Tuesday, 11 April 2017

2017 Quarterly Update from the History Centre

Over the past three months our City of Culture blog here at the History Centre has explored the theme ‘Made in Hull’, a theme chosen by the City of Culture team to launch the 2017 year of celebrations. With the advent of April, we have moved into the second quarter of 2017, which is dedicated to the theme ‘Roots and Routes’. As a result, our History Centre City of Culture blog now changes focus. From April to June we embark on a ‘Roots and Routes’ blog series.

This quarter’s theme is all about travelling, migration and settlement. Our blogs in this series will cover themes such parades around the city’s public spaces, as well as immigration and movement through the city resulting from the Second World War. We will be exploring 19th century cases of settlement heard by the Quarter Sessions magistrates in the city. And, because of Hull’s important maritime heritage, we won’t be focusing solely on land. The ways in which the citizens of Hull have traversed the waves will be explored as we look at 19th century whaling journeys, and the many ways in which we have attempted to bridge the River Humber over the last millennium.

Postcard showing New Riverside Quay and the River Humber, late 19th cent. [L RH]

To kick off this quarter we are playing host to an exhibition of paintings exploring the Old Town area of the city. This fabulous series of paintings, titled ‘A family’s Journey through Hull’s Old Town’, have been created by Cottingham based artist Shirley Goodsell. The exhibition is free to all and will run from 5th-27th April.

Postcard showing Whitefriargate, the entrance to Hull's Old Town, pre-1900 [L RH]

The quarter will conclude with another exhibition, this time a photographic display, compiled by Alec Gill and titled ‘Hessle Roaders’. This will again be free to all and will run from 1st-29th June.

Postcard showing Hessle Road, 1906 [L RH]

In other news, our History Makers programme for the quarter kicked off on 1st April with a great turnout to the ‘Science in the Archives’ session, which took a whistle-stop tour around the city’s scientific discoveries. The ‘Full Steam Ahead’ session, on 6th May, will look at Hull’s railway history as we build train stations and steam engines to transport us around the city. Whilst the final History Makers of the quarter, ‘Fish and Ships’, will be a celebration of our fishing past.

Just a few hints to keep you intrigued, for more information you will have to read our ‘Roots and Routes’ posts…

History Centre Team

Friday, 7 April 2017

From Dock Company to Humber Ports

Robert in our map room looking at a Humber Conservancy plan
This week marks the beginning of a project which will see the records of the Humber Ports of the British Transport Docks Board, later known as Associated British Ports, fully catalogued and made available to the public for the first time.

To enable us to catalogue the collection we have secured funding from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives which has allowed us to employ a Project Archivist for 15 months to work on the collection. 

On Monday we welcomed Robert to our team and he will be keeping you up to date on how the project is progressing.

The importance of these records
After the creation of the Hull Dock Board in 1774 Hull’s dock network expanded rapidly and these records allow us to build a comprehensive picture of the workings of the various organisations at work in the Humber region during this period and how they combined to make the area a maritime success. 

Important for the understanding of the history and development of Hull and the wider Humber region, this collection, which covers the period 1772-1982, includes records relating to:

  • The Hull Dock Company
  • The Humber Conservancy Commissioners and Board
  • The ports of Goole, Grimsby and Immingham
  • The Aire and Calder Navigation
  • The Dock and Harbour Authorities Association
  • Hull and Barnsley Railway
  • Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
  • North Eastern Railway/London & North Eastern Railway/Waterways and Ports

Carol Tanner

Access and Collections Manager

Monday, 27 March 2017

Made in Hull: Women in the Pursuit of Perfection

To celebrate the end of Women's History Month 2017 and the City of Culture’s Women of the World Festival, we thought we would take a look at the lives of some of our unsung women, all of whom we have records on at the History Centre if you want to find out more. Winifred Holtby, wrote an article for the Yorkshire Post in October 1929 entitled, Women in the pursuit of perfection [L WH/2/2.25/05/10B]. In it she separated women into two groups: those who are satisfied with their lot and are happy to compromise; and those who strive for something better, for perfection. Holtby, along with the rest of the women in this blog, falls into the second category. These are women that deserve to be celebrated for their contribution to the life of the City and those within it. 

