Monday, 4 November 2019

Unlocking the Treasures Project

As it is America’s Thanksgiving celebrations this month, I thought it would be fitting to feature this American Thanksgiving Dinner programme from 1922, which is part of the Local Studies Collection.

Programme for a American Thanksgiving dinner held by the Anglo-American Society, Hull Branch, 1922 [L.369.2]

American Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday of November, is an annual national holiday celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year. It commemorates a harvest feast shared in 1621 by the English colonists of Plymouth (known as the Pilgrims) and the Wampanoag people. The occasion has been celebrated nationally in the USA since 1789, when a proclamation was issued by George Washington.

The Anglo-American Society is the English counterpart of an organisation in the USA known as the Sulgrave Institution. The organisation derives its name from Sulgrave Manor, in Northamptonshire, which was the ancestral home of the Washingtons in the sixteenth century. The first principle of the Sulgrave Institution was 'to foster friendship amongst English-speaking peoples and all peoples of goodwill'.

The formation of the Hull branch of the Anglo-American Society was due in a large part to the efforts of Mr Charles Wray. He was connected with the Hull fruit trade. Mr Wray had been a joint secretary of the Mayflower celebrations, which had been held in City Hall in September 1920 and which led to the formation of the Hull branch of the Anglo-American Society.

Toast list for the Anglo-American Society Thanksgiving Dinner [L.369.2]

The first annual Thanksgiving Dinner was held in 1922 at Powolny's restaurant on King Edward Street, known colloquially as 'Polly’s'. It was managed by Petro Louis Dermond who had been born in Smyrna. Under his supervision, it became known as the place to be. However, in 1941, the building received a direct hit during May air raids, and never re-opened its doors.

This dinner was advertised in the Hull Daily Mail in the week leading up to the event, particularly encouraging Americans in the area to attend, and a report of the event appeared in the Friday edition of the paper on 1 December, 1922.

Hull Daily Mail, 1 Dec 1922

To all those American out there, near and far, I wish you a very “Happy Thanksgiving”.

Caoimhe West, Reader Assistant, Unlocking the Treasures Project

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Elizabeth Jackson, An East Yorkshire Witch

On the 19th July 1692 five women were hanged in Salem, Massachusetts. Their conviction was one of witchcraft. One of the accused was Elizabeth Jackson, born in the hamlet of High Hunsley, just twelve miles from Hull.

Graystone, Philip, Elizabeth Jackson of Rowley [Ref: L.9.61 RO]

Elizabeth was around age one when she emigrated with her parents to North America 1638. They sailed from Hull in the June on a ship chartered from London named John, arriving in Salem harbour in August. The family settled down, establishing a home in the newly formed settlement of Rowley, Massachusetts. By the age of seven Elizabeth was a maid in the house of Ezekiel Rogers, formerly minister of St. Peter’s Church, Rowley, East Yorkshire, who was the driving force behind the emigration of a number of Rowley’s parishioners to North America, including Elizabeth and her family.

Aged twenty-one Elizabeth married James Howe of the neighbouring town of Ipswich. Elizabeth and James had five children in total. Elizabeth seems to have developed a strong assertive character, no doubt because her husband, James, was blind. It has been suggested that because of this Elizabeth may have played a more pivotal and dominant role in the community, perhaps proving unpopular in this male dominated society. It was perhaps this strong and assertive character that singled out Elizabeth later on?

Problems began for Elizabeth in 1682. A young girl of a local family began to have fits in which she accused Elizabeth of using witchcraft to make her ill. The young girl, however, refused to name Elizabeth as a witch, but the damage was already done.

Elizabeth was refused admittance to Ipswich church and with it her activities became more isolated, perhaps adding to the already aroused suspicion. Things died down but the issue of witchcraft resurfaced again in 1692, this time in the nearby town of Salem. The community at the time was experiencing difficulties with what appears to be a series of unfortunate and unexplainable events. It was at this time that people looked for scapegoats. The seventeenth century was no stranger to witchcraft hysteria. England and Europe had witnessed such hysteria earlier in the century, and it now spread to the colonies in North America.

The events at Salem centred upon a slave called Tituba, who hailed from Barbados. She regaled horrific stories to a group of girls, including the daughter of Reverend Samuel Parris, to which they believed themselves to be bewitched. The girls developed uncontrollable screaming and spasms, and with it the girls named those who had allegedly bewitched them. The first was of course Tituba. Other names followed, including that of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth found herself incarcerated in Boston prison. Elizabeth found support from her family, but also from Reverend Samuel Phillips, minister of the church in nearby Rowley. Phillips met with the young girl. The girl continued to refuse to name Elizabeth as a witch, despite best efforts of her brother to do so. Others offered testimonies on Elizabeth’s behalf, including neighbours who described Elizabeth as a good Christian.   

Elizabeth along with five other women, were tried in June 1692. The trial began on the 30th June with people demonstrating that they had been bewitched by her. Elizabeth was said to have also appeared in various forms of spirits and spectres. Perhaps the biggest blow to Elizabeth, and indeed her family, came from her brother-in-law, John Howe. He accused Elizabeth of bewitching some of his cattle to death. Of course this was fabricated, but due to Elizabeth and James having no male children, John stood to gain if Elizabeth was out the picture with any property reverting to John and not Elizabeth on James’s death.

In all 150 people were accused. Some were found guilty while others confessed to avoid death. Elizabeth, however, maintained her innocence, but to no avail. The trial concluded inevitably with the sentence of death by hanging. Elizabeth along with four other women were executed on 19th July, their bodies simply cast in to holes at their place of execution. Elizabeth’s death did not bring about an end to witch-hunting in Salem. Four men and one woman were hanged on 19th August with further executions on 19th and 22nd September. Eventually the frenzy did subside. In 1710 legal proceedings were brought to verify Elizabeth’s innocence. The conviction was eventually quashed and the family received compensation for the loss of her life.   

