Wednesday, 14 July 2021

The Streets of Hull: history & their names, part 2

In this second of a two part blog, the Unlocking the Treasures team look at streets L-Z as to how they acquired their names and history. If you haven’t already, check out part one.

Land of Green Ginger

Many explanations have been put forward for the origins of its name. Some wide of the mark. Perhaps simplest explanation is that provided by John Markham in his book, Streets of Hull, in that it derives its name from spices, which were highly prized in the Middle Ages, and like today were used to add flavour to foods. It is here that ginger was stored ‘green’ indicating ‘undried’. It was formerly a part of Beverley Street (not to be confused with Beverley Road), which through the medieval town. From Mytongate, and followed Trinity House Lane, Land of Green Ginger, Manor Street northwards, beyond Alfred Gelder Street. Frost’s early 13th plan of Hull depicts it route (see Scale Lane for plan).


Many of us have probably being stuck in traffic on Mytongate, more than we’d ideally like to. Its origins, however, go much further back. It was once the principal street leading to the hamlets of Myton and Wyke in the Middle Ages, which were just beyond the town’s defences. On Frost’s plan of 13th century Hull, it was previously known as Lyle Street. It eastern part was known as La Belle Tour (the fine walk) given to the fact that even at the end of 18th century it was an airy and open street. A far cry from the hustle and bustle of Hull’s busiest road today.

Illustration of Mytongate bridge c.1800s [Ref: Lp.624 MYT/1] 

North Street

Today North Street is very much central in Hull, joining Prospect Street and with Ferensway. At the time of its development North Street was Hull’s most northerly street, hence its name. Barely noticeable today, North Street, like much the immediate area was once home to Hull’s working class residents.

Osbourne Street

This street, like some already mentioned derives its name from a leading Hull family. This time, Robert Osbourne, who was Recorder of Hull, Beverley and Hedon. When Robert married he was offered, as part of his wife’s dowry, £5,000 or some fields. Land being valuable, he chose the fields, in which he built a property on which Osbourne Street developed.

Princes Avenue

Very much a country road in its early years, Princes Avenue or Mucky Peg Lane as it was known due to its terrible condition in the winter months, derived a number of names over the years. These included Sculcoates Occupation Lane, Newland Tofts Lane at its southern end, The New Boulevard and Prince’s Bank Road. It was officially opened as Prince’s Bank Avenue in the March of 1875. There were grand plans for Princes Avenue. It was intended to link up with Boulevard on Hessle Road, but this did not materialise.  

Prospect Street

Prospect Street began life in 14th century as a stretch highway from Hull’s old town to Beverley. Originally the ‘Beverley Road’, it took its name ‘Prospect Street’ in 1797 from the beautiful view or ‘prospect’ of the country towards the Yorkshire Wolds.

Hull General Infirmary, Prospect Street c.1788. Note the countryside beyond [Ref: Lp.362.1/29]

Queen Street

Developed at the beginning of the 19th century and named after Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, Queen Street’s origins date much further back. It replaced a narrow, much older road called the butchery, which was medieval in its origins. 

Queen Street showing the Old Market Shambles which were demolished in the early 1880s from the Eastern Morning News 1923 [Ref: Lp.9.7 QUE/1]

Roebank Arcade (Bransholme)

We think of Bransholme has one of Hull’s newly created estates, but like the name Bransholme, Roebank is an old name itself. Spelt in a variety of ways (Raw, Rawe and Row) Roebank refers to Soffam Farm which reached almost to the River Hull. In the late 19th century the area was isolated and covered in wild roses and trees. 

Thomas Blashill’s medieval plan of Sutton. Soffam Farm in which which Roebank refers to was located close to the Forth Dyk[e] boarding the parish of Wawne [Waghen] reaching close to the River Hull [Ref: L.9.64 SU]

Scale Lane

Ever visited the Manchester Arms? Or perhaps taken a walk over Scale Lane Bridge? Then the chances are you’ve been down Scale Lane. It is believed to have been named after an old merchant family in the Middle Ages (Scale or Skayl). Today it is home to Hull’s oldest domestic building (No.5). Originally Aldgate, Aldgate ran the length of Whitefriargate, Silver Street and Scale Lane.