Ann Watson
On her death, Mrs Ann Watson provided for the creation of a trust, The Ann Watson Trust, under the terms of her will, dated 27th October 1720. We know little of Ann's life or family, except that she was married to the Reverend Abraham Watson, lived in Hedon and had four children. Three of her children, Hedon, Abraham, and a daughter married to Mr Alexander Hall, all died in her lifetime. Her fourth child, Isaac survived her and was the rector of South Ferriby. Her bequest provided for the accommodation and relief of poor women in need who were members of the Church of England. Preference was given to widows or unmarried daughters of clergymen of the Church of England. She also made provision to help those in need to gain an education. Through careful management her bequest has helped those less fortunate than herself for three centuries. Today, the objectives of the Charity remain fundamentally the same. They include providing for the advancement of education through the promotion of education amongst persons under 25 who are residents of the East Riding of Yorkshire or who attend a school in that area. You can find out more about Ann Watson and her legacy by exploring the trust's records [C DSAW].

Map showing the extent of the Trust's land ownership, 1770 [C DSAW/3/2]

Mrs Christiana Rose
Christiana Rose was a woman who forged her own way in a man’s world. In 1833 she inherited a business that would become known as Rose, Downs & Thompson Ltd. It was originally established in 1777 by John Todd as the Old Foundry in a location that would later become known as Canon Street. The business specialised in making windmill parts and casting canon and ship fittings. It also benefited from the lucrative seed crushing industry which required presses and windmills to operate. On the retirement of Mr Todd in 1824, the business passed to Christiana's father, Duncan Campbell. Christiana had a large hand in continuing the business and expanded it to such an extent that, between 1861 and 1863, the Old Foundry had built and installed over one hundred double presses, all of which bore the name C Rose. She died in December 1871 having steered the business through a transitional period which would see it become one of the leading exporters of oil mill machinery. To find out more, have a look at the records of Rose, Downs & Thompson [C DBR]. 

Photograph of female workers in the workshop, c.1920 [C DBR/2037]

Ada Hartley
Born in 1896 to Charles and Caroline Hartley, Ada was a woman who was to dedicate her life to the teaching profession and the children in her care. At the age of 17 she attended Hessle Church of England School as a student teacher. She would return to the school in 1928 as a teacher, and would remain there, working her way up the ranks to Headmistress in 1938, until her retirement in 1961. Outside of her teaching work, Ada served the community in other ways. By 1925 she had joined the Kingston Nursing Division of St. John’s Ambulance Association. She served in No. 6 District, the Hull Corps. In 1931 she was appointed a Lady Ambulance Officer and became a lady ambulance driver later the same year. As WWII approached, Ada attended courses in Chemical Warfare and became an instructor in anti-gas measures, before being appointed as a Lady Divisional Superintendent in June 1941. After the war she received The Order of St. John of Jerusalem in recognition of devoted service to the cause of humanity. Ada remained unmarried after the war, a fate many women experienced following the death of a generation of young men did not come home from the war. She died in 1980 having dedicated her whole life to helping others. You can find out more about Ada and her life in records at the History Centre [C DIMH].

Ada (1st on left) with The St John's Ambulence [C DIMH/1/4/1]

There are many more stories waiting to be told, many more exceptional Hull women to discover, here at the History Centre through our online catalogue. Mary Murdoch (1864-1916), Suffragist and Hull’s first female doctor [L.610]; Winifred Holtby (1898-1935), author, critic, journalist and political activist [L WH,  L.823]; Stevie Smith (1902-1971), poet and author [U DP/156, U DP/197, L. 821 (SMI)]; Amy Johnson (1903-1941), aviatrix and the first female to fly to Australia [L.920 (JOH), L DIAJ]; Lilian Bilocca (1929-1988), activist [L. Newspapers, L. Books]; Jean Hartley (1933-2011), founder of Marvell Press, Philip Larkin’s publisher [U DJE].

Carol Tanner, Collections Manager Hull City Archives

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Archive Service Accreditation

It has been announced today that the Hull History Centre has been awarded Archive Service Accreditation by The National Archives.