The Salem Witch Trials have captured the imagination of writers and artists over the last three centuries. The American Playwright, Arthur Miller, wrote The Crucible (1953), which was eventually turned into a film in 1996, featuring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder. Today many people have heard of the Salem Witch Trials, but not many know that an East Yorkshire woman as one of those at the centre of this tragic and infamous 17th century witch-hunt.

You can read a detailed account of the life of Elizabeth Jackson and her trial at Salem by Philip Graystone, available in our Local Studies Library at the History Centre at reference L.9.61 RO.

Happy Halloween!

Neil Chadwick, Project Officer.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Hull: City of Poets

Today, Thursday 3rd October 2019, Britain celebrates the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day. Founded in 1994 by William Seighart, National Poetry Day is a campaign to promote the enjoyment of poetry in all its forms. And as such we thought such a celebration provides the perfect opportunity to promote and celebrate poets associated with our city.

Until recently and with the recognition afforded by the City of Culture year in 2017, Hull had often been forgotten, consigned to the margins and thought of as a city at the end of the line. Yet, Hull has a strong history of poets and poetry associated with the city. Peter Porter, the Australian poet, even described Hull as the most poetic city. With the number of poets that have emerged from the area and their work often revealing the influence the city and its people have had on them, sometimes even years after they’ve moved away from the area, perhaps it can be said that Philip Larkin really had something when he described Hull as ‘the town that lets you write.’

In order to help celebrate local poets the Hull History Centre has put together a small exhibition, which will be available to view in the History Centre’s arcade free of charge until Saturday 5th October 2019. The selection of poems and their poets presented in the exhibition and indeed here below, are by no means extensive and the small selection does not pretend to represent all poets associated with the area. Each poem was personally selected by staff at the History Centre from books held in our Local Studies Library collection picked out because the poem spoke some form of truth, was thought provoking, or, more often than not, simply raised a smile.

Poetry exhibition in the Hull History Centre’s arcade, free entry
Below are a small sample of titles and the first line of poems chosen by staff for the exhibition, and the reasons for their choice.

Veritas by George Kendrick

This is to certify that I am …

“Back in the mid 1980’s I took an English Language/Literature course at Hull College.  I was privileged to be taught by a lovely man called George Kendrick of whom I knew nothing about apart from the fact that he was our teacher.  He often mentioned during his lectures that he had written a book of poems.  Years later I finally read the book and have chosen this poem as it made me smile!” Angela

Tolstoy in the bathroom by Peter Knaggs
Tolstoy loves the bathroom …

“I’ve picked Tolstoy In the Bathroom as I loved the idea of taking an author who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time and putting him in an up-to-date domestic setting.  It made Tolstoy more human to me and I felt less daunted about reading one of his works of fiction.” Caoimhe

Absent by Bernard Young
Dear Teacher …

We have all been absent and have spent a lot of our time being absent I think, I just never thought about starting my career as an absent at school! What really makes me giggle, is that all the high powered business executives are spending thousands of pounds to help them de-stress and calm their mind… when there are kids in school that just have that amazing power!” Jenny

Long ago by Grace Wade
Amber eyes, half closed but glowing…

“I knew Grace when I worked at Avenues Library in the 1990s. A lovely lady who lived on the avenues, she was also an artist. I particularly like ‘Long Ago’ as it captures the ways of felines, their possible dreams and their mystique and of course when cats were worshiped as ‘kings’ in Egypt.” Michele

Local Studies Library at the Hull History Centre,
books can be borrowed with a Hull Library ticket

To see the whole exhibition and to borrow books from our Local Studies Library visit us at the Hull History Centre. Remember to bring some form of ID with you (e.g. driving licence) and we’ll be able to register you with a Hull Library ticket. Hull: City of Poets exhibition will be accessible to view at the History Centre until Saturday 5th October 2019.

We hope you enjoy the poems just as much as we have.

Laura Wilson

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Unlocking the Treasures Project

Whilst processing the material in L.069.06, we discovered this latest gem. It is a souvenir programme for the Museum Association (Hull Conference), held 9th-13th July in 1923. The programme is comprised of five fine metal sheets which are joined together by hinges. The illustrated schedule of events was printed in colour on both sides. It is easy to understand why this item was kept after the conference as it made a very special and unusual keepsake.

Souvenir programme, 1923 [L.069.06]

The Museum Association Conference in Hull took place under the presidency of Mr. Thomas Sheppard who was curator of Hull Museums, as well as being a noted archaeologist. In a Hull Daily Mail article published during the event, Mr. Sheppard described his year of being President of the Association as 'the happiest of his life'.

A search of our on-line catalogue revealed that the Hull History Centre holds the original application for the post of Hull Museum Curator, made by Thomas Sheppard of Hull in 1901.

Application of Thomas Sheppard, 1901 [C TCRE/14/1/10]

When the Corporation acquired the Hull Literary and Philosophical Society’s rundown museum, primarily just to extend it as an art gallery, Sheppard worked hard and developed it as a major museum. By the time he retired in 1941 he had been involved in the creation of nine museums in the area.

As an interesting aside, our 'Unlocking the Treasures Project' is funded by the James Reckitt’s Trust grant, so it is quite fitting to see 'Sir James Reckitt' listed as one of the Local Committee members in this programme.

Caoimhe West, Reader Assistant, Unlocking the Treasures Project

Saturday, 7 September 2019

The Tranby and the Settlement of the Swan River

The 9th September marks the 190th anniversary since the ship The Tranby set sail from Hull on a voyage to help establish a new colony by Western Australia’s Swan River. Upwards of forty people from Hull, East Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and beyond, together with livestock and farming equipment, left Hull on 9th September 1829. Their arrival in the February of 1830 is considered one of the first significant migrations to Western Australia.

