Hull's Maritime History


During the late 12th century, when the monks of Meaux needed a port to export wool from their estates, they chose a spot at the junction of the rivers Hull and Humber to build a quay and named it Wyke upon Hull. In the late 13th century Edward I acquired Hull, and in the 1299 Charter the settlement was called Kingston (King’s Town) upon Hull. The King set about enlarging Hull and built an exchange where merchants could buy and sell goods.

Hull's trade continued to develop as the power structures in Europe altered and by the late 17th century trade was booming. This caused problems as the River Hull was unable to cope with the volume of traffic and there were problems with it silting up. This eventually resulted in the development of new docks in the 18th century, and Hull prospered through the export of goods from the manufacturing towns of Yorkshire.

Trading links

From its medieval beginnings, Hull’s main trading links have been 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 some trade with France, Spain and Portugal. As sail power gave way to steam, so Hull’s trading links extended throughout the world. Docks like Alexandra Dock were specifically opened to serve the frozen meat trade of Australia, New Zealand and South America. Hull was also the centre of a thriving inland and coastal trading network, serving the whole of the United Kingdom.

Fishing and Maritime links

Hull has a rich fishing and maritime past and many seamen have passed through the port of Hull during its long history. Fishermen have been operating out of Hull since the 16th century and Hull also has a strong whaling heritage. Over the years communities and institutions have developed in Hull to aid and assist sailors and their families.