What is the Archives Accreditation scheme?
Accredited Archive Services ensure the long-term collection, preservation and accessibility of our archive heritage. Archives Accreditation is the UK quality standard which recognises good performance in all areas of archive service delivery. Achieving accredited status demonstrates that Hull History Centre has met clearly defined national standards relating to management and resourcing; the care of its unique collections and what the service offers to its entire range of users.

To complete its application staff at the Centre have spent a year reviewing and updating all of its policies on fundraising, volunteers, social media, access, learning and outreach aswell as collections management.

The Accreditation Panel which made the award, following a visit to the Centre earlier this year, commended the achievements of the Centre “in delivering a very positive service offering strong outreach and innovation, particularly in cataloguing and digital preservation. The constituent archives have embraced the opportunities of co-location to provide a positive experience for their users.”

What next?
an attendee at a recent History Maker
session with a decorated helmet and shield
We now have a framework to review and update all of this work in the next few years but it has given us the confidence that we are on the right track. We will continue to offer a range of services to meet our different users needs – including our popular History Makers craft and Lego activities for families, History Bakers where staff put their baking skills to the test with old recipes in the archives through to our recent Reading Old Writing workshops.

We will continue to seek external funding to allow us to do more, as evident through securing a National Cataloguing Grant to work on the records of the Humber Ports of the British Transport Docks Board which later became Associated British Ports. 

This year we are heavily involved in supporting a range of projects as the city celebrate UK City of Culture and hosting a wide variety of exhibitions including one on Hull in the Civil War later this summer.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the sector today is preserving digital content like word files or email often requiring data to be safely transferred from old formats – like the floppy disk. This area of work is key to ensure that future generations are able to access information in the archives for academic research or personal curiosity. 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Made in Hull: A Poetic City

Recently, I was delving into issues of the University of Hull’s student paper, ‘Torch’, as part of my work [RefNo. U SUH]. Reading through a volume covering the period of the Second World War, I was intrigued to find that issues often contain poetry submissions from students. Many of these submissions were clearly inspired by our city, and this gave me an idea for a blog.

As it is UNESCO World Poetry Day on the 21st March, I thought you might like to take a look at some past images of Hull through the medium of student poetry. So this fortnight’s Culture of Culture blog will have limited input from me in order that you may take in some interesting perspectives on Hull written by people who have been inspired by the city.

Professor Hardy invented the Continuous Plankton Recorder whilst Professor of Zoology at Hull. This poem was presumably written by one of his students and captures one reaction to research being undertaken in the city during the 1940s.

During the Second World War, Hull was heavily bombed, possibly the worst hit city, along with Coventry, outside of London. This poem evokes the experience of living in Hull during the heavy bomb raids of the 1940s.

At the end of the Second World War, Hull was a ruined city, with bombed out buildings and 1000s of people having to be rehoused. This poem conjures a picture of what it must have been like to walk around the city in the aftermath of the war.

And finally, poem that may be inspired by Paragon Station, a building that would have been used by students coming and going between home and studies. Quite literally, a 'lighter' note to end on, with a depiction of a city looking forward with hope for the future.

If you have enjoyed any other these, why not come and visit us? You will find plenty more student poems in the 'Torch' volumes we hold here at the History Centre.

Claire, Assistant Archivist (HUA)

Thursday, 9 March 2017

NDSA Levels of digital preservation

Here at the Hull History Centre, we have been reviewing the NDSA levels of digital preservation. This was something we had meant to do for a while. Last summer we volunteered to feed our experiences back to the Archives Accreditation team which is looking at using this element in the future.  

The levels are a framework created by the National Digital Stewardship Alliance as a guide for institutions that are managing digital material. The framework breaks up the many various and sometimes confusing aspects of digital preservation into five easily understood functional areas: Storage, Integrity, Security, Metadata and File Formats. These areas can be graded into four levels of increasing preservation security, creating a visual reference grid that can be used as a checklist. 

Two extra areas that have been proposed are Access (proposed by the Library of the University of California) and Physical Formats (by the United States Geological Survey). In creating a grid for the Hull University Archives we decided to include these two proposed areas.