Frost’s early 14th century map of Hull and the vicinity. Note the early street names including Scale Lane, which was once Aldgate running from what is today Whitefriargate, Silver Street and Scale Lane. Also note Beverley Street which today now comprises of Fish Street, Trinity House Lane, Land of Green Ginger and Manor Street and Lyle Street, now Mytongate

Thomas Clarkson Way

A modern road linking Sutton Park and Kingswood, it derives its name from Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846). Clarkson collected information about the cruelty of the slave trade and was a colleague of William Wilberforce in his campaign for emancipation. Sadly Clarkson’s name has become somewhat forgotten, giving way to the likes of William Wilberforce and David Hartley.

Upton Street

Situated just off James Reckitt Avenue, Upton Street was most likely named after Edward Upton, who married the Mary, the daughter of Sir James Reckitt.

Vane Street

Named after Sir Henry Vane, 17th century M.P. for Hull who was on the side of parliament during the English Civil War, as Treasurer of the Navy. He was executed in 1662 for high treason. 

Engraving of Sir Henry Vane (17th century) [Ref: Lp.920 VAN/1]

Waverley Street

Heavily built up today, Waverley Street is alleged to have a more sinister history. The lane led from Love Lane (now Cogan Street) to fields that existed at each side. It was also said to have been known as Gallows Lane due to the towns gallows being located there. In 1644 during the Second Siege of Hull, Royalist are said to have approached the town from the west and got within a quarter of a mile of its walls near the gallows. Today, the former gallows site is located between what is now William Street and the Hessle Road section of the A63.


It is difficult to ascertain how Wincolmee acquired its name. It is was said to have derived its name when an alehouse keeper, Mrs. Read, would amuse those that frequented with stories, winking at the same time hence she acquired the name of Wink-and-lie or Wink-and-lee. Her house was said have become noted through the town and county, which overtime gave its name to the road in which the alehouse once stood. A great story, but sadly, this is a Wink-a-lie. 


Probably named after Henry Witham, a property owner in the area. It was originally known as Blockhouse Lane, presumably after the North Blockhouse which stood at the junction of Great Union Street, New Cleveland Street and Witham. Witham was an important coaching route, hence the reason for the large number on inns that once existed. 

Witham, showing Old Windmill Inn, 1800s [Ref: Lp.9.7 WIT/1]

York Street & Swann Street (Wincolmee)

Laid out in 1816, York Street was named after John Swann of York, who had property on the street.

A property had existed on what is now Swann Street since 1746. Benjamin Blades, a former Mayor of Hull left this street to his presumably loyal and close trustee, to which it was named as a compliment to him.

View of Swann Street and York Street, c.1930s Hull Corporation Health Department photographs [Ref: L 501]

Zetland Street

It is Hull’s only street beginning with the letter ‘Z’, and the smallest of all the streets in this two part blog. Its history is fairly inconspicuous. It was laid out with its properties built around the beginning of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, we know nothing as to its naming. 

Neil Chadwick, Project Officer (Unlocking the Treasures) 

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

The Streets of Hull: their names and history, part 1

Ever wondered how a street got its name? In this first of a two-part blog, the Unlocking the Treasures team look at the history of some of Hull’s streets, some well-known, others perhaps no so, and how they acquired their names. We have used a number of sources to track down this information to reveal their history, all of which is accessible in Hull’s Local Studies Library at the Hull History Centre. These include maps, photographs and notably John Markham’s Streets of Hull: A history of their names [Ref: L.9.7] and J Richardson’s, History of the streets of Hull [Ref: L9.7]. In this first part we look at streets A-K.

Air Street, Sculcoates

Dating from the late 18th century, this street, in the parish of Sculcoates took its name from its open airy (or rural) location, which as the time was still a rural parish, yet to be swallowed up by Hull.

