Old Images of Hull, UK: Hull’s History in Archive Film

Categorised as East Riding of Yorkshire
Old illustration of Kingston upon Hull, published by T. Malton of 34 Rathbone Place, London, on 1st November 1780
Old illustration of Kingston upon Hull, published by T. Malton of 34 Rathbone Place, London, on 1st November 1780. From the Topographical Collection of George III at the British Library, digitised and uploaded to Flikr.

Glimpse history through old images of the UK city of Kingston upon Hull, usually called Hull.

In 2017, Kingston upon Hull, generally referred to as Hull, was the UK City of Culture. The awarding judges described their selection of Hull for this honour because the city had “the most compelling case based on its theme as a city coming out of the shadows“.

But today we’ll look back to Hull’s past.


Hull In Edwardian Times

Hull Fair 1902

Each October sees the arrival of Hull Fair to Kingston upon Hull. It’s one of Europe’s largest travelling funfairs. At 4 pm on the Friday afternoon closest to 11 October, the fair opens. Visitors are entertained every afternoon and evening for a week, except for Sunday’s day of rest. At 12am of the Saturday eight days later, the fair closes and starts packing up.

We’re very lucky to have had this tradition recorded as early as 1902, barely a handful of years after the invention of the film camera.

1902 Time Machine – Hull Circus/Fair in England (Speed Corrected w/ Sound) – guy jones on YouTube

St James’s Church 1902

More film footage from 1902 shows the large congregation of Hull’s St. James Church leaving through the main entrance in their Sunday best.

As with the fair scenes above, this footage has been slowed down and had sound effects added.

1902 England – Congregation Leaving Church (Speed Corrected w/ Sound) – guy jones on YouTube


Hull in the 1920s

Railway Export 1927

In 1927, film cameras captured the moment some of the 56 Pullman railway cars were loaded onto the freight ship Beljeanne at Kingston upon Hull, destined for service in India.

Loading of Pullman cars at Hull (1927) – British Pathé on YouTube

New Dock Gate 1927

When this huge dock gate was launched into the water in 1927, the compressed air meant it floated so well several workmen could stand on it.

Dock gate launches at Hull (1927) – British Pathé on YouTube

Warehouse Fire 1929

The Johnson’s warehouse was destroyed by fire in 1929.

Big Fire At Hull (1929) – British Pathé on YouTube

Prince George’s Visit 1929

In 1929, Prince George flew to Hull to open the new municipal Aerodrome, University College, and Exhibition. The clip was filmed from an akward angle showing the Prince struggling to get out of his biplane, but then he goes to deliver a speech to the substantial crowds.

Hull Civic Week (1929) – British Pathé on YouTube

1920s Gravity Rail

The 1920s railway sidings were built on the hill so the freight wagons could be rolled down the slope by gravity.

Railway Sidings – Hull (1920-1929) – British Pathé on YouTube


Hull in the 1930s

Dorothy Mackaill, Hull’s Hollywood Star

Dorothy Mackaill was a big Hollywood star in 1930. After eleven years living in America, she visited her native Hull, and huge numbers of the city’s residents turned out to see her.

While the cameras came to film the large crowds of wellwishers covering every pavement and road space possible, there are some lovely views of the city’s central streets and the old vehicles waiting for the crowds to disperse.

“The Most Kissable Girl In Hollywood” (1930) – British Pathé on YouTube

Amy Johnson, Hull’s Famous Pilot

Also visiting her native Kingston upon Hull in 1930 was Miss Amy Johnson, CBE.

She was referred to as Johnnie, and her plane was called Jason. Once she had landed and accepted a bouquet of flowers, Amy Johnson was driven into the city centre to the City Hall, where yet more crowds of excited people were waiting to greet her.

Miss Amy Johnson at Hull (1930) – British Pathé on YouTube

Dock Thieves 1933

Pilfering was clearly a problem in Hull’s many acres of docks, so in 1933 the police introduced sniffer dogs trained to detect and tackle trespassers.

Watch Dogs! Real Ones – At Hull (1933) – British Pathé on YouTube

Regal Cinema 1933

The Right Hon The Lord Mayor of Kingston upon Hull, Alderman J. Malcolm Dossor J.P., formally laid the founation stone for the Regal Cinema at Ferensway on 4th October 1933.

