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.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Publishing, Printing and Authors

We are now two months in to the 2.5 year Unlocking the Treasures project, and at present almost one thousand books have been catalogued and are now available to search using the Hull Libraries online catalogue. Previous to this very few of these books were available to search using the libraries online catalogue. A large number of these books relate to local authors [Ref: L.001] together with books published or printed in Hull and the surrounding area, including Beverley or Hedon [Ref: L.003-L.009].

During the cataloguing process it was surprising to see the number of books published or printed in Hull especially as we think of London, Oxford and Cambridge at the centre of printing and the publishing of literature. Hull was not alone, however. Beverley and Hedon, and indeed other towns and cities around the United Kingdom were printing and publishing books.

Eleven Sermons, by Daniel Rowland – printed and
published by T. Briggs of Hull in 1788. Ref: L.003 BRI
The History Centre has some excellent examples of early Hull printing. These include T. Briggs, whose premises were on Church Lane and Innes & Gray with premises in Whitehorse Yard in the latter half of the 18th century. Printing, driven by the greater efficiency through industrialisation, expanded and with it printed material became cheaper and more widely available. 

The nineteenth century saw a dramatic increase in the number of printers in Hull. In 1851 at least 20 printers were present in Hull, but by end of the century this number had increased threefold to 80.


One of the earliest books in among our holdings is John Clarke’s An essay upon education shewing how Latin and Greek, published in 1711 [Ref: L.001 CLA]. Clarke became the Master of the Hull’s Grammar School, and it is possible that this book would be familiar to pupils at Hull’s Grammar School.

Captain Luke Foxe's account of his voyage to the 
North West Passage - printed in 1635. Ref: L.001 FOX
An even earlier book in the History Centre’s holding is that by Captain Luke Foxe of Kingston upon Hull [b.1586-d.1635]. As an explorer, Foxe sought to seek out the elusive North West Passage. 

Unfortunately Foxe never found the passage, and it was not until the early 20th century that this passage was eventually traversed. He did, however, leave his mark with the Foxe Basin and Peninsular named after him. 

You can, read the account of Captain Luke Foxe voyage at the History Centre [Ref: North-West or Fox from the North-west passage, L.001 FOX].





Portrait of William Andrews, from The F.O.S 
Portrait Gallery, publication unknown, 1903 
Of all the authors William Andrews has to be one of the most prolific. A native of Kirkby Woodhouse, William Andrews spent 30 years of his life in Hull. A distinguished antiquarian, he played a major role in all things connected with literary life in the city and beyond. He wrote articles and volumes, especially the bygone ecclesiastical customs and curiosities, (of which copies are available at the History Centre, Ref: L.001 AND). 

He was the founder and secretary of the Hull Literary Society, the originator of the East Riding Antiquarian Society and Vice-President of the Northern Counties Library Association. Added to this he was a member of the Yorkshire Dialect Society and founded the Hull Press, which had its office in Dock Street. It was here where a large number of books and antiquarian material was published and printed. 

He was later appointed as Librarian to the Hull Subscription Library where his knowledge of literature was of great assistance to the library. William Andrews died in 1908 but many of his local works can be found among the Local Studies books here at the Hull History Centre.

Don’t forget to keep checking the blog as the project progresses. And remember new books are added almost daily and can be searched using the Hull Libraries online catalogue. (the newly catalogued material will also appear on the History Centre online catalogue when the next update is processed). Searches can search by subject, author, or under the class number. You can even narrow your search to a specific publication date and library.

Happy searching!

Neil Chadwick
Project Officer, Unlocking the Treasures

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

What I Wish I Knew Before I Started!

I’ve been working as a trainee archivist for 3 and a half months as part of the Bridging the Digital Gap programme.  In that time, I’ve been introduced to traditional archives work, including record retrieval, depositing records, accessions and cataloguing. I’m now progressing into the digital world of archives work, including ingest and cataloguing, though I’m still new to the sector. When I started, I didn’t know about the wider aspects of operating within an archive, or some of the long term issues been worked on nationally and internationally.