Air Street and Sculcoates Lane from Goodwill & Lawson’s plan of Hull (1869). Note its rural-ness with a distinct lack of development compared with today 

Blackfriargate, Hull’s Old Town

Its name derives from the Augustinian Friary which was founded at the beginning of the 14th century, whose members wore black habits. Prior to this it was known as Monkgate.

Illustration of east view of St. Augustine’s monastery, Blackfriargate (1789) [Ref: Lp.271.2/3] 

Brook Street

Its name possibly derives from a brook that was once in the area, fed by the Spring Dyke which once flowed along Prospect Street. Brook Street was the birth place of Sir John Hall (c.1824) who went on to become Prime Minister of New Zealand (1879-1882).

Carr Lane

Today Carr Lane is home to shops and business. But going back to the mid-18th century it was a very different picture. A painting once hung on the wall of the White Horse public house presents us a rural view, on which an earlier public house once stood on the same site as the present. Carr lane gets its name as it led to the carr lands to the west of Hull. This wet and boggy area was common in this low-lying area which suffered from repeated flooding. Carr derives from Old Norse which means ‘marsh’.

Castle Street

Many of us have escaped improvements being made to Castle Street. However, it was not always known by this name. Its current name is taken from George Castle, a 19th century builder. It was originally Burford Street, after the Earl of Burford, a M.P. for Hull (1790-6).

Carr Lane (top left) and Burford Street (below Carr Lane) from Hargrave’s 1791 plan of Hull

Division Road

An important historical dividing line, Division Road gets its name dividing the western boundary of the Manor of Myton and the eastern boundary of Wold Ings.


Today Division Road follows the boundary line shown on this map from Anlaby Toll Bar to Dairy Coates Toll Bar (left)

Eggington Street

A development of Hull’s Georgian suburbs, which was outside the boundaries of the then town. It was built on the site of Richardson’s Gardens and named after the Eggington family, who were prominent Hull merchants, involved in the whaling and seed crushing industries.

Fountain Road

Named after Alderman John Fountain who was a prominent member of Hull’s Town Council in the 19th century. He was also governor of the poor for the parishes of St. Mary’s and Holy Trinity. His grave in Spring Bank cemetery is surrounded by those that he spent much of his life helping.  

Great Union Street

An early 19th century street named ‘Great’ to distinguish it from other ‘Union’ streets, the road follows the line called the ‘Causeway’ which led from the North Blockhouse to the Garrison.

Great Union Street follows the line from the North Blockhouse to the Hamlet of Dyrpool as shown here on Hollar’s Plan of Hull (1640)

High Street (Old Town)

Hull’s most historic street was originally ‘Hull Street’ which developed alongside the River Hull. Archaeological evidence suggests High Street much closer the river due to land on the east side of High Street being reclaimed from what was then, a much wider river course. Today Alfred Gelder Street intersects its north end, splitting High Street effectively in two (the north side of High Street is unofficially known as Little High Street). For centuries High Street was very much the central hub of Hull’s economy. Grand houses and warehouse aligned the street. Wilberforce House, Bladyes House and Maister House can still be seen today. The former Pease warehouse is now residential apartments. Alongside this wealth were some of Hull’s poorest. Places like Bluebell Entry on its south side saw families live in cramped, unsanitary and poor housing, which existed from the late 18th century through to the 1930s. 

Drawing by T.T. Wildridge (1884) of High Street showing the George & Dragon Inn (left) and de la Pole House [Ref: Lp.728.8 DEL/3] 

Inglemire Lane

Inglemire Lane in old English means ‘leech-pool lane’, and over time the spelling of the name has altered to what see today, with the use of Ingle for a ‘nook’.

Jameson Street & King Edward Street

Named after Robert Jameson at the beginning of the 20th century. Jameson was a major figure in developing Hull’s town centre. It was initially proposed be called ‘Jameson Avenue’.

Cutting through Jameson Street is King Edward Street, which along with Jameson Street was developed at the beginning of the 20th century. The street bares it name from King Edward VII whose reign coincided with its development. 