This newsreel showed the cinema’s steel framework, and the completed building, designed by architect Robert Cromie, along with glimpses of Ferensway.

The opening ceremony was advertised as Friday, January 26th, 1934, at 7.30pm.

See How It Grew (1933) – British Pathé on YouTube

Queen’s Gardens 1935

The Queen’s Gardens were opened in 1935 by Mr Herbert Morrison, Labour politician and leader of the London City Council. Along with the city’s Mayor and lots of dignitaries, many local people turned out for the opening ceremony.

The 22 acres of pleasure gardens were created by filling in the Queen’s Dock. The statue dedicate to anti-slavery campaigner Wilberforce was moved to the Queen’s Gardens in time for the opening.

Hull’s New Gardens Opened (1935) – British Pathé on YouTube

Lost Fishermen 1935

In 1935, 13 fishermen were killed when the Edgar Wallace fishing boat struck a sandbank in the Humber, capsized, and sank.

Trawler Disaster At Hull News In A Nutshell (1935) – British Pathé on YouTube

Hull Fair 1938

A newsreel item captures some of the fun of the 1938 fair rides.

Hull Fair (1938) – British Pathé on YouTube


Hull in the 1940s

Hull During World War II

The World War 2 air raids, known as The Blitz, wasn’t just an ordeal for London. Hull was one of the many northern communities to suffer bomb damage.

  • More than 1,200 people killed during air raids on the city
  • More than 3,000 people injured
  • More than 3/4 of Hull’s properties damaged or destroyed

Hull’s Blitz

This video is an extract from Duncan Grosser’s film “The Commando Years”, showing air raid damage in Hull, Yorkshire.

Hull during the Blitz – Duncan Grosser on YouTube

School Athletics 1947

The Schools Athletic Association championships at Kingston-upon-Hull were filmed for a newsreel in 1947.

1,000 competitors from 23 counties attended, and they paraded before the Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding, Lord Middleton.

One Minute News (1947) – British Pathé on YouTube


Hull In The 1950s

Sea trading at Hull started in the 13th century, and the Port of Hull is still busy with imports and passenger transport today. But the heyday of the 1950s captured in the videos below are long gone, especially following the closure of the Town Docks, Victoria Dock, and St Andrew’s Dock in the 1970s.

Hull Docks 1959

This video shows old footage of Hull docks in 1959, which are busy with the loading and unloading of many ships.

Hull Docks, 1959 – Film 96504 – HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube


Hull In The 1960s

Polio Epidemic 1961

In 1961, polio struck in Kingston upon Hull, with 53 cases quickly emerging.

The authorities needed to vaccinate the city’s whole population of more than 300,000 people as quickly as possible.

52 emergency clinics were opened, and local residents stood patiently in long lines waiting for their oral dose of two drops soaked into a sugar cube.

The identified and suspected polio victims were sent to Castle Hill Hospital. We see the small, floppy legs of the young victims demonstrated as they lay in their hospital beds and cots, without their parents nearby.

War On Polio! (1961) – British Pathé on YouTube

From the Air

An aerial shot of the port of Kingston upon Hull, showing a little of the city in the 1960s.

Kingston Upon Hull port from the air. – HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube

1960s King George Dock

The King George Dock in Hull, Yorkshire, was the largest dock handling large ships when this footage was recorded in the 1960s.

We see timber from Canada being unloaded by crane and transported away by a Hollis Bros truck, along with grain unloaded from a ship via the grain elevator, and an overhead view of the wool warehouse.

King George Dock Hull, 1960s – Film 98419 – HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube

Hessle Road 1966

In 1966, a shaky home cine film captured a family’s fruit shop near St. George’s Road, and their stall and ice cream trailer near Boyes. From the flat upstairs, we get a view across Hessle Road, the businesses there at the time, and people going about their daily lives.

HESSLE ROAD 1966 FRUIT SHOP – davshelgo on YouTube

Three Lost Trawlers 1968

In 1968, three of Hull’s trawlers sank and three more were stranded in the unbearably cold waters of Iceland, causing the death of 59 men.

