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

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Welcome to 2017 at Hull History Centre!

It’s finally here, Hull is City of Culture 2017! As we all return to work today, we thought we would take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy and culture-filled new year. And welcome back to the 2017 History Centre blog.


This year, in addition to the posts from our Transforming Archives trainees, there will be posts themed to tie-in with the City of Culture programming. Throughout the year, events will be planned in line with four different strands: January to March highlights all things ‘Made in Hull’; April to June sees the city explore ‘Roots and Routes’; July to September has the city celebrating ‘Freedom’; and October to December rounds off the year with ‘Tell the World’.

A new History Centre blog post will appear on a regular basis (hopefully every second Monday). We will be taking inspiration from the archives to tell unknown tales and to highlight historical happenings from new and interesting angles. So keep an eye out, you might discover something you never knew about our city and its people!

One of our readers discovering lots of interesting stories!

To start us off, this blog is going to introduce you to our ‘Made in Hull’ theme, as well as some of our upcoming events.

Over the coming weeks you will learn about the making of our city, its origins, foundation and the rights afforded to its citizens. You will find out about the individuals who have been born in Hull, and those whose experiences of living here have helped form their character and work. You will also discover little-known stories of our manufacturing industries and the workers that made them successful.

You might also be interested to know that we will be showcasing an exhibition of Hull’s royal charters, rarely seen in the flesh (google ‘velum’ and ‘parchment’ to understand the ‘flesh’ reference…)! The exhibition will run from 3rd January to 24th February 2017 and entrance is completely free.

A sneak preview of our 'Making of Hull: Our Charters' Exhibition

At the end of January, there will be a mini-exhibition at the University of Hull’s newly revamped Middleton Hall. The exhibition is in support of a retrospective on the life of Anthony Minghella which is being organised by the University. It will also mark the launch of the Anthony Minghella Archive [Ref U DTM] here at the History Centre. This will be the first time his papers have been made accessible to the public.

Our long-running Lunchtime Club lectures will start up again on 10th January with a talk by our very own Martin Taylor on ‘Hull Charters’. On 14th February we will be joined by David Neave who will be speaking on ‘The Makers of the Edwardian City – Sir Alfred Gelder and Joseph Hirst’. Will May shall be rounding off the ‘Made in Hull’ talks on 14th March with his talk ‘Stevie Smith: Hull’s Forgotten Poet’.

Lunchtime lecture in full swing!

Our ‘History Makers’ events will be back on 7th January with an exploration of ‘Medieval Hull’. We will be unwrapping our sweet and chocolatey heritage on 4th February with the ‘Needlers Unwrapped’ event. We will be jumping through a ‘Magic Door’ to the past with the work of Dan Billany on 4th March.

Last but not least, whilst we say goodbye to our History Bakers series from 2016, it will be replaced with something new and a bit different. Still on the ‘Made in Hull’ theme, we will be running a secret twitter and web campaign throughout the year. It’s going to be 'woolly good fun' (that’s a clue) and we want lots of people to get involved! Check out HullWoollyZoo to find out more….

First resident of our 'Hull Woolly Zoo'

There may be other ‘Made in Hull’ stuff, as yet unannounced, so keep an eye out on our events pages...

History Centre Team