Paul Gibson’s Hull and East Yorkshire History

St John's Wood, an early Hull Housing Development

St John's Wood

Housing developments are by no means a modern invention, and just as we now have estates advertised such as 'Kingswood' etc., so we had similar developments in the 19th Century as Hull expanded in every direction. The Ordnance Survey plans of Hull surveyed in 1852 (see right) show the Cottingham drain, of circa 1770, running south across Cottingham Road parallel with the line of Newland Tofts Lane (Newland Avenue). At the drain ran south it joined the ancient ‘Setting Dike’, turning east towards the Beverley Road and on to its eventual outfall into the River Hull. A small footbridge linked the north side of the drain with the south, and a rough track known as Princess Bank (later Prince’s Avenue). An old footpath ran east from the footbridge along the north side of the drain to the grounds of ‘Rose Cottage’, a substantial house on the west side of the Beverley Road. No other property was shown along this east – west route at the time of the 1852 survey.

Following the laying out of Pearson Park in 1860 and plans for the new Westbourne Park Estate (the Avenues) in the early 1870s land in this area became more desirable to prospective builders. By the time of the 1861 Census very little property had been built in the area, and nothing was listed in the trade directories until after 1865, however a large development was being planned that was to take in a sizeable plot of land north of what we now know as Queen’s Road. The Hull Times newspaper of 25th June 1864 reported that building had commenced and street-plans were available of the area and the Times later ran an advert stating: - ‘to be sold on credit, beautiful site for villa residence at St John’s Wood - Avenue with frontages to Newland Park’, which was almost certainly an early reference to the developing Newland Avenue.

At the time of the plans the nearest inns in the area would have been Golden Ball and Horseclippers Arms, both in Sculcoates Lane, and the Bull Inn and the Rose Tavern at Stepney. The new estate would soon have its own pubs, but more of that later.

The area of St John’s Wood was shown on a sale-plan of 1864 for Mr James Storey, and stretched from Queen’s Road northwards to the northern side of what is now Lambert Street (then known as Londesborough Street). Beverley Road and Newland Avenue were the boundaries to the east and west respectively. The name Queen’s Road was probably a reference to Queen Victoria who had visited Hull on several occasions around that time. Her husband the late Prince Albert had died in 1861 and this was also probably the reason for the naming of Prince’s Road in 1864 (applications to build the new roads were in the Hull Packet in August 1864). It is difficult today to imagine the huge effect of the monarchy had on the public in general during the second half of the 19th Century. A profusion of hotels, streets, roads and terraces named after the Queen, her Prince and the royal children, appeared at this time. Albert Crescent and Victoria Cottages were later situated off Beaconsfield Street at the east end of Queen’s Road and St Andrews Villas (a favourite royal estate) was off Prince’s Road. 

But why the name St John's Wood? Well, we may never know but it seems likely that it was a reference to the nearest church at that time - St John's Newland, at the corner of Clough Road and Beverley Road (built in 1833). It is also possible that it was taken from other desirable areas with that name elsewhere to make it attractive to prospective buyers. St John's Wood in London was a well-known area and had been developing since the early 19th Century and would have been a suitable template for any planned development, although Hull's version was distinctly less grand. The Hull Packet ran an article in December 1867 in which St John’s Wood was described as: -

‘St John’s Wood immediately adjoins the Park, and is separated from the borough by the Park drain. This district, which is consequently free from all taxes levied in Hull, is under the supervision of the Cottingham Local Board. St John’s Wood consists of about seventy acres, and is bounded on the south by the Queen’s-road, Park, on the north by the Alexandra-road, on the east by the Beverley-road, and on the west by Temple Road [this appears to be an error as I can find no record of Temple Road, and must surely refer to Newland Toft’s Lane]. Since 1864, when houses first began to make their appearance, eight new streets have been laid out, and plans of 107 houses have been approved by the Cottingham Local Board, and the habitations are now all built or in the course of erection. Nearly all the land has been sold by the original speculators, Messrs. J. Carlill and J. Story, and by some choice lots have been re-sold at 50 per cent. advance. During the past year the public have bought more largely than in any previous year. Aided by the skill and experience of Mr. C F Butler, C.E., well known in Hull in matters of drainage, the Cottingham Local Board have made numerous sanitary improvements by covering over open drains, and not least, by fixing a public pump to an artesian well made by Mr Speck of Hessle, and it is stated that the water is of excellent quality, and equal to that derived from Spring-head. St John’s Wood is most pleasantly and conveniently situated, and in view of the steady increase of housebuilding, it is in contemplation to build a chapel and schools on the site, and thus place the district in this respect on a footing with Dairycoates and Beetonsville’.

