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.