Paul Gibson’s Hull and East Yorkshire History

Wellington Inn - the story of a beer house


The Wellington Inn at the corner of Russell Street and Marlborough Terrace is historically situated in the parish of East Sculcoates. This section of the parish was rapidly developed, mostly during the 1840s, as Hull’s increasing population caused new suburbs to be built north of the Georgian new town area. Wilkinson’s plan of Hull made in 1848 shows new streets being developed on a parcel of land belonging to George Liddell Esquire, stretching from Beverley Road, over the Cottingham Drain, and as far east as the end of Cannon Street. The main street running west to east through the development was named Liddell Street after the owner, and a section of this street at the Beverley Road end was later named Norfolk Street. Other streets in this development were Marlborough Terrace, Rutland Terrace, and the north end of Russell Street. Russell Street had begun as part of another development centered around Pryme Street, on the land of George Pryme, who was MP for Cambridgeshire but owned several parcels of land in the area. Russell Street was named as a tribute to Lord John Russell, a leader of electoral reform who was supported by George Pryme.

The majority of Pryme’s plot north of Marlborough Terrace was built upon during the 1840s and 1850s. The 1853-56 Ordnance Survey plan shows that the site at the corner of Russell Street and Marlborough Terrace was still not developed at that date, with no houses built on the west side of Russell Street north of Marlborough Terrace; although the east side was built up between Marlborough Terrace and Liddell Street (later Norfolk Street). The photograph above is taken from the Health Department Collection held by Hull Local Studies Library and shows Marlborough Terrace viewed from the Beverley Road end looking east (image reference no.1046).

A New Pub

A new corner property, possibly purpose built as a beer house, was constructed circa 1860 at the corner of Russell Street and Marlborough Terrace. It was not listed in White’s 1858 Hull trade directory, but the 1861 Census recorded Charles Thornton aged 39 years (born in Huddersfield) as a Beer House Keeper at no.1 Russell Street along with his wife Jane Thornton, aged 32 years (born in Patrington) and Mother in Law Mary Boyes (also born in Patrington). Interestingly Mary Boyes occupation was noted as Inn Keeper in the Census as she had been the landlord of the Black Swan Inn in Mytongate in 1855, where in the same year Charles Thornton had been the landlord of the Wellington Inn at the corner of Mytongate just yards away. Charles was listed in the Brewster Sessions in January 1855 when the licence of the Wellington Hotel Mytongate was transferred from Henry Summers to Charles’ name. Obviously Charles had met Mary’s daughter in Mytongate at some point and married her. Their new life together involved them taking the name of Charles’ old pub to a new venture in Russell Street, which they named the Wellington Tavern.

The 1853 Ordnance Survey plan shown above right, illustrates the as yet undeveloped area around the site of the Wellington Inn; only the east side of Russell Street is built upon, and no properties on Norfolk Street or Liddell Street.

The Brewster Sessions of August 1862 recorded Charles applying for a new licence ‘for a house now known as the Wellington Tavern’. In the following year’s Brewster Sessions Charles applied for a Spirits Licence for the pub, but that was refused. The pub only received its first full seven-day licence in 1922 when the licence of the Pioneer in Bishop Lane was transferred here following its closure.

The first trade directory reference for the pub is in Wright’s directory of 1863 when Charles Thornton was listed at the Wellington Tavern in the beer retailers’ section. As the area became fully built-up around the Wellington in the late 1850s and early 1860s the pub is recorded as many different numbers in Russell Street (1, 20, 56, 55 and 56) and even sometimes as Marlborough Terrace, but this merely reflects the development of the street and illustrates the difficulties of giving a precise historical address for any corner property. The wall of the Wellington Inn can just be seen to the right of this photograph, which is another taken from the Health Department Collection made in the 1930s (picture reference no.305).


More recently a Mansfield Brewery pub, it had latterly been a Hull Brewery house and was listed as a fully licensed freehold house ‘late Willford & Co’ in a breakdown of the Hull Brewery Co’s assets in 1890. It was valued at £4,000 at that time. Willford’s had previously owned many pubs, including the Wellington, and many in the Hessle Road area including the Alexandra, the Criterion, the Star and Garter, the Vauxhall Tavern and the Halfway Hotel, which was the headquarters of the company. Other pubs owned by the company included the Rose and Crown in West Street, the Beverley Arms in Spencer Street and the Golden Ball in Air Street. Wilford’s, later Wilford & McBride, were wine & spirit merchants predominantly and the Hull Brewery retained the Wilford & McBride name for their wine & spirits operations.


The Wellington was one of many pubs that opened as this area was developed from fields and built upon with the typical small streets and even smaller courts and terraces. Within spitting distance was the Horns Tavern across the other side of Marlborough Terrace, a beer-house converted from a newly built dwelling house c.1855 by James Middleton. This was a Moors’ & Robson’s house for most of its life, certainly from 1913 onwards, and closed in February 1939 during a wave of slum clearance in this area and its licence was transferred to the 'new' Lambwath pub on Sutton Road. (see photo and location marked H on the 1908 map below.