This is our starting grid, with the two extra areas and a few minor tweaks around virus checking

Completing the self-assessment
To undertake the self-assessment we simply looked at each area, starting with level 1 and quickly determined whether we had met the requirement completely (green), partially (yellow) or not at all (red). We deliberately sought not to dwell on each element and erred on the side of caution.
This is our final grid, lots of red but some aspects/elements are already in-place

Using the framework
The framework is a self-assessment tool which can help you plan your digital preservation journey.  Don't worry - most of the Level 4 requirements in each area are intended to be hard to reach but is intended to serve as a long-term target to aspire to. At Hull our long-term target is to become a trusted digital repository.

Some elements will conflict with institutional policy - for example the storage area recommends having three separate copies of your data in different locations obviously has resource implications. 

The best way we found to approach the NDSA levels is to focus on meeting the basic requirements, understand the level of preservation that can achieve with the current resources and work up to levels 3 and 4 step-by-step. At the end of the day, every archive has different goals for their digital preservation plans and understanding how to achieve them is an ongoing learning process. Having conducted the exercise this year - we now need to make it an integrated element into our work-programme and review progress in 12 months time!

We decided to implement the two proposed areas but we did not a few issues. It can be argued that Physical Media is already featured under the Storage area albeit in not such an explicit way.  It can be argued (indeed was often argued) that the Access area of the framework fits outside of the main digital preservation strategy. One reason to include Access is that it ensures this element remains a visible and explicit part of the planning process - and of course is the reason why we are preserving the stuff in the first place. Whilst we didn't always agree - the discussions were very interesting in that it made us think about the detail and the big picture.

Whatever form the NDSA levels of digital preservation end up taking in the future, the ability to be able to see at-a-glance how an institution is faring in its digital preservation efforts, and what should be the next set of goals, is an incredibly useful tool. It breaks down the sometimes confusing terms and stages of digital preservation into smaller points that are more easily manageable, making it much easier for institutions to begin implementing their own digital archives.

Francisco & Tom
Transforming Archives trainees

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

LGBT History Month

February has been LGBT History Month and the theme for 2017 is PHSE, Citizenship and Law. 

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalised homosexual acts in private in England and Wales, so I decided to look through the archive of Liberty (formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties) to see whether we hold any relevant material.
I discovered a file of press cuttings from the 1950s and 1960s (reference U DCL/178/10) which proved fascinating reading, as they demonstrate attitudes and viewpoints which seem archaic and sometimes horrifying to a modern reader. The Observer reported, in a February 1954 article, that:
Modern psychology taught us that homosexuality was a form of illness – physical as well as mental – which might be cured, and not a crime, which must be punished.
This argument was frequently cited in the press as a reason for law reform. The risk of blackmail was another, as a piece in The Times from May 1954 illustrates:
[The current law] unintentionally creates conditions favourable to blackmail. The man who fears exposure for adultery or some other legally unpunishable deed is equally liable to blackmail. But he, unlike the sexual invert, can put the police on to the blackmailer without fearing that he will himself be punished.
It was announced later in 1954 that an enquiry would be set up to investigate the laws.

Times, 9 July 1954

Following the Wolfenden Report in 1957, which recommended reform of the law, the government was unprepared to act but there were some attempts by members of Parliament and campaign groups to push for reform.
Daily Worker, 7 May 1965

It was not until 1965, however, that momentum began to really build, as Lord Arran in the House of Lords and Leo Abse in the House of Commons began the process of change. Although many in Parliament supported reform, that did not mean that they viewed homosexuality in the way society does today. The Sun reported on 13 May 1965, “17 out of 22 peers who took part in a Lords debate had spoken in favour of this reform”; it went on to record that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey, supported reform although “[he] said homosexuality was a sin, but all sins did not have to be treated as crimes.”
On 24 May 1965 the House of Lords debated a Bill to reform the law. One of the strongest voices against reform was Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery, whose opinion as reported in The Sun was:
To condone unnatural practices seems to me wholly wrong. One might just as well condone the Devil and all his works.
The voices in favour of reform included Lord Arran, who introduced the Bill, who said “Was it right a man should be persecuted and prosecuted for what he was born to be?” He went on to say, “I pray… that this House may show itself to be the place I believe it to be – a place of progress and compassion.” The Marquess of Queensbury said, “When my children grow up they will be amazed that laws of this sort could exist in the middle of the 20th century.”
The 1965 Bill in the House of Lords was not adopted by the government, but in 1966 Leo Abse introduced the Sexual Offences Bill in the House of Commons. He spoke at its second reading, demonstrating again that even supporters of reform used language which seems, shall we say, unhelpful to today’s ears. The Guardian reported:
Mr Leo Abse (Lab. Pontypool) said that the law offered homosexuals the “brutal choice” of either celibacy or criminality with nothing in between. … [Mr Abse said] “We are dealing with large numbers of people who apart from this particular aberration, are totally law-abiding.”
This time the reformers were successful, and the Act was passed. In the years since there have been arguments and debates about its merits and failings, but it’s surely worth commemorating as a step on the road to equality.