The Tranby was built on the River Hull at the yard Samuel Standidge Walton. Before being chosen as the vessel to take settlers to form the new colony in 1829, she had been a wreck, lying in the Humber damaged after her moorings broke by Hull’s Citadel. Eventually sold, repaired and fitted out, The Tranby left Hull on 9th September 1829. Crowds lined the old dock, while family, friends and loved ones sailed with The Tranby as far as Spurn Point before a steamer returned them to Hull. 

Emigration Card relating to the voyage of The Tranby from Hull to the Swan River, Australia [ref C DFX/18/1]

Early stages of the voyage were slow with the vessel making little progress, taking almost two weeks to clear the coast of Cornwall. The vessel almost ran aground in the English Chanel. On the 8th December, The Tranby arrived at Cape Town and supplies were replenished and additional livestock taken on board, including horses, geese, ducks and pigeons. Weather conditions hindered the vessels departure, but it eventually set sail again on December 19th.

Voyages of this magnitude brought other dangers for crew, passengers and livestock. Passenger William Hardey died on 21st January, though this was accidental rather than because of illness, while towards the end of the voyage daily rations had been reduced. It wasn’t all bad news. The voyage gained an additional passenger when infant James Brownell was born just before landing at Cape Town, and the birth of some 17 piglets boosted livestock numbers.

A more unusual incident took place on 1st October. It was report that, at about 2.30pm, a fireball from the clouds struck the deck of the vessel. It exploded, slightly injuring and causing shock among a number of passengers and crew. A dog belonging to Mr. Clarkson suffered a broken leg, while one of his sheep was killed. What the passengers and crew had in fact witnessed was a small meteor strike!

Land was eventually sighted on the 2nd February, and The Tranby anchored at the mouth of the Swan River the following day. Eventful as the voyage was, its passengers knew this was just the beginning of an adventure in this largely unknown and forbidding land.

Extract reporting the departure of The Tranby for the Swan River, Australia, The Hull Advertiser, 11 Sep, 1829

Not everyone remained at the Swan River colony. Great risks and difficulties led some settlers to move on to more established colonies such as Hobart in Tasmania. Others returned to England. Those that remained at Swan River put down roots. John Hewson, who arrived on the Tranby as a member of the ship’s crew, initially left before returning with his wife. Others influenced the development of the area. These included the passenger John Hardey, who settled on the South Eastern side of the new town of Perth. He together with his son Robert Hardey did a great deal in developing the Belmont area. James Ougden, who left Hull, was the proprietor of the Pier Hotel and Family Boarding House situated opposite the Perth Jetty.

Although The Tranby is long gone, the house from which it takes its name can still be seen by the Swan River. One of Western Australia’s oldest buildings, it was first built by Ann and Joseph Hardey in 1830. The building we see today dates from 1839, and serves as a reminder of those early pioneers and the role their played in the development of modern day Perth.

You can read about The Tranby, its passengers, and the early years of the Swan River colony in The River Swan Adventure: being a concise history of the voyage of The Tranby to Western Australia from 9th September 1829 to 3rd February 1830 [Reference: L.325.2]. The Local Studies holds other material relating to emigration from Hull and the surrounding area. This can be searched using the Hull Libraries catalogue. And remember, newly catalogued material is being added daily so keeping checking.

Neil Chadwick, Project Officer.

Friday, 30 August 2019

200 Years of Primitive Methodism in Hull!

This year marks 200 years since William Clowes, the prominent Primitive Methodist, came to Hull to preach the gospel. This event inspired a nascent Primitive Methodist community in the city.

A selection of our Local Studies books on the history of Primitive Methodism [L.287.4]

William Clowes was a distant relation of Josiah Wedgewood and was apprenticed to him in Burslem at the age of 10. His family was much poorer than his famous relation’s and he had not received much education. As a young man he was known for his reckless behaviour and admitted in later life that he spent his youth ‘banqueting, gambling and fighting’. He had originally come to Hull to work as a potter in 1804 and received a good wage which he spent on drinking and gambling. Eventually he and some friends got into trouble for impersonating the press gang and he left the city hurriedly, without paying his debts. He returned to Burslem and eventually dedicated his life to God. He worked hard, transformed his life and payed all his debts including those he had incurred in Hull.

In 1819 he was invited back to Hull as a Primitive Methodist preacher. The Primitives believed that the Wesleyan Methodist Church had become too complacent and they were not reaching the people who needed them most. So outdoor meetings, known as camp meetings, were organised and thousands of people attended them. Preachers spoke from the back of carts to those gathered round and because of the way they spoke they became known as Ranters. The Hull Advertiser of 9 July 1824 reports a camp meeting in Cottingham attended by two to three thousand people. The Wesleyan Methodist Church expelled anyone known to attend these camp meetings so the Primitives had set up their own church. It was already in existence when Clowes came to Hull but with a drive for revival and charismatic speakers led by William Clowes it quickly expanded. The church was divided into circuits and the Hull Circuit became a mission centre for the whole country.

Hull Primitive Methodist Church Centenary brochure [L.287.4]

The history centre holds a variety of records from the whole of the Methodist church some of which are administrative records, which can sometimes bring interesting stories with them. Cottingham Primitive Methodist Church had an ongoing saga with their caretaker, she would ask for a pay rise, they would refuse, she would hand her notice in and eventually a compromise would be reached [C DCT/384].

Family historians can view the registers which are kept here, baptisms and marriages are useful sources of information, some are on microfilm and are available to view in the library area, others are the original registers and available in the Search Room. The Primitive churches kept lists of all their members and these are known as roll books which are also available to view in our search room. We do not have registers or roll books for all churches but a list of records held is available, again in the search room, and also on our catalogue.

