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The House on Salthouse Lane

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The Sailors’ Home

The house on Salthouse LaneIn 1856 a group of local worthies met to set up a hostel for seamen on shore leave. A subscription raised £3, 500, and the house on Salthouse Lane was bought. It opened as the Sailors’ Home in 1860, and was to continue in that role for over a century. The 1861 census shows that Peter Sharpe, aged 66 from Lincolnshire, was Manager of the Home, living there with his wife Phoebe, two granddaughters and a servant. There were 18 sailors lodging there on census night, but the census page is damaged and no information remains on their places of origin. Ten years later the Superintendent of the Home was James Richardson, who was to be in the job for about 20 years. He came from Lastingham, Yorkshire, and in 1871 he was 48 years old. He lived at the Home with his wife, Martha, and his daughter Annie. The census shows three servants and 25 sailors in residence. Nine of the sailors were German, five Norwegian, four English, and the rest from Russia, Sweden, Scotland, France, Ireland and Hanover.

A number of annual reports give us a picture of life in the Home. In1874 it was noted that 1, 205 seamen had passed through in the preceding 12 months. It had been necessary to spend £500 on repairs, mainly to the roof. A copy was printed of the card giving terms of admission.

Sailors are provided with board and lodging at 2s. 6d. a day, or 14s. a week. Single meals are charged as follows:-

Breakfast, 9d.
Dinner, 1s.
Tea, 9d.
A night’s lodging, 6d.

Breakfast is ready at 8 o’clock, but can be had, if necessary, between 7 and 9. Dinner is on the table at 12o’clock, where it remains one hour; but if the men are unavoidably absent they can have dinner until 2. Tea is served at 6 o’clock. On Sundays, the dinner hour is half-past 12 o’clock. The house doors are closed at 12, after which no inmate will be admitted without a pass. Any Sailor desirous of leaving his money, clothes, or other property in the Home, when he goes to see his friends, the said property will betaken care of (an inventory being made and signed), and returned to him without any charge.

This last clause was particularly important. There was always great concern that seamen were being robbed or drinking their money away after they had been paid off. The rules, and the prices, continued unchanged until the turn of the century.

On the 1881 census, with James Richardson still in charge, there were three servants and twelve “mariners”; of these, two were American, four Scottish, two from Jersey and the rest English. By 1891 Richardson had retired and his replacement was Thomas Key. On the census we see him with his wife Emily and their six children. At this point there were 13 sailors in residence; two Germans, two Irishmen, two Danes and the rest from Nova Scotia, Sweden, America, Wales, Gibraltar and Russia.

Brown’s “Guide to Hull” of 1891 describes the Sailors’ Home

:… there is accommodation for 85 persons. There are two large dining-halls, a comfortable reading-room and an excellent library. Draughts and other amusing games are at the service of the sailors.

By this date Salthouse Lane was a street mainly of shops and tenements. On the north side Parrot Street led off the Lane, and there were eight courts or entries leading to tenements and houses. Between the Home and the White Hart was a small shop. Next door on the western side was the home and offices of David Wilson J. P. , owner of a steamship company. The rest of the premises on the street consisted of six general shops, three public houses and a long list of small businesses. Also on the north side was the Cogan Charity School.

By 1901 the Sailors' Home was run by a Manageress, Lavinia Ellerby, a 45 year-old widow, who is shown on the census with her son Charles and two servants. There were only seven boarders; three Swedes, two Americans, a Norwegian and a Scot.

When Alfred Gelder Street was built, in 1904, the south side of the Lane was affected much more than the north, and the warren of commercial premises and poor quality housing remained until the 2nd World War. With the opening of the new road, the house was given a new address - 105 Alfred Gelder Street.

The 52nd AGM of the Sailors’ Home in 1917 was held at the newly-built Guildhall. The newspaper reported that “during the past year many sailors have been brought in rescued from ships which have been torpedoed. ” There had been a nightly average of 17 men in the Home. The Mayor called it “a remarkable institution” which “lent encouragement and a good incentive to those who come ashore.”

The 1923 Annual Report gives a list of subscriptions. Individuals and firms gave anything from 5s. to 5 guineas, but most commonly one guinea a year. The total subscribed in the preceding year had been £73. 8s. 6d. , and the Home was, as usual, in the red. The nightly average of inmates was down to just under 15. The vast majority of these were British, but there was a good sprinkling of other nationalities. They could make use of bathrooms with hot and cold water, electric lighting throughout, and a recreation room with a bagatelle table. The Home’s rules had become more elaborate, and the prices had gone up. A night’s lodging now cost one shilling, and dinner was 1/6d. “Respectable females may be admitted to visit their sons and brothers in the Dayrooms, provided it be satisfactorily proved that they are so related. ”Undesirables and drunks could be refused admission to the Home, and a sailor could be thrown out for “drunkenness, noisy conduct, dirty habits or non-compliance with the rules. ” There was a ban on smoking except in the Smoke room, “swearing and all improper language must be entirely avoided”and “all quarrelling and abusive language one to another must be guarded against."” The Superintendent at this point was Mr. Woodhouse, who had been in the job for six months and was considered to have brought about great improvements. Photographs were taken of the front and rear of the building at an unknown date, probably in the 1920’s or 30’s.

In November 1943 the Sailors’ Home was donated to the London-based Missions to Seamen, which modernised it to the design of architects Messrs. Horth and Andrew2 . It was reopened as the Flying Angel Club on September18th 1946. The Hull Daily Mail reported the opening ceremony, at which the Rev. Caspersz from the Missions’ London headquarters said,

How can we hope to compete with other nations unless our ships are well-equipped and the men in them properly housed and fed when in a strange port? We are not a charity institution. We do not regard the merchant seaman as an object of charity, but rather do we go to him in the spirit of Christian service – not to pauperise him.

On the ground floor there was now a lounge, dining room and large kitchen, an entrance hall and office, a toilet, a boiler room and storerooms. On the first and second floors there were “22 cabins affording bunks for 30 seamen, ”according to a survey carried out in 1955, although the original intention had apparently been to provide a number of double rooms to be made available to seamen and their wives. Hot and cold running water was provided in every room, and there were showers and baths on each landing. There was also a flat for the caretaker. At either side of the main house were various outbuildings, including a toilet block.

The 1955 survey showed that the building was in reasonable repair. The roof timbers had suffered from woodworm infestation but were still sound. The roof slating and lead work was in need of repair, and the original brickwork was needed re pointing. The cellar, no longer in use, was reportedly flooded once a year, at the highest tide, to a depth of up to 18 inches, but the dampness did not affect the rest of the building. Some of the original plaster work ceilings remained on the ground floor, as did the main staircase and the white marble fireplace surround in the lounge. The cost of putting things right was estimated at £300.

The Flying Angel Club kept its Salthouse Lane premises for more than 20 years, before new, purpose-built premises were opened on Hedon Road in1969. The house, now a listed building, was compulsorily purchased by the City Council in 1966 and was, for a short period, the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Club; but it was soon empty and during the 1970s and 1980s it saw neglect and decay, and its history was forgotten.

In 1986 the William Sutton Trust, a Housing Association, bought the house and converted it into 12 flats for single people (thus continuing the building’s long association with the unmarried). Of the interior only the staircase remained, but the exterior was returned to its likely original state. The first tenants moved in in June 1988, and the house was officially opened as Alfred Schofield House (named after one of the trustees of the Association) a month later. The building became the nucleus of a new estate on both sides of Salthouse Lane.

The House on Salthouse Lane by Ann Godden - Page 5

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Copyright © 2005 Ann Godden


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