspects of events. They also contain the names of graduates, their degrees, and degree classifications, as well as notable achievements of honorary degree recipients, students, and faculty members. While the older programmes do not have photographs, there is a separate collection of photographs of graduates, faculty, and ceremonies, offering a visual record of the university's history. The newer catalogues contain the same basic information but offer wider coverage, including statements from the Chancellor, the university's coat of arms, and biographies and photographs of honorary graduates.

The records offer a wealth of information and insights waiting to be uncovered. Researchers can use these programs to track the university's evolution over time and examine changes in ceremony formats, academic trends, and notable events. For individuals researching their family history, these programs can provide information about relatives who graduated from the university, including their names and graduation dates. Additionally, the programs can serve as educational resources and be integrated into educational materials to provide students with a tangible connection to historical events and figures.

Example of a programme, showing my own graduation in July 2023!

Overview of the ceremonies

Various locations have been utilised for the ceremonies over the years, with Hull City Hall being the most commonly used venue. This is due to its capacity and historical significance, making it perfect for larger ceremonies. On the other hand, Middleton Hall is reserved for smaller ceremonies or those that are closely associated with the university community. Additionally, some ceremonies are held at Assembly Hall the University and Lincoln Cathedral.

Photographs showing the first graduation ceremony, held 11 Feb 1950

The ceremonies at the University of Hull are very structured and typically begin with a procession of university officials, faculty members, and sometimes special guests. This procession marks the formal beginning of the event. After that, the Welcome Address is usually delivered, which sets the tone for the ceremony and expresses gratitude to attendees. Graduates are then presented with their degree certificates, symbolizing their academic achievements. Degree certificates are typically presented by university officials, such as the Vice-Chancellor, Dean of the Faculty, or other university dignitaries. In some cases, special guests or honorary degree recipients may also have the honor of presenting certificates. The ceremonies may also feature keynote speeches from notable individuals, which can provide inspiration and insight for graduates and attendees. Music often accompanies ceremonies, adding to the ambiance and creating memorable moments. The ceremony concludes with a recessional, where participants exit in a formal procession, marking the end of the event.

Page showing the order of proceedings at the first ever graduation ceremony held as the University of Hull, 1955


Chancellors of Universities often serve as ceremonial heads and are typically prominent figures in academia, politics, or the community. It's interesting to note that chancellors can change over time, and their terms are usually limited. At the University of Hull, the lineage of chancellors starts with Lord Middleton in 1955, who marked the inception of a tradition that continues to this day. This was followed by Lord Cohen of Birkenhead in 1970, whose unique perspective coincided with a period of growth and change for the university. Lord Wilberforce assumed the position of Chancellor in 1978, and his service aligns with an era of innovation and development. Lord Armstrong's presence and contributions in 1994 left an enduring impact on the institution. Baroness Bottomley became the first female Chancellor in 2005, adding a new dimension to the university's history with her leadership and dedication. Baroness Bottomley was a trailblaser, she was a member of parliament in the House of Commons then became a member of House of Lords. Alan Johnson, the current chancellor, reflects the university's commitment to excellence and its link to the community, having previously served as a member of parliament for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle. The line of chancellors at the University of Hull is truly impressive, representing a rich tapestry of academic leadership, community involvement, and visionary thinking. Each chancellor has left a lasting impact on the institution, contributing to its growth and shaping its journey through time. When we explore the historical programs and records of the university, we can see the lasting impact of each chancellor's contribution. They have conducted ceremonies, conferred degrees, and added their unique touch to the academic and cultural traditions of the University of Hull. Their contributions are truly remarkable and continue to be celebrated, serving as a testament to the enduring connection between the past and the present at this venerable institution.

Programme recording the installation of Lord Middleton as the first Chancellor of the University of Hull, 1955

The programme showcases the various honorary graduands and provides relevant information about them. By highlighting the achievements of these individuals, the university acknowledges and celebrates their exceptional contributions to different fields. It is a tradition that has been carried forward for years, making it an integral part of the university. The stories of these honorary graduands serve as a reminder of the power of human ingenuity and the pursuit of knowledge. I found the profiles of Katherine Bellingham and Dr Colin Michael Foale CBE particularly interesting from the earlier programmes. These two were conferred with honorary Doctor of Science degrees and they serve as an ongoing source of inspiration for students and the broader academic community. They have achieved remarkable success and recognition in their respective fields, making them exceptional role models for future generations. Their stories inspire others to explore the possibilities of science and space exploration, and encourage them to pursue their dreams with dedication and passion.

