Brief history of Hull - part 3

The 1920s and 30s saw industrial decline, exacerbated by overproduction in the fishing industry. However this period also saw many improvements in housing and planning, with the construction of council housing estates on the outskirts of the City, and a major urban improvement in the development of Ferensway. This was interrupted by the Second World War, and the recent St Stephens development is its latest stage.

Hull University was founded in 1927, and is now one of the highest regarded universities in the United Kingdom with over 18,000 students a year. Philip Larkin (1922-85), one of the most important English poets of the 20th century, served as Librarian from 1955 until his death in 1985.

Second World War
During the Second World War Hull’s strategic importance saw it devastated by air raids, particularly in March and May 1941. The City was the heaviest bombed outside London, and post-war reconstruction, hindered rather than helped by a detailed plan co-authored by the famous architect Edwin Lutyens, took many years.

The profile of trade in Hull changed after the War. The smaller, older docks were closed, but Queen Elizabeth Dock opened in 1969 to handle container traffic. The port continues to thrive with some of the largest super ferries in the world operating from Hull.

Decline of the Fishing Industry
The main loss to the City was the fishing industry, which collapsed in the 1970s after the “Cod Wars” with Iceland. However many of the old industries which originally developed in Hull to process imported raw materials are still here, including pharmaceutical firms Reckitt Benckiser and Smith & Nephew, and millers Maizecor. The port is still, after over 700 years, a major importer of timber from Northern Europe.

In 1959 approval was given to build a suspension bridge across the River Humber, although building did not start until 1973. This major landmark was formally opened by H.M. the Queen in July 1981.

21st Century
The floods of June 2007 were devastating for many of Hull’s inhabitants, but at the same time allowed citizens to demonstrate a characteristic resilience arguably last seen in 1941. But for many Hull people, the most important event of the first decade of the 21st century was Hull City AFC’s rollercoaster adventure in the Premier League. A Playoff final victory over Bristol City on May 24 2008, with the winning goal fittingly scored by Hull-born Dean Windass, ushered in the team’s first experience of top tier football in their 104 years of existence. Rugby league fans – whether Hull FC or Hull Kingston Rovers supporters – have been more accustomed to top-flight action over the years. Hull played host to matches in the Rugby League World Cup competition in 2013.

At the beginning of the 21st century, Hull is a unique city with a proud heritage and strong foundations on which to build a prosperous and exciting future. In recognition of this, Hull was named as UK City of Culture 2017.

Return to Part One (upto 1660) or Part Two (1778-1914) or see the further reading list.