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In this blog, maritime volunteer Julie Corbett delves into the history of St Andrew's Dock.

St Andrew's Quay Retail Park and the remaining portion of the dock and lock pit always seem bigger than I remember them. In the early sixties, I often walked from Madeley Street (Grandparents' home) to the end near the Lord Line Building.

My grandad was an engineer on the trawlers. My nana and two of her sisters cleaned offices on the dock. The visits were to pick up wages and I recall waiting in a queue at a dark, wood-panelled place very much like a bank.

St Andrew's Dock (dry side)

On my visits, I was also frequently ‘told off’ for getting too close to either the mooring ropes or the edge of the dock. I still like to watch water dripping from mooring ropes and the rainbow patches of oil on the water's surface.

The City Memorial to the lost trawlermen of Hull.

This memorial stands at the other end of the dock. This part was an extension to the original dock and was completed in 1897. St Andrew’s dock itself opened in 1883. Originally the dock was just for coal exports from the South Yorkshire coalfields but was always exclusively used for Hull’s fishing fleet.

The story behind the change is too complex for this blog but the increase in the size of coal-transporting vessels, contentious relationships between different railway and dock companies and the discovery of a rich fishing ground seventy miles off Spurn Point (Silver Pits) all played their part.

Remains of the wooden quay St Andrew's Dock

I have been unable to find when the wooden quay was built. Its addition would mean vessels could moor next to the dock without waiting for suitable tidal conditions to enter through the lock gates.

Closed outer lock pit gates

St Andrew’s Dock closed in 1975 after the decline of the fishing fleet based in Hull. The reasons for the decline of the industry are partly related to national boundaries around fishing areas, the changes in fishing with the use of factory ships and super trawlers and quota systems which protect fish stocks. Other factors included the price of oil and declining fish stocks, meaning longer trips became less and less profitable.

Hull went in a few decades from having one of the largest fleets of distant water trawlers in the world to a handful of trawlers which relocated to the nearby Albert Dock.

Memorials at the bullnose of St Andrew's Dock

A bullnose of a dock is any rounded edge of docksides. This is the outer bullnose of St Andrew’s Dock. This is also a site of memorials to lost fishermen and the Bullnose Memorial there was officially opened in 1993.

View of the Humber Estuary towards the mouth from St Andrew's Quay

The bulk of the dock was filled in and developed as a retail park after 1985. On this warm and calm day, I find it impossible to imagine the harsh conditions that fishermen endured on their trips. Those stories are not mine to tell. More than six thousand men were lost whilst fishing. Trawlers and men were lost in the Humber and the North Sea as well as in those distant fishing grounds around Iceland.

Understandably the area that remains most recognisable as St Andrew’s Dock raises emotion. There are people still alive who sailed on trawlers from here and more who continue to commemorate the sacrifices made in the fishing industry. The area around the bullnose is a conservation area but unfortunately has been subject to vandalism and is becoming derelict.

Remains of some of St Andrew's Dock buildings

A local heritage group STAND (more details here) commissioned the St Andrew’s Memorial Books. These record the thousands of fishermen who were lost during peacetime whilst sailing from the Port of Hull. These are currently at The Hull History Centre and will be on display at the Hull Maritime Museum when it reopens.

This place and the surrounding area of Hessle Road were central to Hull’s social, cultural, and economic history. I remember that vibrancy, but I also recall visiting when I was seven. That was 1968. It was during the time Hull got the news of the loss of the three trawlers: St. Romanus, Kingston Peridot, and Ross Cleveland.

The maritime project in particular the re-berthing of the trawler Arctic Corsair (more here) at the North End shipyard (more here) continues to honour the legacy of the men who sailed from Hull to catch fish and also the women, families and wider community that supported the industry.