I attended the recent DPC event “What I Wish I Knew Before I Started” down in London, hosted by Sharon McMeekin, Adrian Brown, Edith Halvarsson, Matthew Addis, and Glenn Cumiskey. It was aimed at students and recent graduates, but myself and a fellow trainee attended. It was the first proper conference I’ve attended, but the presentations and atmosphere were very easy going, and the speakers were really informative. They touched on subjects I hadn’t yet come across; such as the three legged stool model, problems with intangible assets, ethical implications of what archives hold, and many other ideas and concepts I hadn’t thought about before.

This event gave me an opportunity to see archives on a national scale. Until attending the event, my only experience of archives was through my work place and from limited visits to other repositories. The event gave me a sense of the inter-connectivity, the network behind individual archives. The end of the conference was rounded out by an open table, giving students a chance to ask the speakers questions. Loads of points were brought up, from short term career goals (how to get into archives and move around the sector) to developmental challenges overseas (how do you start and maintain an archive in an impoverished country). In the short amount of time I’ve spent at Hull History Centre, I’ve come to realise the positive impact archives can have to local communities and educational institutions. I’m only now considering the international community that surrounds the archival sector.


And that was my main take away from the event. The amount of communication advocating for digital preservation was fascinating to see; it was brought up several times throughout the event but really came to ahead with the open questions. On an international scale people are talking and progressing the idea of digital preservation. “What can we do for the future?” was asked several times by the speakers, and this was the first time I had thought about the long term implications of my career.

What is obvious is that I’ve entered the sector at a very interesting time. Things are changing, the digital side of archiving is becoming more prevalent, and my skillset is becoming more useful as the idea of digital preservation continues. I am excited for the future, and looking forward to continuing my development.
Jack Quinlan, Bridging the Digital Gap Trainee

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Trains, Ships and Public Celebrations – The Opening of the Hull, Barnsley and West Riding Junction Railway 1885

When looking for something for Facebook to mark the 134th Anniversary of the opening of the Hull, Barnsley and West Riding Junction Railway, I came across an interesting little scrapbook [RefNo. C TMS/28]. I was so taken with it that I thought it would make a good blog subject.

Cover of C TMS/28

Whilst construction on the railway was completed on the 27 February, the official opening ceremony didn't take place until later in the year. The volume is a leather-bound and engraved album containing press cuttings and photographs relating to the joint opening of the Hull Barnsley & West Riding Junction Railway on the 28 May 1885 and Alexandra Dock a couple of weeks later on the 16 July 1885. The volume was presented to the Mayor and Aldermen of the Hull Corporation, an earlier incarnation of the City Council, as a memento of the historic occasion.

Dedication page at the front of the volume

The project had been undertaken to increase the capacity of the town to engage in maritime trade. The existing ‘Old Dock’ was working at capacity and new opportunities were ripe to be exploited. Two men, Mr Smith and Mr Fisher spearheaded the campaign, overseeing the formation of the Hull Barnsley and West Riding Railway and Dock Company to manage the project through to completion. It was a huge undertaking, more than just a commercial venture for a single business, but instead of utmost importance to the economic prosperity of the whole town. The press cuttings and photographs in the scrapbook serve to illustrate this point, showing just how involved the whole town felt in the project. 

The Hull Barnsley and West Riding Junction Railway was opened to great pomp and ceremony. A press-cutting taken from the Eastern Morning News on the 29 May 1885 reported:
‘Yesterday, by invitation of the directors of the Hull and Barnsley Railway and Dock Company, the members of the Hull Corporation paid a visit to the Company’s works, and subsequently travelled by the railway to the point where it crosses the River Ouse. At a luncheon, which was served in one of the transit sheds, Colonel Smith (chairman of the company) presided, and several congratulatory speeches were delivered.’