The Queen’s Hotel

The Hull Packet of August 1865 ran details of the licensing committee’s proceedings where it had been agreed that ‘… the bench to grant a license to Mr W Purdon auctioneer, Hull, for a house intended to be called the Queen’s Hotel, situated in the Queen’s Road, near the Park, Hull…’ So it seems the Queen’s Hotel was constructed in the newly laid-out Queen’s Road during the winter of 1865/66.

Tolls had been abolished on Beverley Road (a former Turnpike road) by 1871 and this may have been another factor in the growth of the area around the Queen’s Hotel, which would have become more accessible. The 1871 Census still recorded only eight properties in Queen’s Road, two were beer-houses, one a grocer & tea dealer and the others private residences. The Queen’s Hotel was mentioned by name although no persons were present on the day of the Census. The Census also listed a number of streets off Queen’s Road including Queen’s Cottages, which were situated between Maple Street and Elm Street (then known as Argyle Street and Vernon Street - Hull already had a Vernon Street and an Argyle Street and the streets were soon re-named to avoid any confusion - c.1887).

The re-naming of the streets with the names of trees seems to have occurred once the area had become well established as St John’s Wood - post 1871, as they had not changed by that year’s Census. From this point on most of the streets and terraces around the Queen’s Hotel were given suitable names as they were built, hence - Beech Grove, Willow Grove etc. off Prince’s Road. This development occurred from circa 1874 and the Cottingham Local Board [this area was still in the parish of Cottingham at that time] held a meeting regarding the street’s construction and in 1876 the Hull Times reported that it would cost £2-7s-6d a foot for the making of Queen’s Road, which probably meant tarmacadding the road.

There is a possible reason for the naming of the streets and possibly even the area. Historian G.H. Hill writing in 1909 recalled that whilst laying the foundations for St Augustine’s Church (presumably the 1888/1892 structure and not the previous temporary church), which stood at the corner of Queen’s Road and Prince’s Road, ‘geological debris was discovered’. The debris revealed proof of an ancient wooded area and amongst the debris was evidence of Beech, Cherry, Oak and other assorted tress including some nut trees. Atkinson’s trade directory of 1888 listed the following streets in the St John’s Wood area, specifically around the site of St Augustine’s: Beech Grove, Willow Grove, Maple Street, Elm Street and Chestnut Avenue. It seems possible that the streets were renamed following the discovery, which was no doubt recorded in the papers at the time.

White’s directory of 1867 listed Queen’s Road by name, probably for the first time in a directory and also noted two beer-houses in the road. William Purdon was listed as the first victualler of the Queen’s Hotel. He had been recorded as a house and estate agent and auctioneer in an 1863 trade directory and the Queen’s was probably one of his own speculative transactions and possibly his own converted home (Queen’s Cottage?). A plan of the St John’s Wood area dated 1863 showed a building on the site of the Queen’s Hotel and the land on which it was built and the adjacent land on the east side of Prince’s Road was all shown to belong to William Purdon. In May 1866 the Hull Times reported that: - ‘a Court of Sewers meeting had been held regarding a foot-bridge over the Princes Bank drain, put there by Mr Purdon of a beer-house in St John’s Wood’. The Hull Times recorded a short battle between Mr Purdon and the authorities over the brick-built bridge that became known as Purdon’s Bridge. Having provided easier access to his new pub Mr Purdon was keen to make the most of his investment and soon had the site up for sale; this notice appeared in the Hull Packet newspaper in November 1866: -

