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The Growth of Hessle Road - 1880

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Hessle Road - 1880s Expansion

The shape of Hessle Road during the C20th was largely the result of the rapid expansion which occurred during the 1880s which finally swept away any remains of the rural environment that had so far survived. The last remaining open land in 1882 being an area between Division Road and Dairycoates and the South Myton Cricket Ground, between Liverpool Street and the railway line. Both were soon to be engulfed as new streets and shops quickly filled these final open spaces.

The growth of Hull was fairly rapid, as can be seen by this table:

Hull population growth
Decade
Population
1870
119,000
1880
151,000
1890
214,000

Needless to say, a very rapid development in Hull's suburbs was needed to keep pace with this growth. This particularly effected the Hessle Road area as people flocked to the new jobs created by the opening of St Andrew's Dock in 1883. The directories of the mid to late 1880s period clearly show how the streets to the south of Hessle Road were dominated with families connected to the docks and fishing industries. Naturally, Dairycoates continued to boom with the further expansion of the railways and Chalk Lake (now Hawthorne Avenue) expanded rapidly to cater for the new layers of railway workers.

Primiative Methodist Chapel, Hessle RoadThe directory of 1885 shows that the frontage of Hessle Road was almost exclusively occupied by small shopkeepers as the population of the area became so densely packed. The need for more churches saw the building of the impressive Primitive Chapel (now the City Temple) on the corner of Madely Street (1881) and the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on the corner of St Georges Road (1883). It was well know in Victorian times that the size of a community could be judged by the number of its churches.

The commercial growth of the area saw the opening of the road's first bank, the London & Yorkshire Banking Company, at Brunswick house close to St Barnabus Church. The popularity of the tramway also saw the Hull Street Tramway Company opening a large stables, a blacksmiths, shoeing shed and saddle room on the corner of Regent Street.

The rapid transformation saw the quiet country road of the 1860's and 1870's become, possibly, the busiest road in Hull and built up all the way to the Dairycoates rail crossing. An extract from 'The Critic' newspaper illustrates the nature of the developed street:

. . . On Saturday nights especially, when the moving mass of people may be described as like unto a fair in numbers, such persons as desire to progress quickly had better avoid the main thoroughfare . . .

Unfortunately, the area was also poverty stricken. The bulk of the population lived in cramped houses down streets branching off the main road. An incredibly high birth rate - 54 per 1000 in the Newington area - significantly contributed to the serious overcrowding. An 'Early Morning News' investigation of the slums around Hessle Road during 1883/1884 reported the area to be:

" . . . as bad as the foulest slums in Constantinople".
Many streets were overflowing with sewerage. The houses were small, filthy and squalid with the only furniture in many being boxes and straw. In a number of cases animals, horses, pigs and sheep, shared the houses with the human occupants. A high number of pawnbrokers sprang up along the full length of the road and in numerous side streets. The worst conditions were, however, slowly improving through to the 1890s, but life was extremely difficult for most.

The development of Hull's Transport Network

Growth of Hull 1856 to 1995

Hessle Road - 1890 to WW1



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A very special thanks to Hull Local Studies Library for their help with our research projects.