The paper goes on to describe the atmosphere of the event:
‘It seemed as if spring had been kept back for the occasion…. Such a glorious display of sunshine, bringing out into the boldest relief every feature and outline of the works, seemed like an effort of nature to celebrate the completion of by far the finest dock which Hull now possesses.’

The occasion was captured on film:
This first photograph shows attendees sat around tables in the shed where the luncheon was served. Colonel Smith can be seen stood in the centre giving a speech as Chairman of the Company.

Photograph taken 28 May 1885, 'The Luncheon, in the shed at Alexandra Dock'

A second photograph shows a steam engine with plate ‘Loco No.14’, the engine crew are present and a group of men stand on the tracks nearby talking about the day’s events.

Photograph taken 28 May 1885, 'The First Train on the Hull & Barnsley Railway'
A third photograph shows a large crowd of people stood on the dock walls. To the left of the picture it is possible to make out the first train to run on the line in position ready to take passengers to the Ouse Bridge. 

Photograph taken 28 May 1885, 'First Train Day on the Hull & Barnsley Railway'

A final photograph shows a large group of people stood on the tracks at Ouse Bridge, the terminal point for this seminal first journey on the Hull and Barnsley Railway.

Photograph taken 28 May 1885, 'The first passengers at the Ouse Bridge'

The official opening of Alexandra Dock took place a few weeks later on the 16 July 1885. The Hull Daily Express reported the following morning that the opening day had been made a public holiday, such was the importance of this new dock to the town of Hull. Hull Friendly and Trade Societies organised a procession through the town to mark the occasion. Participants marched in full regalia and were accompanied by regimental and company bands. People lined up at the dock waiting to see the first ships enter.

At 10:00am the ‘Orlando’ steamer, commanded by Captain Watson, left Minerva Pier with the Mayor, Corporation, the directors and their guests. Messrs T. Wilson and Co. had put the ship at the disposal of the directors for the event. She was to be the first vessel to enter the dock. She was accompanied a few moments later by the Trinity House yacht ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ and another Wilson Co. steamer, the ‘Angelo’, captained by Captain Johnson and carrying 250 guests of Messrs T. Wilson and Co. Both steamers were decorated for the occasion in streamers and flags. Behind these three vessels came a procession of smaller ships including the ‘Warrior’, the ‘Zero’, the ‘Manchester’, the ‘Lady Elizabeth’ and the ‘May’.

A white ribbon had been stretched across the entrance inside the inner gates of the dock, and the breaking of the ribbon signalled the official opening had taken place. The ‘Orlando’ passed the first gates at 10:45am and entered the dock at 11:40am. The cavalcade was greeted by bands playing ‘See the Conquering Hero Comes’ on ship and shore. After a short trip around the dock, the ‘Orlando’ landed her passengers at the southern shed, which was decorated with flags and carpet. The Yorkshire Hussar Band played on a specially constructed platform inside the shed, and speeches were given by the Mayor and various important figures from the Dock Company. The proceedings were then followed by a luncheon in the west transit shed, which was also decorated for the occasion.

Again, the occasion was documented on film:
This first photograph shows the ‘Orlando’ approaching the lock pit, surrounded by ships and yachts including the Defiance, the True Briton and the May.

Photograph taken 16 July 1885, 'The Orlando approaching Dock lock pit'

A second photograph shows the Orlando steamer with rigging decorated in flags in the lock pit, huge crowds are gathered around the ship on the lock walls.

Photograph taken 16 July 1885, 'The Orlando in lock pit'

The final photograph shows the ‘Orlando’ steamer with decorated rigging at the head of a procession in the dock, huge crowds can be seen on the dock walls.

Photograph taken 16 July 1885, 'The Orlando in Alexandra Dock'

To read more, why not come and have a look at the volume yourself in our searchroom, or use the newspaper collection on microfilm to look up other reports of these events? We look forward to seeing you.

Claire Weatherall, Assistant Archivist (HUA)