Jameson Street c.1930s from the Renton Heathcote collection [Ref: L RH/1/182]

King Edward Street (c.1930) from the Renton Heathcote collection [Ref: L RH/1/184]

Kingston Square

Based on the London style square, Kingston Square was laid out in the early 19th century. Its garden, now a place for relaxation for many that live and work close by was originally known as Jarratt Square, after the Rev. Robert Jarratt. Its present name is presumably taken from Hull’s full title ‘Kingston upon Hull’. In Victorian and Edwardian Hull the square was a fashionable address. The premises of Madame Clapham was situated here, while the Assembly Rooms (now the site of Hull new Theatre) was at one point the centre of social life in Hull.

Watch out for part two which will look at streets L-Z.

Neil Chadwick, Project Officer, (Unlocking the Treasures) 

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Arthur Neville Cooper – “The Walking Parson”

Canon Arthur Neville Cooper – known as “The Walking Parson” – first came to my attention when looking at “Quaint Talks about Long Walks” [Ref: L.001 COO]. I didn’t appreciate what an intriguing and engaging character he must have been until I spotted a potted biography of “The Walking Parson” in a book entitled “From East Riding Yesterday” [Ref: L9.5] by Mave and Ben Chapman and this lead me to delve deeper into his life.

Arthur Neville Cooper was born in 1850 in Windsor and attended a London boarding school where there were strict regimes and poor diet which he later said ‘served to strengthen his spirit’. He began life in the Inland Revenue in London which was poorly paid and being unable to afford the bus, he took to walking the four miles to and from his lodgings to place of work. He later attributes his love of walking to this time.

He then studied at Oxford University, obtaining his Batchelor of Arts in 1876 and his Master of Arts a year later. He entered the Ministry, with his first posting being curate for Chester le Street, County Durham.  In 1880, he was sent to St. Oswald’s, Filey and became an instant celebrity with his trademark frock coat, breeches, black hat and knapsack.  Filey was a far-flung parish so it was not unusual for him to walk 30 miles a day, recording his adventures in a notebook. 

Photograph of Arthur Neville Cooper

In 1891, he married a local girl, Maude Nicholson.  She seems like a very remarkable woman in her own right and very supportive of her husband in his walking adventure which became even further far-flung than jaunts around the Yorkshire countryside!  He would wait until after the Easter services before setting off – journeys included going to Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Lourdes, Budapest, Hamburg, Dublin and Iceland.  His obituary noted that he had walked every county of Europe except Russia.  He recorded his adventures in a series of books – “Quaint Talks about Long Walks”, “The Tramps of the Walking Parson” and “A Tramp’s Schooling”. On his adventures, his only luggage was a small knapsack containing a change of underwear and his bible.

A N Cooper was described as a generous man but, apparently, was an eager convert to the Yorkshire Creed of “eating all, supping all and paying nowt”, warming to the idea of enjoying the hospitality of what he termed ‘Open houses’; he was a raconteur with a love of good company and was equally at home in the company of fisherman and farmers as well as country landowners such as the Sykes family of Sledmere.  I am sure he was a very popular guest with many interesting and amusing stories to tell of his walking trips. 

He served as Station Master at Hunmanby during the First World War and acted as Secretary of the East Riding Antiquarian Society for over twenty years. He also was devoted to his church work and raised large sums of money for the widows of the forty Filey men lost in the gales in 1880.  He also solicited funds for the restoration of his church, St Oswald’s and the building of the Church of England Infant School.  In his time at Filey, he secured over £24,000 for charitable, educational and church purposes which, for the time, is an extraordinary amount of money.  His walking adventures only took place during his holidays.

Front cover of The Walking Parson [Ref: L.001 COO]

Canon Cooper seems to have embraced life to the full and appeared not to take himself too seriously.  His book “Filey and its Church” [Ref: L9.54F] contains the following preface in the second edition – “An author pays himself but a poor compliment who confesses the first edition of his work was so full of mistakes that he has been obliged to re-write a large part of the second. But in a very wise book of old time, we read that Truth is not only stronger than kings and wine, but than woman even. So the truth must be told, cost the author what will”.