Stoneferry Primitive Methodist Church baptism register [C DCE/430]

An important Methodist gathering is the annual conference which is still held today. The first Primitive Conference was held in May 1820 in the chapel at Hull where it was reported that there were 7,842 members of the church countrywide. These gatherings debated how the church was to be run. There were strict rules and regulations for congregations and especially for the preachers who were the mainstay of the church. A resolution was passed stating that men were to wear plain dress; single breasted coats only and no fashionable trousers or white hats. The Primitives, unlike the Wesleyans encouraged women preachers and Jane Brown was one woman already preaching in Hull when Clowes arrived.

Centenary Conference programme, 1920 [L.287.4]

Clowes died in Hull on 2 March 1851. He was buried in ‘Primitive Corner’ in the Hull General Cemetery. His funeral cortege passed through Hull where many lined the streets to pay their repects.
The Hull History Centre holds many records relating to the Primitive Methodist Church in Hull. More information about William Clowes and the history of the church can be found in our Local Studies collection [reference number L.287.4].

Elaine Moll, Archivist/Librarian (Hull City Archives and Local Studies Library)

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Happy Yorkshire Day!

1st August is Yorkshire Day. The first one took place in 1975 and was created by the Yorkshire Ridings Society. The day was to be celebrated by wearing white roses and eating Yorkshire Pudding! 1974 had brought boundary changes throughout the United Kingdom and the Yorkshire Ridings, which had existed for over 1000 years, were no longer administrative areas. However the Ridings Society wished to make sure the historical boundaries of the county were not forgotten.

1st August is also Lammas Day, originally a pagan festival celebrating the harvest, the church ’Christianised’ it by calling it Loaf Mass when loaves of bread were blessed. Fairs were held throughout Yorkshire.

Given the Yorkshire and food associations with 1st August, we thought it might be interesting to look at some of the recipe books in our collections to see what Yorkshire delicacies are suggested. Looking at the recipe books from the 18th and 19th centuries in our collections there are very few, if any references to Yorkshire food. We have quite a collection of Yorkshire recipe books from the 20th century in our Local Studies collection and I have been looking at these.

A selection of the cookery books available at Hull History Centre 

Yorkshire Parkin is a well-known recipe, made with treacle and ginger and really lovely if left to mature for a couple of weeks before eating. You can check out our favourite recipe from our collections with this link to a previous blog.

Returning to Yorkshire Pudding; what is the advice for a good Yorkshire Pudding from books in our collections? It is quite a tricky recipe to get right however I was surprised that most of the cookery books I looked at did not have recipes for the pudding in them. Maybe Yorkshire folk are expected to know how to make them! One of the books: Old Yorkshire Recipes by Joan Poulson. (L.641.5) reminds us that the traditional way to serve Yorkshire Pudding is just with gravy as a starter. The pudding should be light with crisp edges.

Recipe for Yorkshire puddings taken from one of our cookery books

There are other recipes which have the words Yorkshire in the title, some better known than others; Yorkshire Goose, Yorkshire Beef Collops, Yorkshire Curd Tarts and Yorkshire Teacakes. The latter according to the Women’s Institute Yorkshire Cookery Book can be plain or fruited.

Recipe for Yorkshire tea cakes taken from one of our cookery books

One famous Hull delicacy is the Hull Pattie. These are available in local fish and chip shops and consist of potato encased in batter. The secret ingredients are the herbs and these might differ but rumour has it that sage is an essential flavour.

If you fancy a drink then you could have some Hull Cheese! In ‘The History of the Town and Port of Kingston upon Hull’ by James Joseph Sheahan (1866) [L.9.7], he describes Hull Cheese as ‘a strong ale mighty as any in the country’. The book also has a poem by John Taylor, the ‘Water Poet’, who visited Hull in 1662. He wrote the poem ‘a very merry wherry-ferrey voyage’, which includes the reference to Hull Cheese: ‘Give me Hull Cheese and welcome and good cheere’. There is also a pub named after the famous ale on Jameson Street in Hull.

So Happy Yorkshire Day and celebrate with some good Yorkshire Fare.

Elaine Moll, Archivist/Librarian (Hull City Archives and Local Studies Library)

Friday, 26 July 2019

Unlocking the Treasures Project

Whilst continuing to work on the 'Unlocking the Treasures' project, I came across this edition of  Daniel Defoe's 'Robinson Crusoe' [L.008 BRO].

The front cover of this issue is very eye-catching with the black art-deco style motifs on an emerald -green background with the title “Robinson Crusoe” printed in gold. The book itself contains several illustrations in black and white print.

Example of one of the illustrations contained in the book

The publisher of this work was Browns of Savile Street & George Street, Hull which is why the copy is in our Local Studies Collection. However, as readers of the said book will be aware, Daniel Defoe's famous fictional castaway, Robinson Crusoe, set sail on his epic voyage from Hull on 1 September 1651 only to get shipwrecked on a remote island near Trinidad.

In those days, there were no docks, and ships used to moor in the Old Harbour of the tidal River Hull, crowded up to the rear of the merchants’ premises lining the High Street. Queen’s Dock, which was infilled in the 1930s to create Queens Gardens, was not built until 1778. There is now a plaque commemorating Robinson Crusoe in Queens Gardens.

Plaque commemorating Robinson Crusoe in Queens Gardens, Hull

As Defoe writes, it was a journey to remember from the very start:

"The ship was no sooner out of the Humber than the wind began to blow and the sea to rise in a most frightful manner; and, as I had never been at sea before, I was most inexpressibly sick in body and terrified in mind."

Cast upon a desert island where he spent 28 years, two months and 19 days one of the most famous fictional characters ever created reflected:

“Had I the sense to return to Hull, I had been happy.”

For more finds from the collections please keep an eye on the blog!

Caoimhe West, Reader Assistant, Unlocking the Treasures Project

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

The Theatre Royal, Hull

Recently, we finished cataloguing work on over 3000 programmes relating to The Theatre Royal in the period 1770-1872. They will soon be available to search on our online catalogue so, to celebrate, this blog looks at the history of the Theatre Royal.

