Paul Gibson’s Hull and East Yorkshire History


We tend to look straight ahead don't we? Never looking up or down too much as we walk around - that's if we walk at all - more often than not we drive these days. But if you do look up, or down its amazing what you can find. Echoes from the past are all around us. Here are a few things I've noticed on my travels.

This is a small cast-iron cover set over what must have been an inspection hatch of one of the pipes of the Hull Hydraulic Power Company - hence the initials. The company was formed in 1877, and continued into the 20th Century, and was the first public power system in Britain. This water power was used to power cranes on the docks, lift bridges over the River Hull, power mills - all sorts.

Several of these little things survive, as well as some of the company's buildings - look them up - you'll be amazed at what we've done in Hull.

As Hull expanded beyond the confines of the Old Town in the 19th Century, many local land-owning families sold off their lands close to Hull. New housing and industry made them their fortunes all over again, and some boundary stones such as this still exist, marking the extent of the particular land ownership.

No - not Hull Brewery, but Hewitt Brothers Ltd of Grimsby, etched on a side window of the Rose Hotel at Stepney (Beverley Road - not London). Long gone now sadly, as it was lost in a renovation in the 1990s I think - or was it just smashed - I can't remember?

Hewitt's were a Grimsby brewery that had several pubs in Hull, and were a long-established company dating back to c.1800. By the 1960s they had 320 pubs around Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, but fell to the Big-Six national take-overs and were closed in 1968.

Lots of Hull pubs had old local brewery details like this, but most have been removed by the rubbish national companies that took them over.

Another Hewitt's Brewery detail, a rain-water head, on a west Hull pub.

This one has gone now I believe (I don't have it so don't look at me)

This detail, a wonderful tiled panel from a Victorian pub frontage in West Hull, shows how even the local breweries (the Hull Brewery in this case) cared about their image. It still survives miraculously.

Another Hull brewery that leaves its mark to this day - despite having closed in the 1960s - in this roof detail on one of their former offices.

M&R didn't succumb to the Big-Six directly, but were taken over by Hewitt's in 1960 in a merger that struggled vainly to fight the might of the larger groups. Both failed sadly, and were bought by United breweries (itself a merger of smaller breweries) in 1961.

I fear for the future of this however, as its slowly being crowded out by 'designer' flats.

Compare this 1960s mozaic panel - also from the Hull Brewery - to the quality of that one shown above. It too survives on an estate pub in the parish of Cottingham.

I'm not sure when we stopped using the Telegraph/Telegram as a means of communication, but this inspection cover must be a rare survivor.

Located on the Beverley Road, it's narrowly avoided several road-widening schemes as I suspect is still in use for other purposes - possibly owned by KC?

There used to be literally hundreds of these carved details, surviving on shop fronts all over Hull. Sadly most have been lost and replaced with boring plastic, or laminate name boards over the years, or stolen by local architectural 'antiques dealers', often ending up in their shops on Spring Bank and the Beverley Road, or at fairs in Newark and such.

This one's still there however.

I've watched the demolition of several old mills along Wincolmlee, and saved little bits as reminders where I could, but this bit wouldn't fit in the boot of my car as it weighed about 250 kilos.

Its a stone detail that sat over a large door into an early 19th Century mill-warehouse on the river side, latterly hidden by a modern name-board. It just went in a skip in February 2005, and was crushed for hard-core with the rest.

The council will have to be careful along this River Hull Corridor Development Area, or whatever its called this week, as there are now very few original warehouses left. We wouldn't want them all to be demolished - leaving no examples for future generations now would we?

Hull had its own banks at one time, but gradually many out of town banks opened branches here too. If you keep your eyes tuned in, you can still see evidence of their existence in some places.

The York City & County Banking Company was established in 1830, but this stone remains on a Hull building to this day. This branch opened in Hull c.1894 and continued as a bank, latterly owned by the Midland, until the 1980s I think.