He served at Filey’s St. Oswald’s Church from 1880 until 1935, when he decided reluctantly to retire due to failing eyesight and saddened by the fact he could no longer read the Bible. On his retirement he decided to move from Filey to Scarborough “as it wouldn’t be fair to the next man. I want to give him a clear field”.  This demonstrates what a thoughtful and caring man he seems to have been. He put down his great health to “taking a cold bath every morning” and all his walking – “the man who walks is the man who is well”.  His sage advice on walking is “I have learnt that there is one way to walk without trouble: that is to pour whisky in your boots”! 

The Walking Parson” died in 1943 and there is a memorial plaque to this remarkable man by the altar of St Oswald’s Church, Filey to commemorate this special incumbent who served them for over 55 years.

Caoimhe West, Reader Assistant, Unlocking the Treasures Project 

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

The University of Hull in Pictures

Whilst the success of an organisation lies in the collective contribution of its members, to tell the story of our university’s history we must start with one man….

On 2 February 1925, local philanthropist and entrepreneur Thomas Robinson Ferens held a lunch for a group of Hull’s leading civic figures at his home. During the lunch, he announced his intention of providing a financial gift to establish a university in Hull. He confirmed his intention in a letter written the same day to the Lord Mayor of Hull, Councillor A.D. Willoughby: 

Holderness House

Hull, Feb. 2nd 1925.

My dear Lord Mayor,

The need of provision for higher learning in Hull, has greatly impressed me, and I have taken the opportunity of consulting University Professors and other friends, in regard to the matter, and I have decided to set aside for the purpose of forming a nucleus of a University College for Hull the sum of £250,000.

Very shortly I am going from home for a few weeks and on my return I propose calling together a few local friends interested in education to formulate plans. 

With kind regards

I am 

Sincerely yours

Thos. R. Ferens

With this gift (and much subsequent hard work by many), a longstanding civic desire to establish a university in the city was to become a real possibility. Just three years later, on 11 October 1928, the first staff and students arrived at the Cottingham Road campus and the University College of Hull was born.

Unfortunately, we don’t know if Ferens’ letter to Willoughby survives today. It was still in existence in the 1970s when T.W. Bamford wrote an institutional history of the university, but the author gives no indication in his book as to how he came by the letter.  

Fortunately, we have plenty of surviving material within the university’s own archives, preserved at Hull History Centre, which can help tell the rest of the story.

Minutes of first meeting of the Organising Board appointed to arrange for the establishment of the University College of Hull, 1925 [U REG/2/1]

Chief among this treasure trove of material is an original photograph album, stuffed full of fantastic early photographs, dating right back to the early years of the then University College of Hull in the 1920s and 1930s.

What follows is an informal history in pictures of the first years of our university…

In addition to providing £250,000, Ferens purchased three fields, comprising 18.756 acres in total. He donated the land to the Hull Corporation, intending that the Corporation would then grant the land to the Organising Board, which had been appointed to establish a University College in Hull. After some negotiations, and a few issues with the Board of Education, the transfer of land took place in October 1927. But by this time construction work had already begun on the Cottingham Road site.

Aerial photograph, c.1927, marked up to show the outline of land to be used to construct a university campus [U PHO/Album]

The first pile had driven over a month earlier, during a ceremony held on the 24 August 1927 and led by the wife of Arthur Eustace Morgan, who would be the first Principal of the University College of Hull. Eight months later, the foundation stone was laid during a very prestigious ceremony. Those in attendance included the Archbishop of York, the Duchess of York, T.R. Ferens as the first President, the Duke of York (Prince Albert, later George VI), and Principal Morgan. The Duke of York did the honour of laying the foundation stone.

University College of Hull foundation stone laying ceremony, held 28 April 1928 [U PHO/Album]

The Duke of York laying the foundation stone, 28 April 1928 [U PHO/Album]

Only two buildings existed on the campus site when the University College of Hull opened to students on 11 October 1928. The Science Block (now known and the Cohen Building) and the Arts Block (now known as the Venn Building). The two buildings were designed by W.A. Forsyth and Partners in the Neo-Georgian style, and would later be categorized as a group of architectural significance by Historic England and given Grade II listed status.