Engraving of the Theatre Royal, Humber Street, by J. Greenwood, 1810 [Lp.792 ROY(2)/1]

The Theatre Royal was opened on Finkle Street in 1769 by an independent stage company owned by Thomas Keregan. The then manager of the company, Tate Wilkinson, oversaw the building of the theatre. The seasons lasted from Oct-Jan and were the second longest of the circuit. The original building was rather inadequate. The street was too narrow and the stage too shallow for the elaborate melodramas so it was replaced in 1810 by another building (pictured), designed by Charles Mountain, the younger, on Humber Street. John Wilkinson, Tate's son was the manager during the period 1803-1814. The Humber Street building's auditorium consisted of a pit, two galleries and two tiers of dress boxes, which could hold some 1700 people, and the upper gallery ran around the whole house. In Oct 1859 the theatre suffered a huge fire leaving it derelict until it was rebuilt in 1865 (Pictured). Another fire ripped through and totally destroy it in 1869 after a performance of Robinson Crusoe.

The New Theatre Royal, Humber Street, 1865 [Lp.792 Roy(3)/1]

The site of Queen’s Theatre, Paragon Street became the Theatre Royal's home from 1871-1909 housing 1500 people. It was a small stuccoed structure of the same design as the Globe, London which contained a pit, a dress circle, and six boxes on the first floor, and upper boxes and a gallery on the second. The stage was 40ft deep and 60ft wide, and the ceiling was domed. The Theatre Royal ceased all activity in Feb 1909 when the Paragon Street building eventually closed. It reopened as the Tivoli Music Hall on 5 Aug 1912. The Tivoli survived bomb damage during the Second World War, but closed for live stage shows in 1954.

The Theatre Royal, Paragon Street, 1882 [Lp.792 ROY(4)/1]

The Theatre Royal programmes have been catalogued to include the date/dates and title of the performance as well as the names of the actors. Seasons lasted from October to January and were the second longest of the circuit. In the early days of the theatre a summer season was avoided for fear that potential audiences would have other priorities. Seafarers, for example, would be working abroad during the summer months and families of theatre goers would more than likely be spending their summers elsewhere.

Actors were found locally where possible because of the costs involved in getting stars from London to perform. Sarah Siddons (arguably the most renowned tragic actress of 18th century Britain) appeared for a week in 1786 but the cost of promoting her season was crippling for the theatre and ate in to any possible profits.

Pictured here is a programme for a production of Othello on Mon 12 Nov 1770. Mr Davis from the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden played the part of Othello and tickets cost theatregoers up to 2s 6d depending on where they chose to sit.

Programme for a performance of Othello, 12 Nov 1770 [L DTTR/1/1/2]
If you are interested in viewing these records please do come in and request the originals in our search room.

Elspeth, Archivist/Librarian, and Jane, Reader Assistant

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Fox the Explorer

July marks the 384th anniversary since the death of Captain Luke Fox. Despite being one of Hull’s most famous explorers, there is no plaque in Hull to commemorate or record his achievements. He was one of a number of early explorers that set out to seek the Northwest Passage, and like all before and almost as many since, he failed. His expedition, however, was the first to circumnavigate Hudson’s Bay. And although he did not find the Northwest Passage his voyage helped pave the way for its eventual navigation in 1908.
Born on 20th October 1586, Fox was christened that same month at St. Mary’s Lowgate. The son of Richard Fox, a Hull mariner who later became an assistant at the Trinity House in Hull, Fox learned his seafaring skills on voyages to the Mediterranean, Spain, France, Holland, Norway, Denmark and the Baltic Sea. He had also been employed in the coasting trade working between Hull, Whitby, Newcastle and London.
The bug for exploring caught Fox at a young age when in 1606, aged 20, he applied to join explorer, John Knight, in an expedition to discover the Northwest Passage, in which Knight himself never returned. Fox, however, was deemed to be too young for such an expedition.

Title page of Fox's 'Northwest' [L.001 FOX]

Undeterred Fox successfully petitioned King Charles I in 1629 for assistance to seek out the Northwest Passage. He set sail from Deptford on HMS Charles on 7th May 1631. Twenty men and two boys signed on as crew and stores were carried for an 18 month voyage. The expedition sailed up the North Sea and called at Orkney before crossing the Atlantic. On the 22nd June Fox and his crew entered the Hudson’s Strait. For the next three months Fox searched for the illusive Northwest Passage but concluded there was no route through to the Pacific Ocean.
Whether Fox intended to remain for winter, or simply planned for the possibility of becoming trapped in ice, the voyage was cut short due to the health of his crew, and on the 22nd September he set sail for home, arriving back on 31st October after nearly six months away.
The legacy of Luke Fox’s six month voyage cannot be underestimated. His expedition was the first to circumnavigate Hudson Bay, proving this stretch of water did not link in to the Pacific Ocean. Exploration, particularly Arctic and Polar carry massive risks. Franklin’s famous expedition almost 200 years later to explore the remaining unexplored Arctic coast ended in failure with the loss of the entire expedition. What makes Fox’s expedition all the more remarkable is that while Franklin’s ships were fitted with the latest technologies of the time, including steam engines, reinforced iron plates for protection against ice, and even internal steam heating for crew comfort, Fox’s ship afforded none this. And unlike Franklin whose crew were all lost, Fox returned without the loss of a single man.

