Brief history of Hull - part 1

The Humber estuary links the rivers of Yorkshire and the East Midlands with the North Sea. Hull grew up in the Middle Ages, where the River Hull joins the Humber. It developed as a port through which wool from its hinterland was exported to Northern Europe, and through which the raw materials of the Baltic region, principally timber, were imported into England. Sea-going ships anchored in the mouth of the Hull to transfer cargo to and from smaller vessels which could sail up the rivers to Beverley and Nottingham, Knottingley, Selby and York.

The King's Town
In 1293 the port was bought by King Edward I for use as a supply base for his military campaigns in Scotland. In 1299, the King founded the borough of Kingston-upon-Hull on the site, and this name is still the formal title of the City.

Hull continued to be an important port in the later Middle Ages. It exported lead and grain as well as wool. Imports included cloth from the Netherlands, iron-ore from Sweden, oil seed from the Baltic and timber from Riga and Norway. Timber and oil seed continue to be major imports through the port of Hull to the present day.

Some Hull merchants grew very rich. The De La Pole family became wealthy enough to join the ranks of the English aristocracy, and for one brief period in the 1400s, become heirs to the throne.

Hull in the Civil War
Hull suffered a decline in trade during the 16th and 17th centuries, but its strategic importance meant that it received the military attentions of both sides in the British Civil Wars. In April 1642 King Charles I attempted to take control of the arsenal at Hull, but was turned away from the gates by the governor Sir John Hotham. Hull supported the Parliamentarian (Roundhead) side in the conflict, and was consequently besieged by the Royalists (Cavaliers) for five weeks in September and October 1643. The leading English republican, Sir Henry Vane, was a member of parliament for Hull at this time, and slightly later, both before and after the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, Andrew Marvell, the Hull-born poet, represented the town.

Continue to Part two (1778-1914) or Part three (1920s to present day) or see further reading list.