This poor 1930s image is an enlarged detail from a much larger photograph in the Health Department collection held by Hull Local Studies Library. It shows the Horn's Tavern as seen from the entrance to Blenheim Terrace, one of the many courts that ran from Marlborough Terrace through to Norfolk Street (Hull History services reference no.652).

In Norfolk Street was the Dover Castle although the original address of this beer-house at the corner of Russell Place was no.1 Liddell Street, which originally began at this point and ran east to its junction with St. Paul's Street, but was re-numbered as no.39 Norfolk Street. It was not shown on Wilkinson's plan of Hull in 1848 but the first landlord was almost certainly John Baker Lording, who was listed as a joiner and beer-house keeper in an 1851 trade directory and was arrested and charged with keeping a disorderly public house in March 1852. The Hull packet reported ‘Police constable 71 stated that in passing the house about ten minutes before ten he heard a great noise and on entering found a number of persons playing cards. Considering this to be illegal he took the prisoner into custody. Mr Greaves, who appeared for the defence stated that he could produce witnesses to prove that they were simply playing a game or tow at blind all fours without any money whatever being staked. There being no evidence to the contrary, the case was dismissed’.

By 1863 the boundary of Liddell Street had been re-assigned further east and the Dover Castle's new address became no.39 Norfolk Street. In a breakdown of the Hull Brewery Co.'s assets in 1890 the pub was valued at £3,600 and was obviously a busy house. A popular pub too, and one that retained its original name throughout its life, it survived into the 1970s when it was demolished under a compulsory purchase order circa 1972-73. The photograph above is from the 1950s and the location of the pub is marked D on the 1908 map below.

Just a few doors to the east of the Dover Castle was the Norfolk Arms, a Moors’ & Robson’s beer-house which its origins as a grocer’s shop. In 1871 grocer and beer retailer James Dresser transferred his retailer's licence to Thomas Turner, according to the licensing sessions held that May; James Dresser had been listed as a beer retailer in trade directories since at least 1863, which gives an earliest date for the pub’s origins. However it was not noted by name until later in the century, latterly no.47-48 Norfolk Street the pub only received its first full licence in 1961. I haven't come across a photograph of the Norfolk Arms but it can just be seen on the right of this 1930s photograph looking west along Norfolk Street from the Cottingham Drain bridge. Its location is marked N on the 1908 map below.

Across the road, at the corner of Liddell Street and Richmond Terrace was the Mechanics Arms, another of the early beer-houses to open in the streets laid out on the lands of George Liddell. Built between 1856 and 1863 it had been a grocer and provisions dealers, but a new beer-house licence was applied for on Thursday 21st August 1862, and in 1863 Martha Turner-Ware was listed as a beer retailer at No.41 Liddell Street, at the corner of Richmond Terrace. The Mechanics' name was probably a reference to the nearby foundries such as Rose's iron foundry in Cannon Street and the brass foundry in Russell Street. The beautiful glazed tile frontage of the building included diamond shaped panels, each of which contained a hand painted representation of the various mechanics skills. Originally a Worthington’s house, with a six-day beer house licence, it received its first full seven-day licence in 1962. Sadly the Mechanics' and much of the area around the Wellington Inn (including my birth-place at 33 Richmond Terrace just around the bend) was demolished ten years later, circa 1972-3. The photograph shows the pub in the 1950s, and its location is marked M on the 1908 map below.

Little was left in the way of competition for the Wellington following the 1967-72 slum clearance except for Robson’s Arms in Francis Street West that closed c.1970, and a few pubs on Charles Street and Waterloo Street that were also demolished very soon after. Only one original pub survives from these in 2009 - the County Hotel on Charles Street. 

This section of the 1908 Ordnance Survey plan shows all of the pubs mentioned as well as the old 'Ragged School' at the east end of Marlborough Terrace and the Moors' & Robson's brewery on the right in Raywell Street. The Cottingham Drain can also be seen crossing the top right of the plan alongside the Mechanics Arms. The Wellington Inn is almost the only surviving property 100 years on.


The pub’s name was no doubt in tribute to Field Marshall Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), and fourth son of Garrett Wellesley, first Earl of Mornington. Following his successes in the Peninsular War (1808-14) he was created Duke of Wellington in 1814. Wellington College, for the education of officers sons, was founded as a memorial to him and opened in 1859 and there were other pubs (for example the Duke of Wellington in Peel Street) and streets (Wellington Lane) named after the Duke who died in 1852. This was not long before the Wellington Inn first appeared and Wellington was a very popular figure after the Battle of Waterloo and it has been suggested that his popularity with beer drinkers, and the adoption of his name by a number of pubs, stems from his proposal of the Beer Act in 1830 (intended to rid the country of the so called Gin problem). It was this act in its amended form of 1867, which gave many pubs their first beer-only licence.The photograph here shows the Wellington, still unchanged, in the 1950s.