I came across the inspiring story of Katherine Bellingham while reviewing our historical programs. Kate Bellingham is a trailblazer in the field of science with an impressive background and diverse accomplishments. Her life journey is a testament to the power of hard work, learning, and embracing different roles. Kate's career has been varied and multifaceted, including work as a computer programmer, broadcast engineer, IV and radio presenter, math teacher, and National Careers Coordinator for STEM. Currently, she serves as the Director of STEM Innovation for the Gazelle Colleges Group, where she contributes significantly to the promotion of STEM education. Kate is a prime example of lifelong learning, as evidenced by her pursuit of an MSc in Electronic Communication Systems and Grade 8 Singing qualification in 2012. Apart from her professional life, Kate is an active member of her local community, participating in amateur theatre, choirs, and opera groups. Her passion for the arts and commitment to contributing to local cultural endeavors is admirable. Kate Bellingham's story is a source of inspiration, showcasing the remarkable potential of individuals to excel in diverse fields, promote STEM education, engage with the community, and continue learning throughout life.

Extract from Summer 2014 programme showing a short biography of Kate Bellingham

Dr. Mike Foale is a British-American an astrophysicist and former NASA astronaut who has made significant contributions to space exploration and STEM education. He holds a Ph.D. in laboratory astrophysics from Queens College, Cambridge, and has an impressive space career, having been a veteran of six space shuttle missions and a Soyuz mission. Dr. Foale commanded the International Space Station (ISS) and holds the distinction of being the first Briton to perform a spacewalk. During this mission, he replaced vital components required to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. He also established a new cumulative time-in-space record for a UK citizen, spending 374 days, 11 hours, and 19 minutes in space. After retiring from NASA in 2013, Dr. Foale was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in recognition of his significant and enduring contributions to space exploration. Dr. Foale's commitment to supporting STEM education is evident through his engagement with young people, sharing his experiences as a scientist in space to inspire the next generation of scientists and astronauts. The journey of Dr. Mike Foale serves as a testament to human achievement and the limitless possibilities of space exploration. His exceptional contributions to space, along with his dedication to STEM education, make him an inspiring figure and a valuable role model for aspiring scientists and explorers.

Extract from Winter 2019 graduation programme showing a short biography of Mike Foale

According to our records, the first honorary graduands were in 1956 and included Brian Westerdale Downs, who made an honorary Doctor of Letters, Harold Ivens Loten, who was awarded a Doctorate of Law, and S. Meggitt, who was conferred with a Master of Arts.


Our exploration through the historical programs of the University of Hull has been an enthralling journey into a rich and storied past. We've celebrated excellence, innovation, and inspiration, from the celebrated Chancellors who have graced the university's ceremonies to the remarkable individuals recognized as honorary graduands. These pages connect us with a legacy that is ever-evolving yet firmly anchored in the enduring values of education and exploration, bridging time to remind us of the importance of learning from the past. As we reflect on the history and traditions captured in these programs, we celebrate the legacy of the University of Hull, an institution that continues to shape the minds of future leaders and explorers. These programs serve as a bridge between the past, present, and future, reminding us of the enduring values of education, exploration, and the pursuit of knowledge.

My internship at Hull University Archives was more than just a job. It was a journey of rediscovery that deepened my connection to the university and its rich history. My task was not only to digitize these historical programs but also to make their content more accessible and discoverable to researchers. I approached this task with enthusiasm, using a range of techniques and tools to ensure that each catalogue entry became a treasure trove of historical information. 

This internship taught me the importance of independent work and quick problem-solving, and it was a profound learning experience that honed my skills in the use of professional digitization equipment and software. At Hull History Centre, I discovered more than just an institution; I found a welcoming home and a family. The people here define the essence of this institution, with their warmth and kindness creating an environment where work flourishes. The staff here go above and beyond their administrative duties, their kindness knows no bounds, and their passion for preserving and sharing the past is infectious.

