Brief history of Hull - part 2
Growth of the Port
Increasing trade on the back of the agricultural and industrial
developments in Yorkshire and the East Midlands saw Hull’s
development as a port accelerate in the 18th century. The first
dock was opened in 1778 and others were constructed over the next
150 years. The population of the town also increased, and Hull
outgrew its medieval core (now known as the Old Town) as spacious
middle-class suburbs developed to the west and east of the town.
The 19th century saw the establishment of industries based on
processing raw materials imported through the port, such as corn
milling and seed crushing.
One member of Hull’s increasingly prosperous merchant class who
achieved national prominence was William
Wilberforce (1759-1833). Born and educated in Hull, he was
elected as MP for the town in 1780, before becoming MP for the
County of York in 1784. His profound Christian faith motivated his
political life and led to his becoming the leading opponent of
slavery in parliament. His campaigning work contributed to the
abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807 and of
slavery as an institution in 1833.
The late 18th century saw the rise of the whaling trade in Hull.
By 1800 40% of the country’s whalers sailed from the town, and the
trade brought increased prosperity to Hull until it began to
decline through over-fishing in the mid 19th century.
By then, the fishing industry itself was beginning to take off
in Hull. In the 1840s, the discovery of the “silver pits” – a very
fish-rich part of the North Sea – led to fishermen from Devon and
Kent migrating to the Humber, at first seasonally and then
permanently. The introduction in the late 19th century of new
fishing methods – the “trawl” – and of steam powered trawlers meant
that Hull fishermen fished as far a field as Iceland and the White
Trade and industry in Hull were boosted by the arrival of the rail
link with Leeds in 1840. Other railways followed, including the
Hull and Barnsley Railway and the associated Alexandra Dock which
were opened in 1885 to break the perceived local monopoly of the
North Eastern Railway.
Hull was at its most prosperous in the years before the First
World War. This prosperity, and the civic pride which went with it,
is demonstrated by major civic buildings, such as the Guildhall
(built 1904-16). Hull was granted the status of City in 1897, and
the first citizen received the title of Lord Mayor in 1914.
Return to Part one (upto 1660) go
three (1920s to present day) or see further