Map showing Fox's Northwest voyage around Hudson's Bay in 1630

Fox recorded his voyage in some detail and went on to publish one of the earliest books on polar exploration and perhaps the first book published by someone from Hull. His book, Northwest Fox (1635), commissioned by Charles I, was one of the most important works in its field, providing an account of his, and other voyages, including tides, depth of seas, longitude and latitudes, proving invaluable for future expeditions. 
Despite his achievements, Fox died poverty stricken at Whitby in 1635 and was buried on 20th July 1635 at St. Mary’s Church, Whitby. His name and legacy live on with the Foxe Channel and Foxe Basin bearing his name to this today.
You can read the account of Captain Luke Fox voyage in his book Northwest Fox (Ref: L.001 FOX), which is available at the History Centre.
Neil Chadwick, Project Officer, Unlocking the Treasures

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The Botanic Garden

The Botanic Garden, by B. Maund, F.L.S, 
[Volumes I –VI], 

Edited by James C. Niven 
[Curator of the Botanic Gardens, Hull] 

[L.001 NIV]

As summer is upon us, I thought it would be an ideal time to highlight this extraordinarily beautiful series of six volumes.  This issue was published in 1878 and contains an array of exquisite illustrations of flowers and plants.  It is in our local studies collection since it was edited by James Niven, Curator of the Botanic Gardens, Hull.

Hull’s Botanic Gardens, south of Anlaby Road was open to subscribers in June 1812.  Over time, due to Hull’s rapid urban expansion, the Botanic Gardens rural ambience was impossible to retain and it closed in 1877.  James Niven was commissioned to design another Botanic Gardens on a larger, more rural site on Spring Bank West.  This was opened in July 1880 but Niven didn’t live long to see the fruits of his labour, passing away after a long illness the following year.  Niven was also responsible for planning Pearson Park.  
More free parks opened in Hull [West Park, 1885; East Park 1887] and, as a result, the Botanic Gardens closed in 1890.  Part of the site was sold to the Hull Football Club in 1887 whilst the remaining land was acquired for the creation of Hymers College which opened in 1893.

Caoimhe West, 
Reader Assistant, Unlocking the Treasures Project

Friday, 7 June 2019

International Archives Day

On the 9th June 1948, the International Council on Archives (ICA) was created. Since 1948, this date has been celebrated as International Archives Day. The aims of the ICA are to support and develop best practice within archives, and to promote awareness across the world.
To mark International Archives Day we bring you a brief tour, in pictures, of Hull History Centre’s collections.

Exterior of Hull History Centre showing our 'Larkin Toad'

And the tour starts outside the building, with a piece of sculpture which some of you might remember as being part of the Larkin Toad trail. The association of the poet Philip Larkin with Hull History Centre is two-fold: firstly, the centre holds his personal archives, including workbooks, letters, photographs and library; and secondly, as Librarian, Larkin’s support for the development of the University of Hull’s manuscript collection laid the groundwork for what became the University Archives Service (now part of Hull History Centre). The toads are a nod to one of Larkin’s most famous poems. In addition to Larkin’s papers, the History Centre holds some other notable literary collections, like the papers of novelist and feminist reformer, Winifred Holtby (1898-1935), and the papers of novelist, playwright and screenwriter, Alan Plater (1935-2010).

Larkin workbook page showing a draft of the poem 'Toads' [U DPL/1/3]

The bulk of the History Centre’s holdings consist of records created by Hull City Council and its predecessors. These records document the history of the city from some of the very earliest years of the settlement. One of the earliest documents, and perhaps most locally significant, is the charter granted by King Edward I in 1299. Written in Latin on parchment, the charter enabled the fledging settlement to become a borough, a self-governing community, with its own court, coroner, market and authority to collect taxes. This began the process which led to Hull becoming the thriving city we know today.

Charter of King Edward I, 1299 [C BRC/1]

And from the high and mighty documents which guard the legal rights of our city, to the mundane council records that are necessary for the daily life of a city.... The History Centre also holds records which document the drive to improve housing conditions during the 1920s and 1930s. The following image records the laying of pipes necessary for the conversion of old privies into water closets.
Layout of the new drainage for 53 Freehold Street, in the west of the city, 1928 [C TAP/73/125]
The History Centre’s holdings don’t just document the local situation, they also demonstrate the international connections and relationships which the city has had over the centuries. Hull has a number of links and twining arrangements with many places across the world, including Rotterdam, Reykjavik, Freetown, Szczecin, Niigatta and Raleigh. This document records a 1967 visit to Hull made by a party of civic dignitaries from Rotterdam.

Itinerary for the visit of a group from Rotterdam, including Mayor W. Thomassen, 1967 [C SRL/E/178]

Some of the History Centre’s most well-used collections are the papers of notable landed families which document the workings of their estates and the political careers of prominent family members. The records of the Sykes family of Sledmere in the East Riding of Yorkshire are an example of how archives can be used to look into the origins of political tensions. Sir Mark Sykes (1879-1919), was a noted traveller, diplomat and British politician. He was heavily involved in the Middle East and his papers help to shed light on the Arab Revolt and the collapse of the Turkish Empire during the First World War.

Map of the Euphrates district, 1910 [U DDSY2/4/72]

Within the Local Studies Library there are many examples of scrapbooks which have been compiled by various antiquarians and researchers, and which reflect the interests of the compiler. This image, from the ‘Yorkshire Scrapbook’ shows the page for Hull and was compiled in the mid nineteenth century. It brings our attention to various events, including the importation of over a million leeches in 1825!

Page from the 'Yorkshire Scrapbook' [L DLYS/1]

Finally, with an eye to a historical future that never was, we take a look at what the city might have looked like, had the vision of town planners Sir Patrick Abercrombie and Sir Edwin Lutyens been put into practice. Developed in 1945 with the intention of regenerating the heavily blitzed city, it was certainly a bold vision of the future. However, it was unpopular with local politicians and businesses, and would have required vast amounts of funding and resources at a time of economic difficulty. Had it been done our city would be very different from today!

View of Hull as proposed by Abercrombie and Lutyens [L.711A]

The vision of the Hull History Centre is to make history available to all, for research, for learning and for leisure. We want to inspire everyone to take an interest in the city of Hull, it’s past, present and future. We hope we’ve inspired some of you to come and see what else we hold. All that remains is to day ‘Happy International Archives Day’!

