Hull and Whaling
Hull vessels where sailing to the Scandinavian
Peninsula in the latter part of the 16th century and
then in 1618 the King granted the island of Jan Mayen as a fishing
station to the Hull Corporation.
Because of the English Civil War and constant
claims that the Hull whalers were “interlopers” by the London-based
Muscovy Company, the Dutch began to dominate whaling in the late
17th century, but by the first half of the
18th century Hull was growing as a whaling port.
James Hamilton equipped a vessel for arctic fishing which sailed
from Hull in 1754.
Government bounties and subsidies along with
duty placed on imported oil and bone helped encourage the business
to grow in England, and in 1766 Samuel Standidge began the
investment that laid the foundations of Hull as a major whaling
port. War with England, and a blockade during the war with France
meant that the Dutch involvement in whaling was effectively dead by
the beginning of the 19th century. At this time the Hull
fleet made up about 40% of the British whaling fleet.
Whaling Trade in
The whaling trade in Hull peaked around 1820
when 62 vessels returned with the produce from 688 whales worth
approximately £250,000. With the amount of trade coming through the
city at this time it was no surprise to find manufacturing
companies join the rush. On South Street in Hull was Bateman
and Bowman’s Whalebone Manufactory that produced all kinds of
products ranging from sieves to sofa backings, in a variety of
The next year, however, was a disaster, with 9
vessels crushed in the ice. Many investors withdrew their money as
a result and the fleet was reduced by almost a third. In 1822
another 6 vessels were lost and eight others failed to catch a
By 1868 only two steam powered vessels left
Hull, the Truelove and Diana. In 1869 the
Diana, the sole remaining vessel sailing from Hull, was
wrecked off Donna Nook on the Lincolnshire coast when returning
home. Shortly after this the whaling industry moved to Scotland
with a new generation of steamers that ran until the start of the
At the turn of the 20th century the demand for whale products began
to slow. In the 1920s people began to use alternatives for heat and
lighting, although new uses for whale products were found. By the
1930s more than 80% of whale oil was used in margarine, which,
along with soap became the main use for the oil.
During the 1930s whalers worldwide had noticed
a decline in numbers and decided something had to be done to
protect stocks. In 1946 a number of major whaling nations joined
together to create the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and
set quotas on the number of whales allowed to be killed.
In the 1970s Greenpeace arrived to protect the
whales. New technology meant the whales could be seen underwater on
TV, and heard on the radio. By promoting the whales as unable to
defend themselves people’s attitudes began to change, additionally
there was by now cheaper and better replacements for anything the
In 1982 the IWC voted to halt all commercial
whaling until stocks had recovered, although a number of nations
are still allowed to hunt them for “research purposes”.
Continue to find-out about the history of whaling
This is just a very small selection of the
resources available in the Hull History Centre.
Whaling and Hull
Credland, Arthur. Whales &
Whaling. Shire Publications Ltd. 1982.
Credland, Arthur. The Hull Whaling Trade:
An Arctic Enterprise. Hutton Press Ltd. 1995.
Credland, Arthur. “Hull’s arctic whaling trade
from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.” An Historical
Atlas of East Yorkshire. University of Hull Press, 1996.
Credland, Arthur. The Diana of Hull.
Kingston Upon Hull Museums and Art Galleries, 1980.
Dykes, Jack. Yorkshire’s Whaling
Days. Dalesman Publishing Company, 1980.
Ross, J, Capt. Narrative of a Voyage by
Captain Ross. K Book Editions. York,1973.