Guardian, 20 December 1966

Sarah Pymer, Assistant Archivist (HUA)

Monday, 13 February 2017

Made in Hull: A 'Sensational' Hull Romance

It's the month of love with Valentines Day happening on the 14th February, so what better reason is there to look at the history of chocolate and sweet making in our city!

Needler's letterhead paper

For those of you who didn’t already know, Needler's was a Hull-based sweet manufacturer. It was founded in 1886 by 18 year old Frederick Needler when he bought a small confectionery business near Paragon Station. He would later move the business to Anne Street, where he employed two staff - a sugar boiler and a boy named Watson. 

By 1900, the business had grown and the now 10 female and 23 male employees could make around ten tons of confectionery per week, resulting in a turnover for Needler of £15,000. Over two hundred different products, mainly boiled sweets and toffees, were being made. This meant that by 1906 larger premises were required, and a new building was erected on Bournemouth Street, off Sculcoates Lane. This is the factory that many people will remember and associate with Needlers. It was demolished in the early 2000’s and the land redeveloped as a housing estate. A nod to the land's previous status can be found in the estate's name, 'Needler's Way'.

Ariel photograph of the Bournemouth Street factory, 1920s

By 1912 Needler’s were producing 576 lines, 74 of which were chocolate, and by 1920 the company was making 650 tons of chocolate and 1,500 tons of sweets per year resulting in a turnover of £664,000. Sweet wrappers were introduced in the early 1920s and, interestingly, this process was undertaken by hand until the first wrapping machines were introduced in 1928.

By 1920, there were 1,700 permanent employees, most of whom were female. The company had a reputation for treating employees well. The staff dining room was often the scene of wedding gift presentations to former and current employees about to get married. In the summer 1936 issue of a journal published by Needler's, ‘Quality’, Percival Needler emphasized what a loss to the firm it was when 'valued servants’ left to set up their own homes and families. He also stated that he believed their Needler's training would ‘stand them in good stead in their home life' and that 'running a home was no easy matter', but that 'habits of punctuality, tidiness, cleanliness and the general discipline' gained whilst employed at Needler's should prove an excellent foundation on which to build [L.664.1]. On 29 July 1922 the Hull Times ran an article titled ‘A Romance of Local Industry’ which focused on the ‘sweet’ girls of Hull’, and which observed the excellent welfare and social provisions for workers. Profit sharing had been introduced as early as 1911, the company provided good social and sports facilities, as well as a sick and benefit society, and a full time attendant nurse was employed for the use of staff.

Needler's Van, 1918

Unfortunately, Needler's was badly hit by the economic depression of the 1930s, with turnover being nearly half what it had been just a decade earlier. At the same time, Frederick Needler's health was deteriorating, and he died on 30 September 1932 aged 67. He was immediately succeeded by his son, A. Percival Needler. Interestingly, the son was a published poet of some local repute. In 1958, he published a book of poems called ‘The Chiming Hours’ [L. 821]. It contains two love poems, ‘Love was a Rose’ and ‘Amberieux Revisited’...

Advertisement for Needler's products

Amberieux Revisited

And if two lovers sometimes meet
At blue of evening near my tree,
A corpse most happy I shall be
Their youth and grace to greet;

Holding hands I see them come,
Wrapped in dreams that need no speech,
Smiling softly each to each,
And pause beside my tomb.

“Dear poet who no malice bore,”
I hear them say in voices low,
“Here he rests were flowers blow
And wanders now no more.”

And in their innocence and bliss,
Beneath the stars that watch and wait
I hope that they will celebrate
My memory with a kiss.

