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)

Friday, 8 February 2019

Three Crowns on the Crest

Hull has in its three gold crowns on a blue background, a very handsome coat of arms. It’s instantly recognisable and very popular; many readers will remember that upwards of twenty years ago the City was re-branded with a ‘cog’ logo which was widely criticised as lacking the antiquity of our coat of arms. After all, our ‘Three Crowns’ date from the fifteenth century.

The crest of the City of Hull

(By the way, while technically the golden regal headgear is described as ‘three ducal coronets’, they represent crowns).

However, unlike many cities, Hull doesn’t have a crest (the arrangement on a helmet above the shield), supporters (figures flanking it), or a motto (generally an apt phrase in Latin on a scroll beneath the shield). It doesn’t appear that we either assumed them or petitioned to be granted them by the Heralds. Their absence has been commented on in the past – Hull’s Edwardian historian JR Boyle was of the opinion that that “the importance of the city of Hull might justly be regarded as entitling it to additions to its arms in the form of supporters, crest and motto.” Sculptors and artists have felt the absence of supporters in the past, and have invented supporters for various representations of the arms. For instance, Roman gods Neptune and Ceres recline on either side of the coat of arms on Brook Chambers at the top of Prospect Street; mermaids act as supporters at the College of Art (now the Northern Academy of Dramatic Art) on Anlaby Road; and lions serve on the former Northern Library.

Concerned by this lack of heraldic frills, at least one heraldry enthusiast has had a stab at designing extras for our coat of arms in the past. A letter of 24 November 1946 to the Town Clerk accompanied this splendid illustration [C TMA/13]. In it, a Mr H Ellis Tomlinson of Thornton le Fylde, Lancashire pointed out that Hull was the only one of the ten principal cities that did not have crest, motto, or supporters. He goes on to offer his services in negotiating between the City and the College of Arms, (apparently he had arranged the grant of arms to the East Riding County Council in 1945) and explains his illustration.

The crest, a medieval ship, known heraldically as a lymphad, is taken from the image on the medieval seal of the Admiral of the Humber which shows a similar ship with the three crowns on its single sail. The supporters are royal lions of England, as appropriate for the King’s Town upon Hull, and are distinguished with black collars bearing the white roses of Yorkshire. The motto, Mare Copia, means ‘Abundance from the Sea’.

The Town Clerk was not convinced unfortunately.

“Dear Sir” he wrote on 5 March 1946 “I have consulted the appropriate authority and have received instructions to inform you and whilst your offer is appreciated the Corporation cannot, at the present time, avail themselves of it.”

And there the matter continues to rest.

Martin Taylor, City Archivist