ST JOHN'S WOOD NEAR THE PARK.Valuable Beerhouse & Building Ground.T0 BE SOLD BY AUCTION by Mr. CHARLES JOHNSON at the George Hotel, Hull, on MONDAY, November 26th, 1866 at Two O'Clock in the afternoon (subject to conditions of Sale to be then produced), All that Valuable BEER-HOUSE, known as the ‘Queen’s Hotel’ most eligibly situate at the corner of Queen’s-road and Princes-road on the Beverley-road, and in close proximity to the Park, being in the Parish of Cottingham. The Premises have been erected in the most substantial manner, by the present owner, expressly for an Hotel, and for which purpose they are admirably adapted. They comprise four good Sitting-rooms, seven Bed-rooms, and two Attics, kitchen and Scullery, an excellent Dram-shop, large Club-room, Tap-room, Cellarage, and Rain-water Cisterns; a Two-stall Stable and Coach-house, Piggeries, Yard, and Out-offices; the whole comprising an area of 400 square yards or thereabouts, and in the occupation of Mr. Wm. Purdon.

Also, in one or more lots, a valuable arid improving Plot of BUILDING GROUND, situate immediately adjoining to the last lot, and comprising 4000 Square yards or thereabouts, having a frontage on Prince's-road of 216ft., and on Queen’s-road of 107ft., and capable of being laid out to great advantage for the erection of a good class of Dwelling-houses or Terraces. The above Properties occupy a most commanding position in this rapidly improving neighbourhood. They have an uninterrupted view of the Park, with east access to the same; and, to a brewer or small capitalist, present an opportunity for investment of a highly remunerative and improvable character’.

In a directory of 1872 Samuel Joseph Anderson a fish salesman was listed in Queen’s Road and by the time of the next directory of 1874 he was listed as a beer retailer at the Queen’s Hotel and was the second recorded victualler. Princes(s) Bank was officially named and opened as ‘Princes Bank Avenue’ in 1875 and this cemented the success of the Queen’s Hotel by effectively joining Beverley Road to Spring Bank around the Pearson Park boundary. Only the small footbridge over the Cottingham Drain had previously linked Queen’s Road and the route of the Princess Bank. Peck’s plan of Hull in 1875 showed very little property in the area around the Queen’s Hotel.

Pettingell’s Birds Eye View of Hull in 1880 gave the first (albeit small) pictorial evidence of the Queen’s Hotel. It was shown at the corner of Queen’s and Princes Road with both roads built upon, appearing as a typical symmetrical building of the time. A picture postcard view taken by local publishers and photographers Parrish & Berry showed the hotel as it appeared in 1903. A fine brick built structure with imitation quoins at each front corner. A gabled roof hipped at the eastern end, in slate over a simple two-storey front. Why the west end was gabled is not certain. It may simply have been a way of giving a more pleasing aspect to the Princes Road elevation. A splendid Victorian door-case completed the front aspect and what a fine hotel the Queen’s must have been in its heyday.

At some point during the 1890s the Queen’s acquired a large bowling green, which was situated on the site of the present car park and survived into the 1960s. The Queen’s Bowling Club was referred to in many directories at the turn of the 20th Century but was not shown on the Ordnance Survey Plan of 1890/92.

In 1897 a bay window was added to the first floor ‘Club Room’ on the Princes Road side of the building and this may have been the meeting room of the Queen’s bowlers or possibly another room used by one of the local friendly societies. In 1901 a large pavilion was built for the club and a wash house was added later in the same year to the rear of the pavilion.

Plans of the building drawn for the Hull Brewery Co. Ltd at the turn of the century showed it to have an open yard in the centre of the buildings and access for carts and carriages from Prince’s Road. A stable was set back from the building along Prince’s Road and the entry from the street can still be seen. Later plans from 1910 show the stable next to bottle stores and noted as ‘stable & trap’; the trap bieng the type of carriage used as transport by the landlord and his family. The hotel had only one serving counter in the ‘Public Lounge’ on Prince’s Road. Presumably drinks were either carried by or served to the public in the other four rooms.