Paul Leaver, Archivist/Librarian (Hull City Archives and Local Studies)

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Access to books at the History Centre

We are now four months in to the Unlocking the Treasures project and we thought we’d take a moment to provide a progress update, but also help you get the best out of using the Hull Libraries to access books at the History Centre.

At present, over 1,200 books have being catalogued. Some are newly catalogued making them available on the Hull Libraries Catalogue for the first time, while others have been edited to ensure they can be found more easily when searching. We hope to have all our books available to search on the Hull History Centre’s online catalogue shortly.

With just a fraction of the books catalogued, we still have a long way to go. But in this short time a good range of subjects have been added to our already extensive book stock. Recent catalogued subject’s include geology, medicine, the supernatural and ghosts, temperance and religion. These complement our existing book stock on transport, natural history, trade and industry, architecture, literature, biographies, family history together with Hull and East Riding history.

Storage rack of newly catalogued books

You can search for books held at the Hull History Centre (and across all of Hull Libraries) by using the library catalogue. Searches can be carried out by ‘word’ or ‘phrase’, ‘author’, ‘title’, ‘subject’, ‘series’ and ‘periodical title’. Some books at the History Centre can be borrowed using a Hull library card. Look out for ‘DUP’ when viewing a catalogue entry as this means they can be borrowed. Books can be borrowed for 3 weeks.

Hull Libraries catalogue search

Books that cannot be borrowed will be shown on the catalogue as ‘Reference Material’. You can still access these books it just means you will need to view them in our search room. This is because some books are rare or out of publication, and these are very difficult to replace. Also the search room is environmentally controlled meaning some of our older, more fragile books will be preserved for future generations.

A selection of books from the local studies collection

Joining Hull Libraries is simple. You can join online by visiting the Hull Libraries website. You can also join in person. And remember anyone can join, just remember to bring some proof of name and address. So go on, search the Hull Libraries Catalogue today and see what you can discover!

Neil Chadwick, Project Officer

Thursday, 16 May 2019

A Mercantile Family's Correspondence 1743-1866

In September 2018, papers relating to the Terry family of Hull were deposited with Hull History Centre.

The papers consist of a large quantity of correspondence which has the potential to reveal a great deal about the religious development of the Hull area and beyond during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It could also be useful in telling us more about merchant family relationships in Hull as well as helping to shed light on the many battles for social reform and philanthropic causes that took place during this time, including William Wilberforce’s campaign to end slavery. The correspondence makes a fascinating read and has now been catalogued under the reference C DFTF. Additionally, the depositor created transcriptions of the correspondence, copies which are available in our search room [C SRL/T/46].

The Terry family were merchants. Richard Terry (c.1740-1804) was a Hull shipowner. His company ‘Richard Terry & Sons’, traded primarily with the Baltic and Russia importing timber. He was also an Evangelical Anglican. A Methodist sympathiser, he was a devotee of John Wesley, who visited Richard’s Hull home at Newland several times and once even preached in his garden. Richard married Anne Avison in in 1767.

One of Richard and Anne's sons was Avison Terry, another merchant and ship owner who served Hull twice as Mayor (1827, 1829) and once as Sheriff (1813). He was the person responsible for raising £1,110 by public subscription for the building of St. John's Church, Newland. The Church was consecrated by the Archbishop of York on 23rd September 1833.

Newland Parish Church, Hull [L RH/3/315]

Ann Terry’s brother was William Charles Avison (1746-1821), another Baltic trader who spent most of his working life in Baltic ports, mainly Narva (Russia) and Elsinore (Denmark). From the correspondence it is clear that he was in close business contact with Richard Terry. However there had been a short period when the suitability of Richard as a husband for Ann was in doubt. Some of the letters make astonishing reading and are certainly good examples of what women faced when they dared to marry someone whom their family and friends deemed unsuitable!

Other letters in the collection are from members of the Stillingfleet family. Rev. James Stillingfleet [1741-1826], a noted evangelical, attended Oxford University and became a Master of Arts and fellow of Merton College. He was ordained as a deacon in 1764 and as a priest in 1766. He became rector of Hotham in 1771, where he remained for nearly 56 years until his death. One of his closest friends was the Rev. Joseph Milner headmaster of Hull Grammar School, himself a prominent evangelical and historian.

Another contributor is John Thornton of Clapham, London (1720-1790). He was a merchant involved in the Baltic trades and Russia and an early patron of the evangelical movement in Britain. Some sources suggest that John Thornton was the second richest man in Europe. He traveled extensively and spent most of his fortune on promoting the Evangelical movement and buying up parish patronages so that they could install evangelical priests thus contributing to churches in many different parts of the country. Some correspondence is between John Thornton and Richard Terry and relates to the churches in and around Hull, including Cottingham. During this period the mainstream Church of England was in a parlous state with much corruption and absentee clergymen claiming their salaries.

John Thornton married Lucy Watson in 1753. Their sons; Henry, Samuel and Robert all became Members of Parliament and members of the Clapham Sect of evangelical reformers determined to reform the established church. The Clapham Sect was led by Rev. Henry Venn, curate at Holy Trinity, Clapham Common. The Thornton brothers, close friends and cousins of William Wilberforce, were also associated with the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade and many other campaigns for social reform and philanthropic causes, as were the Terry and the Stillingfleet families.

Portrait of William Wilberforce, 1836 [L DFWW/3/1]

This is a fantastic collection and we are really happy to be able to promote it as a valuable historical research resource. As a hitherto undiscovered collection, the research value is huge and would make a fantastic project for any student of history.

Anyone wishing to learn more about this collection can visit us at the History Centre. For visiting information please see our website. A full descriptive catalogue is available to view in paper format in the searchroom and will shortly be available through the online catalogue.

