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Hull Maritime volunteer, Julie Corbett delves into the history of Hull's town docks and is part of the Hull Maritime guided walks.

Prince’s Dock

Opened in 1829 and was originally named Junction Dock. This dock linked the Humber Dock (Read more here) and the Dock. These are Hull’s town docks. A waterway that follows outside the line of Hull’s previously demolished towns walls and defensive ditches. You can read about the town walls here.

View over Prince's Dock from the Murdock Connection (Bridge)

The water is very serene today, but I remember large yachts and trawlers berthed here. The dock was closed in 1968 and the two locks sealed.

Pavement on Prince's Dock side depicting in contrast brick work the position of Hull's town walls

Queen Victoria and the royal consort Prince Albert’s visit 1854

This visit could be sub-titled the ‘great naming’ visit. The Dock was renamed Queen’s Dock in honour of Queen Victoria and Junction Dock renamed Prince’s Dock in Prince Albert honour. Not only that but Queen Victoria Dock got its name, Prince Albert Dock (from West Dock) and Corporation Pier became Victoria Pier. You can read much more detail of the visit in Sheahan’s General and Concise history and description of the town and port of Kingston-upon-Hull. I found the most fascinating part was that the royal party took a trip in the royal steamer-yacht ‘Fairy’ from Victoria half-dock basin down the river Hull (Old harbour) into Queen’s Dock then through Prince’s Dock and the Humber Dock then stopping at Victoria Pier before sailing onto Grimsby. What a wonderful thing that would be today.

If you do one of the free maritime walks you can almost follow that route. You can find out more about the guided walks here.

Princes Quay

View from Monument Bridge

In 1991, the shopping centre and multi-storey carpark, built on slits in the dock, was opened. The floors are referred to as ‘decks’ and the external shape is designed to resemble aspects of a ship. There is an informative article about the construction and the piling operation in The Arup Journal which you can read here. The details of how much silt had built up on the floor of the dock is surprising.

In the water

You will often see people looking down from Monument Bridge into the water. If you look you might see the carp that live in the dock. The dock is now fully fresh water, replenished by rainwater. I have heard that a connection between the dock and the fishponds in Queens Gardens exists. That the large carp in the dock are escapees grown too large to return. This is a lovely but untrue urban myth. In 2010 the dock was stocked with new fish to help control algal growths. These fish were ghost and gold carp, rudd and golden orfe.