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Maritime Media Volunteer, Ray Stephens visited the museum and talks about a particular painting that caught his eye.

One of the pleasures of volunteering at the Maritime Museum, during its closure for refurbishment, is that you are able to look in a little more detail at items you have seen many times before.

One of those that caught my eye this past week was the painting by William Fleming Wallace of The Old Hull Pier. A reflection on bygone times when the pier, apart from being used for commercial purposes, was also used by ferries which crossed the Humber on a regular daily basis. It is the latter that interests me.

The Old Hull Pier By William Fleming Wallace 1827 1904 Resized
The Old Hull Pier painting

The Old Hull pier in the painting, now known as Victoria Pier, was where a ferry ran to New Holland in Lincolnshire.

Ferries, in fact, had been crossing the Humber since Roman times, or perhaps before then, but they were all to the west of Hull between Barton and Brough and North and South Ferriby.

The first Hull ferries were not actually established until 1320 and it must have been a fairly hazardous affair navigating the perils of the Humber, with its treacherous sandbanks which lurk beneath its waters.

Victoria Pier Nelson Street Hull 1893
Victoria Pier Nelson Street Hull 1893

It wasn't until 1826 that a regular New Holland to Hull ferry was established. The first pier for this service was built in 1847 and was known as Corporation Pier and opened on 1st March 1848. It was operated by Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railways (MSLR). In October 1854 Queen Victoria visited Hull and on 14 October she sailed for Grimsby from the pier. Its name was then changed to Victoria Pier in honour of her visit.

Embarkation Of Her Majesty At Hull 1854
Embarkation Of Her Majesty At Hull, 1854

In Nelson Street, opposite the pier, is Pier Station, which is one of the few British Rail ticket offices never to have sold a ticket for a train. The reason being is that it was the ticket office for the ferry which was, from 1948, run by MSLR. Sadly, the ferry service ended, and the Pier Station, closed in 1981.

The reason was the opening of the splendid Humber Bridge the same year and, therefore, no need further need for the ferry. Sad, because for many people and their families a trip on the ferry was a fun day out.

Humber Bridge From Hessle Foreshore Ray Stephens December 2018
Humber Bridge from Hessle Foreshore Ray Stephens, December 2018

As much as I am always impressed by the splendour of crossing the Humber Bridge in my car, I can't help thinking what fun it would have been to cross by the ferry!