Elspeth Bower, Archivist Librarian (Hull City Archives)

Friday, 10 May 2019

Unlocking the Treasures Project

When processing the Methodist Sunday School Union Hymn Book [L.245], I was struck by the ornate front cover which was embossed with “Crowned E R June 26th 1902”. Pasted inside the book there is a printed certificate showing that it was presented by the Brunswick Wesleyan Sunday School, Hull to Olive Hawes as a memento of the Coronation of His Majesty King Edward VII, June 26th 1902 from the officers of the school. The 26th June is crossed through and “Aug 9” is written over it in pen.

Edward VII was 59 when he became King on 22 January 1901, on the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.  His coronation was set for 26 June 1902 [hence the embossed date on the front cover and printed certificate] but only two days before hand the King was forced to postpone it until 9th August of the same year owing to an attack of appendicitis which required an emergency operation. 

After all the loving care put into the front cover, I am pleased that the Sunday School Officers decided to go ahead and give out the hymnal as it was – although I suspect the cost of rebinding the cover was the overriding consideration since the printed certificate would indicate that a copy of the hymnal was presented to many [if not all] of the children in the Brunswick Wesleyan Sunday School.

It also serves as a timely reminder that not everything in print is accurate!

Caoimhe West, Reader Assistant, Unlocking the Treasures Project

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Volunteering for peace in the aftermath of the Second World War

The IVSP logo

One of the collections currently being catalogued here at the History Centre is the records of the International Voluntary Service, formerly the International Voluntary Service for Peace, which is the British branch of an organisation called Service Civil International. Above is the IVSP logo, a shovel over a background of a broken sword, with the slogan “Pick and shovel peacemaking” – a reference to the organisation’s founding idea that useful physical work carried out by volunteers from many countries could contribute to international peace.

One of the most interesting parts of the collection is a section about relief work the IVSP took part in from 1944 until 1949 before and after the end of the Second World War. This section contains minutes and reports, but also contains some personal letters and photos. Most of the reports relate to Units 1 and 2, which went to Greece and Crete, and Units 4, 5 and 7, which went to Germany and the Netherlands.

IVSP Unit 4, taken just before leaving London
IVSP Unit 4 left London for the Netherlands in April 1945, and they were there for about three months before being moved into Brunswick, Germany, just a few miles from the border with the Russian zone of occupation. 

A report by Unit 4, July 1945

After several months working with Polish displaced persons awaiting repatriation, in September 1946 the unit was moved to northern Schleswig Holstein, not far from Denmark. Here the volunteers assisted in the coordination of refugees from former eastern German territories which had been ceded to Poland. Ethnic Germans had been expelled from these areas in huge numbers. They were assigned to the occupied zones in Germany, with around 1.5 million being assigned to the British zone. They were ordered to be billeted on the local population, in an attempt to quickly assimilate them, which did not work as there were simply too many people to accommodate.

In December 1946, the conditions reported by the IVSP team were poor. Huge numbers of displaced Germans had arrived, but there was simply nowhere for them to go, so most were living in camps. In the better camps the large rooms had been partitioned to allow each family a small room of their own, but in the worse ones five or six families would be sharing a room. There was no electric lighting as, although there was electricity, there were no lightbulbs. The roofs almost universally leaked, as there was no tar or felt to be found.

The Unit’s area was the northern part of the province, and they reported that in their initial survey of the district they had seen over 200 camps containing a total population of some 40,000 refugees. They were trying to help the refugees help themselves and “avoid falling into apathy and despair”, as they reported: “This is our aim in establishing camp workshops, where the refugees can make themselves pots and pans from old food tins and from scrap metal which we have scrounged from dumps and aerodromes. Old tyres are good for shoe repairing, bits of wood are turned into beds… Toys made from driftwood are being kept for Christmas…”

A few months later, in March 1947, conditions had deteriorated further. The winter had been cold – it was still snowing – and there was almost no fuel for heating the camps.

Food was also in short supply and the unit was trying to supplement the camp rations, as they reported, “With supplies obtained from Red Cross stores and sent by friends in England, we have been able to extend our child feeding schemes which are now in full swing in 91 out of our total of 185 camps. Our stocks will still only run to feeding ten out of every hundred children and the local doctor has considerable difficulty in selecting those most in need of extra nourishment. A hot drink provided every other day consists either of thick soup containing dried vegetables and meat extract, or of cocoa and dried milk, with margarine or jam to spread on their own bread ration, and in addition half a bar of chocolate or a Horlicks tablet on the alternating days.”

Despite the conditions, the unit members were still committed to IVSP values. The unit leader wrote, “I do not think we should consider our presence in Germany entirely justified if our job consisted solely of ministering to the material needs of the refugees. It has become obvious at our fortnightly International Discussion Group meetings that young Germans are tired of talking and are wanting something practical to do… Discussion Group meetings, for which we have secured speakers on subjects such as “A Comparison of the German and English Social Insurance Legislation”, “The Ideals of Youth” and “English and German Manners and Customs” are always packed to overflowing and there is no shyness or hesitation at expressing frank opinions.”

IVSP personnel in Germany, 1947

The work of unit 4 continued in Schleswig throughout 1947, as conditions continued to be difficult and food shortages carried on into 1948. The IVSP units were now making more progress beyond just relief. In the summer of 1948 they had started a pen-friend scheme for 14-22-year-olds, and there were 66 Germans corresponding with British young people. They reported back to headquarters, “More directly we help the German branch of Service Civil International… We have two very keen groups meeting weekly… and a third meeting occasionally… The group programmes are mainly concerned with the deepening of international understanding through the discussion of mutual problems, hearing guest speakers from other countries when such opportunities occur, and through international workcamps.”

By late 1948 it was clear that IVSP’s role in providing civilian relief had come to an end. Their ongoing projects were passed over to the West German branch of Service Civil International, which the units had helped to get on its feet, and the last IVSP team left the country in early 1949.