The advancement of supermarkets in the 1970s and 1980s led to the eventual decline of small, privately owned sweet shops that no longer placed orders with Needlers to any great volume and so in 1986, the company was bought out. Anyone with a ‘hunger’ to find out more about Needlers after this ‘sweetener’ is welcome to come into Hull History Centre or search our online catalogue (Link)

Elspeth, Archivist and Librarian

Friday, 10 February 2017

Religion and Heritage on Display

Last week I had the chance to attend the “Religion and Heritage on Display” conference held at the Institute of Archaeology at the UCL in London. How do people practice religion? The term “religion” covers a wide range of thoughts and beliefs, and museums are places where religious artefacts become lifeless objects. That was the main subject behind this conference which gathered a wide range of speakers and professionals from the Heritage and Religion sector.

Marion Browman -
Museum of World Religions project, Birmingham
After the usual coffee and biscuits session, the conference opened up with a magisterial introduction from  Marion Bowman - Museum of World Religions project, Birmingham. She spoke about the importance of religious objects and how these can engage with audiences and faith groups. Marion is also one of the investigators on the “Pilgrimage and England's cathedrals”, a project which studies the interaction between the cathedrals in England and the people who visit them.

Lucy Trench – V&A and Science Museum
Lucy Trench – V&A and Science Museum spoke about the challenges to display religious objects in a very small exhibition space. She had to confront this problem in “Europe 1600 – 1815”, an exhibition which comprises works from 17th to 18th centuries of European art and design.

Another real challenge was to show the diversity of faiths across Europe during those years, for example, how can you mention the Ottoman Empire and Constantinople if the V&A lacks objects from that period?

How a museum should approach religion when museums are not places of worship and veneration. In her new project, she is working with the Welcome Collection and the Science Museum for an exhibition that is going to compare the similarities between how people display faith in religion and science.

I think all the speakers made a good understanding of how we should use religious objects in museums and how we can find new ways to engage with new audiences and religious groups.

I am looking forward to learning more about displaying religious objects in future projects!

Francisco Castanon, 
Transforming Archives trainee

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

What I Wish I Knew Before I Started...

Senate House Library, the venue for the day
Last month we attended What I Wish I Knew Before I Started: The DPC Student Conference in London. This event is held annually by the Digital Preservation Coalition to give archive students and new professionals advice about working in digital preservation, the art of storing computer files to the same quality as we would with paper documents in an archive. 

Digital preservation is a fairly new area of archival studies but an increasingly vital one, as more and more “born digital” content starts to be collected by archives around the world.

The day consisted of two sessions of talks by sector experts. The first session was advice on getting started with digital preservation projects from the perspective of the information managers and technologists responsible for delivering the schemes. The talks covered various subjects, such as how to set up preservation projects, the best places to look for advice, beginners courses and how to keep up to date with the latest developments in the field.

Technologists perspective - Matthew Addis
Matthew Addis - Arkivum told us about the importance to keep the content active and how essential is to managing data overtime and even more how software preservation can preserve an original experience.

The second session was given by practising digital archivists who discussed what their day-to-day job entails, what kinds of challenges they face on a regular basis and what are the most important lessons they could give to anyone starting out in the field.

Open data was another discussion topic touched by Adrian Brown, Director of the Parliamentary Archives. In his presentation, he spoke about the importance of having a simple metadata and filing system and how significant is preserving the accessibility of useful information in a record office, which holds several million historical records relating to Parliament.

But every archive or museum is different, Glenn Cumiskey - The British Museum left a question for the audience: What does digital mean in the context of your organisation? There is a unique meaning for every organisation. He also recommend us few titles to take a look: Practical Digital Preservation by Adrian Brown, Personal Digital Archiving by Gabriela Redwine.

The DCC Lifecycle model - this was
recommended by one of the speakers
The last speaker of the afternoon was Dave Thompson - Digital Curator of the Wellcome Collection. He emphasised that preservation is about access and how understanding our users and can help us to preserve our archives and libraries.

The final session was a roundtable session with all the speakers answering questions from the audience. One important subject that was discussed here was the state of digital preservation in ten years’ time. Many of the experts felt that as more and more digital content begins to move into archives then the idea of digital preservation will become embedded into the concept of curation and records management.