Pre 1889 the Queen’s was a Wilford’s house but was taken over by the Hull Brewery around 1890 at which point it was valued in a breakdown of the company’s assets at £4,500. A survey by the Hull Brewery in 1911 noted the pub’s financial status. The auditor remarked that the rent was ‘rather low’ at £200 per year but that the Queen’s was in a ‘splendid situation with no opposition and a Bowling Green’. It held a full seven-day licence and the brief figures for the year 1910 were as follows:

Purchases - Draught beer - £1,686

Bottled beer - £520

Spirits - £887

A 50% mark-up was added to give a sales figure of £4,639 for the year, of which the gross profit for 1910 was £1,546.

The Queen’s became increasingly popular probably due to its excellent location, facilities and lack of competition in the area. Consequently it underwent more and more alterations.

In 1925 the small smoke rooms at the bowling green side of the hotel were knocked into one larger public lounge that would have overlooked the green.

The addition of toilets for ladies as well as gentlemen meant the yard had to be built over and the small out-sales window became a much larger ‘out-sales shop’ with display windows, which survives as part of the present kitchen facilities today. The extensive plans showed the many other smaller alterations however the most drastic change visually was the addition of the distinctive mansard roof in 1926, which effectively added another floor to the building. The new roof only served to emphasise the strange gable at the west end, which has always given the impression the building was once part of a terrace, which it never was.

Over the years the yard and passage between the hotel and the stables and pavilion has been shut off and the Queen’s is now a much longer and larger premises than it ever was. The renovation of the pavilion area to provide outdoor seating has worked well and until recently the hotel had possibly the last remaining and almost intact ‘beer-off’ in the city (although it had ceased to be used in the 1980s). The current bar counters hide original tiled fronts of 1925 and other original details survive such as engraved windows and back counter shelving. The Queen’s is still popular with locals many of whom are students, and is now more associated with live sports via its huge screens and televisions around the rooms. The rotting window frames and poorly maintained gutters were refurbished late in 2009.

These are some of the known victuallers at the Queen’s: -

1866-67 William Purdon

1874-76 Samuel Joseph Anderson

1879-95 James Tusting

1897-21 Charles Clifford

1926-30 Isaac Denton Dunn

1933-54 Christopher Thomas Venter

1967-68 P.K. Baxter

The St John’s Hotel

The other beerhouse in Queen’s Road was first named the Oddfellow's Arms, located at the east side of the junction of Queen’s Road and Argyle Street, now known as Maple Street. It was probably built at the same time as the Queen’s Hotel and the first recorded beer retailer at the premises was Tyson Garner, who applied for a licence to sell spirituous liquors in 1866, at the same time as William Purdon of the Queen’s Hotel. He was still listed there in the 1871 Census and in a trade directory of 1872.

The name was almost certainly a reference to the ‘Friendly Societies’ who may have held their meetings there. Paul Davis recorded in his book Old Friendly Societies of Hull that: - ‘the influence of the movement [Friendly Society] and its popularity in the town may be measured by the numbers of the members of the societies in the procession at the opening of Pearson Park in 1860’. He noted that no less than 4,200 of the various Oddfellow’s branch members attended those celebrations.

Following the development of St John’s Wood and possibly also due to the fact that there had been another Oddfellow’s Arms in Hull since at least 1851 (the other in Osborne Street), the pub changed its name circa 1890 to become the more familiar St John’s Hotel, which it remains today. The renaming may also have coincided with the pub being taken over by the Hull Brewery Co. Ltd.