Montaha Abbas (Digitisation and Outreach Intern, 2023)

Tuesday 31 October 2023

The mystery surrounding the haunting of No. 18 Argyle Terrace

A regular enquiry we receive at the Hull History Centre is that concerning spooky goings on. For most it tends to relate a house or property. Frequent questions include: what was on the site prior? Did someone live/die there?

Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, people have for centuries reported strange occurrences, many of which continue to intrigue amateur ghost hunters, paranormal investigators, psychologists, parapsychologists, and those in forensic psychology to this day.

Hull has its share of alleged supernatural accounts and reputed hauntings across the city. In this blog we revisit the reported haunting of No. 18 Argyle Terrace, Argyle Street and shed light on this alleged haunting.

The haunting  

In October 1969, the Hull Daily Mail ran a front-page story in which it reported a mother and her six children lived in terror, claiming a ghost of an old women roamed their terraced house. The house was No.18 Argyle Terrace, Argyle Street.

Argyle Terrace, 17 Apr 1973 
[Ref: C THD/3/221/17]

It was claimed the ghost caused a sudden drop in temperature, pulled the children, bruised a new-born baby, and touched the neighbours. The ghostly occurrences appeared to centre around the 13-year-old daughter, who had seen the ghost - an old woman - and even recognised her.

Trouble began shortly before the Hull Daily Mail broke the story. Initially, banging came from upstairs of the property. The banging, put down to children was soon dispelled when the children quickly came downstairs terrified, claiming they’d seen an old woman. Over the following days banging and strange and noises continued. A medium visited the property, but this was said to have only made things worse. The family described it like being followed, with a sudden drop in temperature.

A neighbour in nearby Wycliffe Grove who had spent time with the family at the property described the coldness and a presence. On one occasion a neighbour felt something move through him.


The simplest explanation is there was no haunting. The children were playing a prank which simply got out of hand. It is not the first time this type of thing has happened. The famous Enfield haunting is believed to have been a hoax. The explanation for such a hoax at Argyle Terrace is the family were after a new home and the whole haunting was made up to facilitate a move. Interestingly, the children’s father claimed not to have witnessed or sensed anything.

Another theory to the alleged haunting was its location. Argyle Street was once home to the Old Hull Borough Asylum. Argyle Street originally called Asylum Lane, was home to the Old Borough Asylum. The asylum however was located further north, occupying the space somewhere between what is now Wyndam Street and the western tip of Londesborough Street, rather than the area of Argyle Terrace or indeed any of the adjoining terraces.

The closest to an actual explanation put forward was shortly after the story broke by an unnamed woman claiming that as a young child, aged 14, she cleaned for an old lady at No. 18 Argyle Terrace, fifty years earlier. She recalled the lady who she named as Mrs Sellers, wore a shawl. A shawl was described by the thirteen-year-old daughter who said she’d seen the old lady in a chair. The letter went on claiming Mrs. Sellers husband died shortly after their marriage. The person who sent the letter did not name themselves. The only thing known about the letter is that it was posted in Hull.

Unidentified court, New George Street c.1890s-c1930. Note the two ladies wearing shawls which was not usual for the period
[Ref: L THP/1590]

This information was checked after the Mail reported it. Directories for 18 Argyle Terrace did not record a Sellers listed at 18 Argyle Terrace. Interestingly, a George and Charlotte Sellers were recorded living in the next terrace, Wycliffe Grove, at number 8. This George and Charlotte married in 1907. At the time of marriage both were in the later years of their lives. At the time the young girl said she had been cleaning, Charlotte Sellers would have been aged sixty.

There are however a couple of discrepancies. Firstly, the address. This Charlotte Sellers did not live at 18 Argyle Terrace. The writer also described Mrs. Sellers as about 80, when in fact she was around 60. And thirdly, the letter claimed Mrs. Sellers lost her husband just after their married, but in fact he died thirteen years after their marriage. 

This said, we must remember the reputed letter writer was aged fourteen at the time they claimed they worked for Mrs. Sellers. An individual aged sixty may look aged eighty to younger eyes. And although Mrs. Sellers lost her husband 13 years after her marriage, the young girl may have been told her husband died recently which is where the confusion lies.