At end of the conference we got the idea that the digital preservation community is open to help people working on similar projects. So, don’t be afraid to ask around for advice, because there’s probably someone out there who’s had exactly the same problem as you have!

Francisco Castanon and Tom Dealey, Transforming Archives trainees

Monday, 30 January 2017

Made in Hull: Born and Bred

Over the years Hull has produced some famous names, like Amy Johnson, Maureen Lipman, Tom Courtney, Mick Ronson and Trevor Bolder. Others, like Philip Larkin, whilst not born here, have nonetheless made the city their home. In this issue of the History Centre’s ‘City of Culture’ blog we look at relatively unknown Hull people who, whilst not famous, still have interesting stories to tell.

The Brave Sailor…Captain Joseph Kendrick

First we meet Joseph Kendrick, born 1847 in Liverpool. Kendrick was a sailor who came to adopt Hull as his home after joining the Wilson Line shipping company in 1869 as a Second Mate. He was a talented sailor and was soon promoted to First Mate in 1872, then Master in the following year. As Master he served on-board various Wilson Line ships, including the Borodino, ARGO, Otto, Toledo, Hero and Rialto. But for our story we are interested in his time as master of the SS Apollo, a steam passenger and cargo ship built in 1865 by Earles Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd of Hull for the Wilson Line.

It was early morning on the 7 March 1882 and there was thick fog in the Bay of Biscay. The Apollo was seemingly alone sailing through the bay. All of a sudden, out of the fog loomed a French Steamer, the Precurseur. There was no time to take avoiding action and the two ships collided, with the French steamer hitting the Apollo mid-ship. The Apollo was destroyed, sinking into the sea, and many of the crew tragically lost their lives. Amazingly, Kendrick, who usually slept in the chart room which was located mid-ship, had decided to sleep in his own cabin, otherwise he would surely have perished with his fellow crew members. The Precurseur managed to remain afloat although it was badly damaged and, in a truly heroic manner, its crew rallied to rescue the surviving crew of the Apollo.

Account of Captain Kendrick pertaining to the wrecking of the SS Apollo [U DX275/1]

We know of this incident because Kendrick wrote an account of that day in 1882. It gives us a first-hand account of the tragedy. The incident was also reported in the newspapers including an article in the Hull Times on 11 Mar 1882. His story gives us an insight into the near misses and tragedies endured by Hull mariners in this period.

The Pacifist Campaigner… Ron Huzzard

From misty seas to campaigns against the fog of war now with the story of Ronald William Huzzard. Born in Hull on 29 February 1920, he studied engineering at Hull Technical College and became a member of the Mechanical Engineers Institute. He was a Quaker and a man of strong principle who believed that what was morally wrong could not be politically right. As such, he was a staunch pacifist, a member of the Labour Pacifist Fellowship (later Labour Action for Peace), and an active campaigner for peace in his work for the trade unions.

Civil Defence Warden Service, Fire Guard Section, Card for Ron Huzzard [C TYR/4/1/20610]

When WWII broke out Huzzard was working as a draughtsman, a reserved occupation, and the War Office attempted to recruit him. He refused to serve on moral grounds and was called before a tribunal to defend his conscientious objection to working for the War Office. Whilst morally unable to help the war effort, he nevertheless wished to help with social effects of war. He served as a Fire Guard under Air Raid Precaution provisions, he also served as a stretcher barer at Beverley Road hospital.

Huzzard’s commitment to peace was life-long. He counted as friends Philip Noel-Baker, Fenner Brockway and Gordon Schaffer, and shared their beliefs in the United Nations as a world body for peace. He was a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, he wrote extensively on the United Nations and a range of other tops for Labour Action for Peace (of which he was appointed General Secretary in 1980). He was awarded the Frank Cousins Peace Award by the Transport and General Workers Union, and after his retirement in 1979 he spent five years working on the Quaker Commission for Peace.