The Science Building (now known as Cohen) under construction in 1928 [U PHO/Album]

The Arts Building (now known as Venn) following completion in 1928 [U PHO/Album]

However, two further buildings are of importance to the early history of the university. During their initial planning work, members of the Organising Board took the decision that students enrolled at the University College must be resident, unless living at home or unless there were exceptional circumstances. This policy necessitated the provision of halls of residence for students. Northfields (renamed Needler Hall) and Thwaite Hall, both in Cottingham, were purchased for this purpose in early 1928, there being no time or money to construct purpose built halls.

Needler Hall, c.1929 [U PHO/Album]

Thwaite Hall, c.1929 [U PHO/Album]

Male students were housed in Needler Hall, whilst Thwaite Hall was used to house female students. A warden was appointed to live at each of the halls of residence, and it was the job of these wardens to oversee the running of the buildings and the welfare of the students living there.

Needler Hall dining room, c.1929 [U PHO/Album]

The common room at Thwaite Hall, c.1929 [U PHO/Album]

In 1927, upon hearing that the University of Leeds wished to cease law training in Hull, the Yorkshire Board of Legal Studies approached the Organising Board to ask if the University College would take over law training in the city. Grants were secured to appoint a lecturer in Law, and James Louis Montrose took up post on the 1 October 1927. A Legal Studies course started on the 20 October 1927, and was taught in the Law Society Hall and in the Guildhall. This represents the University College’s first functioning department and course.

Guildhall in the 1920s, used by the first students of the University College of Hull [U DX336/34/4]

Around the same time, the Workers Educational Association approached the Organising Board and asked for the appointment of a tutor so that Adult Education classes could begin as soon as possible. The Organising Board appointed Professor T.H. Searls who took up post on the 1 January 1928.

Workers Educational Association Rally, some of the visitors at the College, June 1928 [U PHO/Album]

The Department of Adult Education was one of the major successes in the early years of the University College. The department operated extra-mural courses in the local area and across the wider Yorkshire region.

Extra Mural Students’ Rally, 1929 [U PHO/Album]

On the 6 October 1928, administrative staff, who had been operating out of Maritime Buildings in the centre of the city, became the first members of staff to move to the University College site on Cottingham Road. 

They were followed on the 11 October 1928 by sixteen members of academic staff (including the Principal who served as a professor of English), two assistant teaching staff members, and around 39 students.

Academic staff and students with Principal Morgan at the centre of the group, 1928 [U PHO/Album]

The group was representative of fourteen academic departments in total, these being Adult Education, Botany, Chemistry, Classics, English, French, Geography, German, History, Law, Mathematics, Philosophy and Psychology, Physics, and Zoology.

Zoology lab, c.1929 [U PHO/Album]

Advanced Physics lab, c.1929 [U PHO/Album]

Zoology lecture theatre, c.1929 [U PHO/Album]

Fisheries lab, c.1929 [U PHO/Album]

Geography room, c.1929 [U PHO/Album]

The official opening of the university took place a full year after the first students and staff arrived on campus. Present at the ceremony were Principal Morgan, Thomas R. Ferens, H.R.H. Prince George (later the Duke of Kent), and Benno Pearlman in his role as the Lord Mayor of Hull.

Official Opening of the University College of Hull, 10 October 1929 [U PHO/Album]

And so the University of Hull was born. Next followed a period of slow though steady expansion. The University College welcomed further local students from the city of Hull and the wider region.

Staff and students, June 1935 [U PHO/Album]

Noteworthy guests came to speak to the students...

Students, Lt Comm Kenworthy and Mr Arthur Henderson (Foreign Secretary) [U PHO/Album]

Students waiting for Henderson to arrive, 1933 [U PHO/Album]

Sports teams were formed...

The University College Association Football Team, 1929 [U PHO/Album]

And an active dramatic society was established.

Early members of the Dramatic Society, 1930 [U PHO/Album]

University College Hull was off to a galloping start!

Claire Weatherall (Archivist, Hull University Archives)