Another interesting comparison to the Charlotte Sellers of Wyncliffe Grove is that she did live alone after her husband’s death. The 1911 census reveals that George and Charlotte Sellers had no children. Using the register of electors, no other individual was listed living at 8 Wycliffe Grove. The 1939 register reveals Charlotte Sellers living alone at 8 Wycliffe Grove.

Nos. 5, 6, 7 & 8 Wyncliffe Grove, 17 Apr 1973
[Ref: C THD/3/221/21]

Charlotte died on 24 January 1945 aged eighty-six. Her death notice simply noted, ‘loving wife of the late George’. Later that year the Hull Daily Mail published a notice from Gosschalk and Austin, Solicitor’s, asking for persons to come forward who have a claim to the estate of Charlotte Sellers, late of 8 Wycliffe Grove, further suggesting that Charlotte Sellers had no family, further corroborating the letter which recalled Mrs. Sellers as having no family.

If the letter is indeed recalling Charlotte Sellers of 8 Wycliffe Grove, though well intended, it is difficult to see how it has a link to the alleged haunting at 18 Argyle Terrace. The writer may have simply got confused. Easily done when looking back over 50 years through a child’s 14-year memory. And while the description of Mrs. Sellers wearing a shawl appears to match, shawls were common attire for women at the time. As for the 13-year-old daughter who was said to have recognised the women, Charlotte Sellers died in 1945, therefore the daughter could not have known her.

Sadly, the History Centre records cannot prove whether 18 Argyle Terrace was indeed haunted. The existence of ghosts or spirits has not been scientifically proven. All we can do is look at the evidence and conclude that the letter explaining the reputed haunting of 18 Argyle Terrace by a Mrs. Sellers cannot be true.

In the early 1970s Argyle Terrace and those adjoining were demolished by the Corporation. The site is now the main carpark by Argyle Street for the Hull Royal Infirmary.

Our holdings

Remember the History Centre has books on Hull, East Riding, and some wider Yorkshire hauntings. You can search our information index under ‘Ghosts’ to look at other local reported and reputed hauntings. You can uncover the history of your house, or the land its sits on. The History Centre holds maps for Hull. There is free access to FindMyPast and Ancestry. Trade directories are available as too are the registers of electors for Hull. We also have original house plans for properties in Hull.

Neil Chadwick


Wednesday 11 October 2023

Introducing the University Records Project

Ever wanted to know more about the history of the University of Hull? Well that’s the focus of a new cataloguing project here at Hull History Centre. 

This is the first post in a project blog series which will track Hull University Archives’ epic quest to get ready for the University’s centenary in 2027. That gives us three and a half years, which should be enough, right… (mildly panicked tone)?!

We’re aiming for at least one post a month and we hope you’ll follow our progress. We’ve also got a project webpage where we’ll be posting news and lists of recently catalogued collections as they are released or updated.

Screenshot of project webpage

Project webpage

The task at hand…

We’ve known the centenary was coming for some time now and we knew that the University would want to celebrate. Last year, things seemed to pick up on campus – a few appointments were made to support centenary efforts within the wider university, and Hull University Archives started to receive initial enquiries about what we hold that could be useful.

Whilst we know roughly what University records we have (photographic collection, VC’s files, annual reports, minutes of council, senate and committees, etc.), these collections are largely uncatalogued. Separate to these key records, we have lots of small collections documenting individual departments, societies and personalities associated with the University. In some cases, box lists exist and can provide a rough overview of what is in these collections, but for the most part we face the exciting challenge of uncovering the details! With this in mind, we need to undertake some major cataloguing work if we are going to be able to respond to requests from elsewhere in the University in the run up to 2027.

Photograph showing Principal Morgan, Thomas Ferens, H.R.H. Prince George (later Duke of Kent), and Lord Mayor Benno Pearlman at the official opening of the University College of Hull, 10 Oct 1929

How we’ve ended up here…

Historically, the University Archives focused on cataloguing and making available our large deposited collections, as these are widely used by academics and other researchers, from Hull and all over the world. This meant that our own institutional records were not always the top priority. But with the centenary focusing everyone's minds, we decided that now was the time to tackle our own history.