The government told the trawlermen not to go into the restricted Arctic waters, but they continued anyway. The good money they earned from their large catch encouraged them to accept the dangers, despite the terrible weather conditions.

This newsreel shows fish being sold at Billingsgate Market in London, along with different shots of the fish trade in Hull.

Also in London was Mrs Lillian Bilocca and some of the other widows of the trawlermen, known as the “headscarf revolutionaries”, who wanted great improvements in safety measures to protect the fishermens’ lives.

Mrs Bilocca died of cancer in 1988, at the age of 59. Because of her campaign work trying to improve standards in a notoriously dangerous profession, she lost her job with a Wassand Street fish merchant and was blacklisted from the industry.

Hull – Trawler Men Aka 3 Trawlers Lost At Sea – Wives Demand Stricter Safety Measures (1968) – British Pathé on YouTube


Hull In The 1970s

Regent Cinema

The Kinemacolour Palace opened on Christmas Eve, 1910, and was renamed the Regent Cinema in 1919.

The cinema was run by successive generations of the Freeman family until its closure in 1978, a decade which saw many cinemas across the UK disappear. TV ownership had now become common, and audiences were too small to sustain maintenance of the large and ornate picture palaces.

The Regent Cinema building was eventually sold to local boxing legend Wally Mays, who turned it into a Roller Disco in 1980. Several years later the entire building was demolished and rebuilt as a pub-restaurant, except for the frontage, which still remains.

This video, showing a montage of 8mm home movies over several years, was made by one of the Regent Cinema’s former projectionists, who had joined as a trainee projectionist in September 1967 at the age of 15. Despite the long hours and low wages, he loved his job here.

Regent Cinema Hull – 1970s – MrNeelix2009 on YouTube

1970s Ferry Journey

Stanley Richardson, who was born in 1912 and died in 1988, filmed these scenes on his cine camera travelling from Hull to the Netherlands during the 1970s.

Stanley’s Travels: Ferry From Hull To Amsterdam (1970s) – Adnylak on YouTube


Kingston upon Hull In The 1980s

Hessle Road 1985

Don’t be put off by the slow start to this video, which was made by students of the Somerset Street video workshop in 1985.

It’s a rough edit – but oh my, this is an absolute gem.

It includes personal recounts of people who fled to shelter at St Andrew’s Church during the World War II bombing raids on the city, a short interview with an elderly man about his days as a teenage apprentice on the fishing boats, glimpses of lots of local people going about their daily activities, and some great shots of the Hessle Road homes and businesses as they were in 1985.

Hessle road 1985 – PAUL WHITTLETON on YouTube


Hull In The 1990s

Hull’s Buses 1990

In April 1990, this footage was recorded just outside the railway station, showing passengers and buses in great quantity, with some lovely close ups of passers by.

Then a shopping street is shown, followed by the bus station, and then a very busy main road with cyclists and drivers too.

HULL BUSES APRIL 1990 – DaveSpencer32 on YouTube

1996 Drive

In 1996, Robert Ambrose recorded one of his regular drives from Northgate, Hessle, to Hull Paragon Station, on a Hi-8 camera.

There are plenty of local streets, businesses, homes, landmarks and people to see along the journey.

Driving from Hessle to Hull Paragon Station – 1996 – RetroStreets on YouTube


Old Pictures of Hull

Enjoy a video compilation of old photographs of Hull, from a wide range of past times and locations, set to music.

Kingston Upon Hull: All Those Years Ago – High Flying Bird on YouTube

Next, another video showcasing old photos of Hull in the UK, set to music.

PHOTOGRAPHS OF OLD HULL 3 – nickladey on YouTube

Promotional video for the facebook group ‘Hull & Yorkshire Memories’. A short film of Yorkshire scenery set to music.

Hull & Yorkshire Memories on Facebook – Michelle Coldham, Hull & Yorkshire Memories on YouTube


Old Photos Of Hull People


Thanks to people from the Facebook group ‘Hull The Good Old Days’ contributing their old family photographs, nickladey has compiled a short film of photographs set to music.

OLD HULL PEOPLE.wmv – nickladey on YouTube


Local History of Hull

Hull: Guide and History – Around & About Yorkshire on YouTube

More about Yorkshire

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