I'm not sure what these are - at first I thought ventilation pipes for drains or sewers. I now think - and I'm fairly sure I'm right - that they are ventilators for old electricity cables, which were prone to over-heating in the early days of our electricity supply.

This one is in Sutton, but many survive in the Kirkella, Willerby and Hessle area too.

There's a pir of these near where we walk our dog - they once stood on top of the original Hammond's (Binns) Store in Jameson Street. 

Following Blitz damage during the Second World War the store was demolished, but these stone details were saved by one of the family that took over the old Hammond's business in the late 19th Century. Powell & Co acquired Hammond's, who had traded in Hull since the early 1800s, and continued to trade as Hammond's. A descendant of the Powell family lived in one of Cottingham's larger houses, and these ornaments now stand at the gates of another large house nearby.

Once upon a time, if a company or a local council were building a new office, park or cemetery, the exterior fences and gates would be given the same quality details as the building itself. The Hull General Cemetery Company, formed in 1845, and their cemetery buildings were designed by quality local architects such as Cuthbert Broderick, who designed the old town hall, and existing town hall in Leeds.

This small angel detail at the top of a gate post was an extra cost that the designer thought worthwhile in a place where people went to pay their respects and lay loved ones to rest.

At the bottom of the same pillar is what could be a demon I guess - balancing the angel above it. The details survive, with several others, today. However they were nearly lost when the gates, pillars, and all other cemetery buildings were removed for the widening of Prince's Avenue, and the construction of the shops that now stand there. Fortunately, one pair of gates and pillars were saved, and moved to their present site further west in the same cemetery.

Fortunately, when Hull College took over the site of the former Hull & Barnsley Railway's Cannon Street goods station recently, they did agree to save the old gates, which feature their initials.

Initial plans for the station were for it to be behind the company's offices in Charlotte Street (now George Street - along from the YPI), which would have meant an even earlier destruction of the property to the south of the site. anyway, the plan was never approved and the station was built in Cannon Street.

The station closed to passengers in 1924, and was mostly demolished in 1954, although remained a goods station until 1968.

Porter Street isn't the most upmarket of places these days, but it has this rare surviving piece of architectural heritage.

You'd probably expect an original Victorian Pillar Box to be in the Old Town somewhere, but this has survived courtesy of its continued usage by the GPO, or whatever they're called these days.

It was sited here in the 1880s I think - possibly for Victoria's Golden Jubilee, and is a 'VR type B' box I think - some postal expert will correct me I'm sure.

Most people walk past this ornate Elizabethan style pillar at the side of the Beverley Road without a second glance I suppose. It is one of few remaining details of a building set back from the road that was built in 1836.

The Kingston College was a Church of England proprietary school, that closed in 1847 and was purchased by Trinity House in 1851 and adapted as one of their many almshouses. More recent times have seen the whole frontage torn apart, and it is now home to the Kingston Youth Centre. Part of the frontage has been rebuilt in poor quality, and the other part is a big tin shed.

Three of the pillars remain, two of them much further north, showing the original extent of the college/church's property. The Royal British Legion building in the background, was one of several private houses built in the 'college gardens' c.1840, and known as Kingston Cottage.

This is a pillar on one of Hull's many, many bridges. This one is situated on a bridge over one of the many field drains that were cut across Hull in the late 18th Century, running across Cottingham and into Sculcoates mostly, and on to their outfall into the River Hull.

This one dated 1889, replaced older wooden structures that were not up to scratch when 'Egginton's Lane' (look it up) was adapted as part of Fountain Road during town improvement schemes in the 1880s. Some joker painted the three coronets gold in an unusually fitting act of graffiti recently - you've got to laugh.

This fantastic construction, of solid cast-iron, would no doubt have been made of brick or concrete if it had been built recently.

However, in the Victorian age when this was built - and its huge trust me - they had a little more style. Its classical design is marked 'Cottingham Waterworks Extension A Shaft', and its a bugger to find, but worth it when you come upon it. 

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