So, where to start…

In July 2023 we began the mammoth task of tackling the backlog of uncatalogued records that have been created by the University of Hull since its foundation in 1927. We’re not going to lie, this is a daunting task that fills us with a not insignificant amount of dread!

Instead of panicking and ignoring the problem, we decided to tackle it head on. The first step was to do some digging and bring together everything we had that might help us. We started by searching out any and all box lists, old half-finished catalogues, collections management spreadsheets, etc. This was largely a desk-based exercise. We created new folders and sorted everything into one main storage location. 

Armed with this information, we created a master collections management spreadsheet. We included columns to record information about each collection, information such as physical location, whether any box lists exist, accession numbers (records of when material came into the archives), previously assigned reference numbers, extent of material in linear meters, rough contents (where known), and whether any descriptive records have already been created in our collections management database.

Our new master collections management spreadsheet, ready to go!

As you can see, there are a lot of blanks that need to be filled. Taking the time to do this work early on will make future stages of the project much easier.

Next, we needed to create an intellectual framework (known as a cataloguing schema) into which we could sort the different records we hold. Doing this gives structure to large collections and helps researchers make sense of them.

What archival theory tells us… 

The usual approach, according to archival theory, is to take an organisational structure chart and replicate this using a hierarchical system of reference numbers. You can then slot in individual series of records according to the area under which they were created. For example:

DBX – Records of Business X 

DBX/1 – Records of CEO and Board

DBX/1/1 – Governance Documents

DBX/1/2 – Correspondence Files

DBX/1/3 – Minutes

DBX/2 – Records of Human Resources

DBX/2/1 – Personnel Files

DBX/2/2 – Policies and Guidance

DBX/3 – Records of Marketing

DBX/3/1 – Publicity Material

DBX/3/2 – Subject Files

When we did our desk-based survey, we discovered that past attempts had been made to create a cataloguing schema for existing University material but that these had all ended up discarded and unfinished. It’s a complex task to devise a framework that accurately reflects the structure of an organisation like a university, which can evolve over time. A quick, hypothetical example:

Research institute X is opened as a self-governing entity. The University then changes its funding model and the institute is subsumed into a department. Its core functions continue but it is now overseen by the department’s governance structure. The records created to record the institute’s activities span a period covering both the institute and the departmental periods. Where do you situate this single series of records to most accurately reflect organisational structure – an ‘institutes’ series or a ‘academic departments’ series? Would you split it? Not if you want to retain the archival integrity of the series.

Our approach…

We revisited these past attempts and tried to puzzle it all out. After much headbanging, we decided to do away with complex organisational charts and half-workable schemas, opting for a slightly off-the-wall solution: we wouldn’t bother creating a structure at all! Instead, we decided to use a running sequence of reference numbers, cataloguing the different collections one after the other and in no particular order.

‘Woah’, we hear you say, ‘that’s madness!’. Don’t worry, we have an alternative plan to bring it all together so that researchers have a hope of understanding what records the University has created. We plan to clearly outline the administrative and functional context of each set of records in the usual collection description that sits at the beginning of an archive catalogue. 

Additionally, we are developing a research guide, to be hosted on the website, that will include a URL back to the guide from each individual collection catalogue uploaded to our online catalogue. The guide will provide a more traditional overview of the University and will list individual collections under pages dedicated to functional themes. By doing this, we can mention the same collection under multiple thematic headings, thus solving our headscratcher above and ensuring that researchers can find all relevant records without us tampering with the archival integrity of individual collections.

Future proofing…

Another benefit to this approach is that it allows for future expansion of the collections. With a running sequence we can simply keep adding new collection references and we can slot new collections into the accompanying research guide. 

Fellow archivist colleagues may call us mavericks but we think we now have a workable approach! 

So, that was our summer. We’ve laid the groundwork and now we can get cracking….

Claire Weatherall, Archivist (Hull University Archives)

Tuesday 5 September 2023

Hull in the 1920s

To coincide with the release of the 1921 census here at the History Centre, we thought we’d take the opportunity to showcase some of our holdings relating to the 1920s, which was a period of great change in the social and political landscape of Hull as well as the rest of the country. 