The St John’s has survived with little alteration in comparison to other pubs of its type and age and still retains virtually its original layout. The only plan to show the full layout of the building was produced in September 1904 for the Hull Brewery Co. Ltd. and showed the property before and after alterations to the kitchen areas. It was at this point that the former smoke room to the right of the Queen’s Road entrance was extended back to take-in the original small kitchen. The new kitchen was built as an extension of the property over the old outside ‘back kitchen’, chicken run and sheds. Some of these outbuildings including the old store-room in the yard still survive. The original corner doors to Queen’s Road and Maple Street were sadly closed-up between the wars.

With the exception of a few more modern additions the St John’s still retains its 1904-05 layout and rightly deserves its place as one of C.A.M.R.A.’s pub interiors of ‘special heritage interest’ in East Yorkshire.

An interesting legacy of its Hull Brewery days is the use of the remains of an old Royal Doulton earthenware cellar-jar as a planter outside the pub. This had previously been used for storage of their sparkling ales at the St John’s. Local historian Chris Ketchell also recalled that until recently an old painted advert for the Oddfellow’s Arms could be seen on the gable end of the St John’s. This only became visible following demolition of the adjacent property (circa 1982?), which suggests the St John’s pre-dated the adjoining terrace. 

These are some of the known victuallers at the St John’s: -

1867-76 Tyson Garner

1885 George Wm Holmes

1888-92 Henry Kirk

1895 Lillie Kirk

1897-1916 George W. Balding

1921-1930 Mrs Amy Robina Balding

1939-1954 Thomas R. Woodbridge

1967 C.A. Scruton

© Paul L Gibson, Hull 1999

Revised and updated October 2000 and edited for the web July 2009

Brief Bibliography

A History of Hull. E. Gillett & K.A. MacMahon, revised reprinted edition, Hull University Press, 1989.

An Illustrated History of the Avenues and Pearson Park Hull. Edited by Chris Ketchell. Published by the Avenues and Pearson Park Residents Association. Hull 1989.

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

Brown’s Illustrated Guide to Hull. E. Wrigglesworth, Hull 1891. Re-printed Mr Pye (books), Howden, 1992.

Landlord. Graham Wilkinson. Work in progress, 2000.

Lost Churches and Chapels of Hull. David Neave, with Geoff Bell, Christopher Ketchell and Susan Neave. Hull City Museums & Art Galleries and the Hutton Press, 1991.

Moors’ & Robson’s Breweries Ltd., A Brief History. Robert Barnard. Hull College Local History Unit, 1996.

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

Victoria County History of the County of York and the East Riding. Volume 1. The City of Kingston upon Hull. Edited by K.J. Allison. Oxford University Press for Institute of Historical Research, 1969.

The Old Friendly Societies of Hull. Paul Davis. A. Brown & Sons, Hull 1926.

The Meadley Index to the Hull Times. Volumes 1 (1857-1866) and Volume 2 (1867-1876) Edited by Robert Barnard. Hull College & Hull Local Studies Library, 2000.

The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain. Kenneth O. Morgan. Guild Publishing Ltd., London, 1984.

The Township of Newland, Its Steads, Garths, Orchards, Gardens, Crofts and Tofts, Woods, Waters and Ways. G.H. Hill, 1909. Malet Lambert School Local History Reprint, Extra Volume No.32. Hull, 1982.

Plans consulted for Queen’s Hotel

DBHT 12/14/16 (1863) Land belonging Mr William Purdon in Queen’s Road 

1424 (25.7.1897) bay windows added to first floor club-room

2810 (2.5.1901) pavilion for Bowling Club

2940 (3.9.1901) wash house added to rear of club-room

2946 (16.2.1925) alterations

3231 (12.11.1926) additional upper rooms and roof alterations

1934 (6.6.1934) alterations and additions

Plans consulted for St John’s Hotel

OB Newland 337, plans for the construction of No. 9 Queen’s Road

DBHT 12/13/14 (1865) Sale plan for St John’s Wood estate for Mr John Storey

1894M/4045 (3.9.1904) new kitchens at St John’s Hotel


Hull City Archive. Thanks to Elspeth

Hull Local Studies Library. Thanks to David Smith and his ever-helpful staff

Mike Southcoat for Hull Times references to Purdon’s Bridge

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