The Botanist and Educator… Eva Crackles

From peace to peas, and a tenuous link to our final story of the botanist Florence Eva Crackles. Known as Eva, she was born in Hull on 23 January 1918. A strong lady, she was an early female student at University College Hull and graduated with a BSc in Botany, Zoology and Mathematics in 1940. She was passionate about her subject and enjoyed sharing this. She worked as a teacher at Malet Lambert High School throughout her career until her retirement in 1978. She also gave evening classes for the Workers Educational Association. In 1991 Eva was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Hull University in recognition of her extensive contribution to botany and teaching.

Photograph of Eva Crackles on the occassion of her recieving an honorary degree for services to botany and education [L DIEC]

Eva was also a great campaigner for her cause. She was a member of the Hull Scientific & Field Naturalists Club (from 1941), and the Yorkshire Naturalists Union (from 1943). She wrote a regular column in the Hull Daily Mail called ‘Crackles Country’, and she was an active champion at public enquiries for threatened sites of special scientific interest in East Yorkshire. In 1992 this work was recognized with the award of an MBE for services to Botany and its conservation.

Its thanks to Eva that we know so much about the flora of East Yorkshire through her collecting of wildflower samples at derelict bombsites in the aftermath of WWII, and through her decades of research which culminated in the publication of ‘The Flora of the East Riding of Yorkshire’ in 1990.

Find Out More...

Brave seafarers, pacifists working for a better world, and campaigners with real passion… these are just some of the characters our city has helped shape. If these stories have piqued your interest and you want to find out more about Hull and its people, you can visit us here at the History Centre.

Claire Weatherall, Assistant Archivist HUA

Monday, 16 January 2017

The Making of Hull

With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Hull 2017, Hull History Centre’s first exhibition of 2017 seeks to tell the story of Hull through its charters.

Hull’s earliest charter is that of King Edward I and dates from 1299. However this was at least a hundred years into the story of our City. During the twelfth century a transhipment point and associated settlement grew up at the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber estuary on the property of nearby Meaux Abbey. This was Wyke-upon-Hull, often referred to just as Hull, and it prospered as a result of the wool export trade to the extent that its potential as a source of revenue and a strategic port became clear to the acquisitive King Edward. Taking shameless advantage of the poverty stricken monks of Meaux, he acquired Wyke, named it Kingston-upon-Hull, and granted it the status of a Free Borough on 1 April 1299. 

C BRC/1 - Charter of King Edward I, 1299

From 1299 onwards, the citizens of Hull received many more charters. Sometimes existing grants were confirmed when regimes changed. Having benefitted from the generosity of the Lancastrian Henry VI, a charter was obtained from the new Yorkist King Edward IV in 1462 confirming the grants of his deposed predecessor. In 1553, when the Roman Catholic Queen Mary I succeeded  her Protestant brother, Hull had his grants confirmed and paid for a very elaborate charter indeed to emphasise Hull’s loyalty to the new, religiously uncongenial regime.

C BRC/22 Illuminated letter from the charter of Queen Mary I, 1553

Other charters made new grants of rights and privileges. Over the course of three centuries, Hull was gradually freed from the control of central government and became a self-governing community of free citizens – ‘burgesses’. Hull obtained the right to elect a Mayor; to defend itself with walls; to monopolise trade in the port to its own burgesses; and to have markets and a fair (now of course Hull Fair). In 1440 it became a county of itself, independent of Yorkshire, and in 1447 the County of Kingston upon Hull was extended to take in Willerby, Kirkella and Hessle. 

Charters didn’t come for free. Although the preamble to many of them states that the Crown was recognising the poverty of the port of Hull, damaged by tidal surges and slumps in trade, we have evidence of the expenses paid out for at least two charters. In 1532, a new charter from Henry VIII cost Hull £31.19s.4d, a considerable sum which included a purse of gold coins and a whole sturgeon for Henry’s notorious adviser Thomas Cromwell.

The Charters’ legal status was largely repealed by the 1834 Municipal Corporations Act. However they remain of crucial significance for what they represent: the development of a great City, the rules by which its citizens lived, and the rights and privileges they enjoyed. 

C BRC Illuminated letter from a 1975 charter

The Hull Charters’ exhibition is at Hull History Centre from 3 January to 24 February 2017. Hull History Centre is open to the public Tuesday - Friday 9.30am - 5.30pm and the first and third Saturday of each month 9am - 4.30pm.

Martin Taylor, City Archivist