Beginning of the decade

As the new decade ushered in, experiences of the Great War left a lasting impact across the whole of British Society. Some were too young to remember the Great War, whilst others simply wanted to escape the horrors of the conflict. As a result, many felt compelled to enjoy life to the full. 

Recreation and leisure

Although the origins of recreation and leisure have their roots in the 19th century for the working class, these activities gathered pace in the 1920s. In Hull cinemas began to pop up or be licensed, with theatres altered to accommodate the golden age of cinema. The Savoy on the corner of Holderness Road and Morrill Street opened in 1923. The Cecil, Carlton, Waterloo and Londesborough theatres became licensed theatres during the decade, while the Tivoli on Paragon Street became a cinema in 1929.

Hull born Dorothy Mackaill began her acting career from 1920. Born in Sculcoates in 1903, Dorothy Mackaill found her fame during the silent film era and featured in almost 50 films during the 1920s.

Dorothy Mackaill
[Ref: Lp.920 MACK/1]

Seaside getaways had been popular since the 17th century, though this was exclusively for the well to do, usually prescribed by a doctor or physician to take in the sea air, spars and cold waters of places like Scarborough and later Brighton.

In the 1920s commercial flights were in operation, yet for most families, particular the working classes, a trip to the seaside would have been their family holiday.  For those from Hull, Withernsea, Hornsea, Bridlington, Filey or perhaps Scarborough would have been the most common resorts visited.

Scarborough's South Bay from Smith's photograph album
[Ref: L.9.54/8]
1926 General Strike

The decade wasn’t without its challenges. Heavy domestic use of coal during the war had depleted Britain’s stocks, and the resulting cost of living had a profound affect. The 1926 Dock Strike in Hull affected around 8,000 of Hull’s dock workers. Further difficult economic conditions, particularly wage reductions led to the General Strike of 1926. Hull, like elsewhere around the country was affected. Heavy industry and transport went on strike, which led to many walking or community by bike. Trains ground to a halt. Cargo in the docks was affected, particularly fruit. While some managed to be transported via road, the bult remained at Hull docks to rot.

Social and political change    

The decade is known as the ‘roaring twenties’, a time of nightclubs, and jazz clubs when the Charleston and Lindy Hop developed. However, the 1920s were also a decade of huge social and political change.  

Families tended to be smaller compared to their Victorian counterparts, on average three to four children.

Edwardian family outside their property in Garden Village
[Ref: L RH/1/137]

Education was free and compulsory to those aged 5, regardless of social status. However, most left school aged 14. 

The Workers’ Education Association had been founded in 1903 with the aim of extending education to workers. The Hull branch was established in 1926. Such organisations allowed workers to attend classes, which prior to this, had not been possible.

The final years of the 1920s saw voting rights for women extended to those aged 21 and over, putting them on a level par with their male counterparts. It would however be another 40 years before the 1969 Representation of People Act reduced the voting age to 18 for both men and women.

For many women the war had provided employment in the factories giving them a wage, and with-it independence. Women became more confident and empowered, affording them a greater degree of freedom. New fashions developed. Hair and dresses were shorter. For women smoking became fashionable, as too did drinking. You could say ‘Girl Power’ had arrived long before the Spice Girls.

The 1920s saw comics becoming available to children. Hull’s most famous comic illustrator, Ern Shaw created several comic characters during his early career in the 1920s. These were the predecessors to his most famous comic characters, The Dingbats from the 1940s.  


1920 - Several housing projects began during the decade, including along Holderness Road, the continuation of Lorraine Street and Preston Road

1921 - Hull’s population was 295,000

1923 – The first 200 properties completed on Preston Road 

1924 - First Hull Dock Strike

1925 – the Hull branch of The Cyclists’ Touring Club founded and Prime Minster Lloyd George visits Hull

1926 – Hull branch of the Workers’ Educational Association founded and second Hull Dock Strike

1927 – The Ferens Art Gallery opens, replacing St. John’s Church that stood on the site previously

1928 – Voting extended to all women aged 21 and over

1931 -  Hull’s population surpassed 309,000, its largest population to date

 Neil Chadwick, Librarian/Archivist