Kingston upon Hull, better known as Hull, is a city in the ceremonial county of the East Riding of Yorkshire; it stands on the northern bank of the Humber estuary at its junction with the River Hull, 25 miles (40 kilometres) inland from the North Sea; it was renamed King's town upon Hull by King Edward I in 1299, the town and city of Hull has served as market town, military supply port, a trading hub, fishing and whaling centre and industrial metropolis.
The valley of the River Hull has been inhabited since the early Neolithic period but there is little evidence of a substantial settlement in the area of the present city; the general area was attractive to early developers because it gave access to a prosperous hinterland and navigable rivers, but the actual site was not good, as it was remote and low-lying with no fresh water; it was originally an outlying part of the hamlet of Myton, named Wyke; the name is thought to originate either from a Scandinavian word Vik meaning creek, or from the Saxon Wic meaning dwelling place or refuge
In his Guide to Hull (1817), J.C. Craggs provides a colourful background to Edward's acquisition and naming of the town; he writes that the King and a hunting party started a hare which "led them along the delightful banks of the River Hull to the hamlet of Wyke … [Edward], charmed with the scene before him, viewed with delight the advantageous situation of this hitherto neglected and obscure corner. He foresaw it might become subservient both to render the kingdom more secure against foreign invasion, and at the same time greatly to enforce its commerce". Pursuant to these thoughts, Craggs continues, Edward purchased the land from the Abbot of Meaux, had a manor hall built for himself, issued proclamations encouraging development within the town, and bestowed upon it the royal appellation, King's Town.
The River Hull was a good haven for shipping, whose main trade was in the export of wool from the abbey; in 1293 the town was acquired from the abbey by King Edward I, who on the 1st April 1299 granted it a royal charter that renamed the settlement King's town upon Hull, or Kingston upon Hull; the charter is preserved in the archives of the city's Guildhall; the port served as a base for Edward I during the First War of Scottish Independence and later developed into the foremost port on the east coast of England.
Hull prospered by exporting wool and woollen cloth and importing wine; it also established a flourishing commerce with the Baltic ports as part of the Hanseatic League; from its mediaeval beginnings, Hull's main trading links were with Scotland and northern Europe, Scandinavia, the Baltic and the Low Countries were all key trading areas for Hull's merchants; in addition, there was trade with France, Spain and Portugal.
As sail power gave way to steam, Hull's trading links extended throughout the world; docks were opened to serve the frozen meat trade of Australia, New Zealand and South America; it was also the centre of a thriving inland and coastal trading network, serving the whole of the United Kingdom.
The increase in trade after the discovery of the Americas and the town's maritime connections are thought to have played a part in the introduction of a virulent strain of syphilis through Hull and on into Europe from the New World.
The town prospered during the 16th and early 17th centuries, and Hull's affluence at this time is preserved in the form of several well maintained buildings from the period, including Wilberforce House, now a museum documenting the life of William Wilberforce.
During the English Civil War, Hull became strategically important because of the large arsenal located there; very early in the war, on the 11th January 1642, the king named the Earl of Newcastle governor of Hull whilst Parliament nominated Sir John Hotham and asked his son, Captain John Hotham, to secure the town at once; Sir John Hotham and Hull corporation declared support for Parliament and denied Charles I entry into the town; Charles I responded to these events by besieging the town; this siege helped precipitate open conflict between the forces of Parliament and those of the Royalists.
Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century and leading up to the first World War, the Port of Hull played a major role in the transmigration of Northern European settlers to the New World, with thousands of emigrants sailing to the city and stopping for administrative purposes before travelling on to Liverpool and then North America.
Parallel to this growth in passenger shipping was the emergence of the Wilson Line of Hull; founded in the city in 1825 by Thomas Wilson; by the early 20th century the company had grown, largely through its monopolisation of North Sea passenger routes and later mergers and acquisitions, to be the largest privately owned shipping company in the world, with over 100 ships sailing to different parts of the globe; the Wilson Line was sold to the Ellerman Line, which itself was owned by Hull born magnate, and the richest man in Britain at the time, Sir John Ellerman.
Whaling also played a major role in the town's fortunes up until the mid-19th century and Hull's prosperity peaked in the decades just before the First World War; it was during this time, in 1897, that city status was granted; after the decline of the whaling industry, emphasis shifted to deep-sea trawling until the Anglo-Icelandic Cod War of 1975 to 1976; the conditions set at the end of this dispute initiated Hull's economic decline.
The city's port and industrial facilities, coupled with its proximity to mainland Europe and ease of location being on a major estuary, led to extremely widespread damage by bombing raids during World War II; much of the city centre was destroyed and 95% of its houses were damaged or destroyed, making it the most severely bombed British city or town, apart from London, during World War II; more than 1,200 people died in air raids on the city and some 3,000 others were injured; the worst of the bombing occurred in 1941.
Little was known about this destruction by the rest of the country at the time, since most of the radio and newspaper reports did not reveal Hull by name but referred to it as "a North-East town" or "a northern coastal town"; most of the city centre was rebuilt in the years following the war, but as recently as 2006 researchers found documents in the local archives that suggested an unexploded wartime bomb might be buried beneath The Boom Hotel & Multi Storey Car Park, a major new planned redevelopment.
The city centre is west of the River Hull and close
to the Humber and is built upon alluvial and glacial deposits which
overlie chalk rocks; the land within the city is generally very flat
and is only 6.5 to 13 feet (2 to 4 metres) above sea level; though,
some areas of Hull lie on reclaimed land at, or below, sea level; due
to the relative flatness of the site there are few physical constraints
upon building and many open areas are the subject of pressures to build.
The River Hull Tidal Surge Barrier:
The Tidal Surge Barrier is at the point where the River Hull joins the Humber estuary and is lowered at times when unusually high tides are expected; it is used between 8 and 12 times per year and protects the homes of approximately 10,000 people from flooding; due to its low level, Hull is expected to be at increasing levels of risk from flooding due to global warming.
Many areas of Hull were flooded during
the June 2007 United Kingdom floods, with 8600 homes and 1300 businesses
affected; it was also affected by serious floods in 1953, 1954 and
the winter of 1959.
The Holy Trinity Church:
Unlike many other English cities, Hull has no cathedral; it is actually in the Diocese of York and has a Suffragan bishop.
However, Hull's Holy Trinity Church is the largest parish church in England if floor area is used as the measurement of comparison; the church dates back to about 1300.
Hull forms part of the Southern Vicariate of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough.
Included amongst Hull's Catholic churches
is St Charles Borromeo, the oldest post Reformation Roman Catholic church
in the city.
It is a large underwater aquarium situated at Sammy's Point, at the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber estuary.
It opened in March 2002, billed as the world's only submarium, the tanks contain 550,000 gallons of water, 96 tons of salt and 1000s of sea creatures including 7 species of shark.
As well as a tourist attraction, it is a centre for marine research; behind the scenes a team of dedicated marine biologists look after all of the animals in the collection as well as carrying out vital research into the marine environment.
It is housed in an iconic structure designed
by Sir Terry Farrell and built as part of the UK National Lottery's
Millennium Commission project.