Until the plans can be checked when the Hull History Centre opens later this year, it is my guess that the Wellington was re-fronted before the First World War. It is also possible that the pub was rebuilt at some point, but this is unlikely for such a low-income back-street pub. Again, until plans can be consulted, the only evidence we have is the 1889 Ordnance Survey plans, which show that the chamfered corner, at an angle to the other walls, was in place by the time the plan was made. The brickwork of the pub frontage is similar to that of other re-fronts of the 20th Century however, and I will stand by my assumption that the pub was merely re-fronted and not re-built until any new evidence appears. The Kingston Hotel in Cumberland Street shares many design features and architectural details - the Gothic door panelling, the raised brewery and pub name lettering, the upstairs window design and the in-fill material and type of brick; the Kingston was I believe re-fronted in 1914, which may be a good date for the Wellington's make-over too. The photograph above shows the Wellington in 1926 and its frontage is looking shabby by that date, suggesting it had been done some time - compare it with the Kingston Hotel photo (right) taken in the same year.


The Wellington is a true survivor in an area that has seen many and varied assaults over the years. Several properties declared to be unfit for human habitation in the courts leading off Marlborough Terrace were demolished during the late 1920s, including several of the houses fronting the main streets - some with wooden frontages (see photo). During the Blitz of the Second World War almost all of the remaining properties between Marlborough Terrace and Norfolk Street were destroyed or damaged beyond repair, and an aerial photograph made by the RAF in 1946 shows the devastation in the area (see right). In the whole block just the houses of Russell Street survived, and a few buildings near the Beverley Road end including the old Police Station that is now The Lamp pub/club. A further threat of demolition came in the late 1970s when a path was being cleared for Freetown Way – Hull’s North Orbital Road. A path much wider than was actually needed was cleared, that took out many historic properties in the Charles Street area, but the Wellington survived probably due to the fact that ‘new’ housing existed in Marlborough Terrace that had been built following the war. The three-storey flats that survive today may have been the only thing that saved the Wellington from demolition.


Fortunately the Wellington is now in good hands, as the experienced owners Richard and Janette Gant, who bought the property in July 2004 have rejuvenated the pub without falling into the many traps that have hastened the demise of other pubs in the area. By refusing to have gaming machines, pool tables, huge televisions and jukeboxes they have created what is one of very few ‘drinkers’ pubs in Hull. Their continued efforts have seen them quite rightly secure CAMRA awards for best real ale pub of the Year in 2005, 2006, joint winners in 2007 and winners again in 2008. The pub boasts Hull’s only walk in beer-chiller and specialises in bottled beers from around the world - usually holding a stock of around 150 different beers. As well as this it hosts monthly folk music sessions and regular live music and quiz nights. The unchanged exterior is shown here in my photographs made on 1st September 2009.

Speaking personally, I believe its true attraction is the hand-pumped real ale, which is usually kept to perfection and the choice is second to none, not just in Hull but in the surrounding area too. I wish continued good trade and success to the Wellington and not just because you can see where I was born out of the window - Cheers!

Update - On 31st July 2011 the wellington Inn Brewery officially served its first brew. Richard had put in months of work and trainig that resulted in several brews under his own roof (well a small adjoining building anyway). Since then it has gone from strenth to strength and he has many more succesfull brews under his belt. (PG April 2013).

Update - Richard and Janette called it a day at the Wellington in the summer of 2014 and took early retirement. At the present time (August 2014) the Wellington is up for sale.

Here is a list of the various licensed victuallers that have been at the Wellington over the years: -

1861-63 Charles Thornton, Wellington Tavern beer house No.1 Russell Street

1867-76 C Thornton, Wellington Tavern, No.56 Russell Street

1879-92 Joseph William Alcock

1895-1905 Ann Elizabeth Greasley, Wellington Inn, Nos.55 and 56 Russell Street

1906-09 Alfred Ernest Greasley, Wellington Inn, Marlborough Terrace

1910 Mrs Alice Green

1915-30 Charles S Pote

1933 Daniel Livingstone

1936 Henry Goodson

1937-39 John Ellarby

1943 J Ellarby, Wellington Inn, No.55 Russell Street

1954-56 Cyril C Jennison

1960-67 A J Pizzey

1997-?? Pete Smith

2004 - 2014 Richard & Janette Gant, Wellington Inn, 55 Russell Street

© Paul Gibson

March 1997, revised July 2004 and edited for the web August & September 2009


Brief Bibliography & Sources

Hull Packet searchable newspaper resource c/o British Library Online

Forgotten Hull 2. Graham Wilkinson, Kingston Press. Hull, 2000.

Hull Pubs & Breweries. Paul Gibson, Tempus Publishing Ltd. Stroud, 2004 (re-printed 2007).

Barley Mash & Yeast: A History of The Hull Brewery Company 1782-1985. Robert Barnard, Hutton Press Ltd., and Hull College Local History Unit. Cherry Burton, 1990.

Streets of Hull: A History of their Names. John Markham, Highgate Publications (Beverley) Ltd. Beverley, 1987.

Landlord. Graham Wilkinson, unpublished. Hull, 2007.

Lost Pubs of Hull. Paul Gibson & Graham Wilkinson, Kingston Press. Hull, 1999.

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