Blaydes House is one of the stops on the maritime guided walks delivered by accredited White Badge tour guides.
Here's more information on Blaydes House by Sam Wright, Hull Maritime volunteer and Dr Martin Wilcox.
Background and Construction
Home of the Blaydes, one of Hull’s most significant merchant families, Blaydes House remains one of the best-preserved merchant houses in Hull. Its position on the western bank of the river Hull reflects both the status of the family, and the maritime work from which the family took its fortune.
The private alley or staithe that runs along the righthand side of the building further emphasises the status and power of merchant families within the port of Hull. The exact period of construction is virtually impossible to confirm, primarily since the family left very little evidence behind when they left Hull in the early 19th century.
However, it probably contains at least two phases of construction, with the rear of the building older than the front which sits on High Street. Most authorities agree that it was partially reconstructed sometime around 1750-60, with the core of the building having been dated to c.1725.
However, local architectural historian David Neave believes that at least part of the rear of it is seventeenth century, and some architectural details like the shape of the gabling here does support this.
Function and History
Like many a merchant’s town house, Blaydes House served three principal functions. Firstly, it was a place of business, reflecting the family’s maritime activity.
Secondly, Blaydes House was a family residence, with living rooms on the ground and first floor, family bedrooms on the east side of the first floor, and the servants’ quarters and probable nursery at the top of the building.
The third and least obvious function of the building was as an advertisement. The grandeur of the building was deliberately designed to showcase the wealth and status of the family, and to demonstrate that the Blaydes were the sort of people with whom it paid to do business. After the Blaydes left Hull, the building passed through a variety of owners and functions.
During its life it has housed a seed-crushing firm, timber importer, solicitor’s firm, lighterage company and architect’s practice, before falling vacant sometime around 1990. Although Blaydes House escaped serious damage in World War II, its deteriorating condition led to its owners applying to the council to have it demolished in May 1968.
However, the Georgian Society for East Yorkshire purchased the building and carried out substantial restoration work, partly in contribution to the European Architectural Heritage year in 1975.
In November 1999, Blaydes House was purchased by the Maritime History Trust, for the sum of £1 and then worked with the University of Hull to become the home of a new Maritime Historical Studies Centre, formally opening in summer 2001. Since then, Blaydes Maritime Centre, has functioned as a centre of teaching, research, and public outreach in maritime history, and holds one of the best maritime reference libraries in the country.
The building itself has a very small belvedere window, a lookout post sited between the chimneys on the south side of the roof, from which a watch could be kept for ships on the river.
D. and S. Neave, Pevsner Architectural Guides: Hull (New Haven and London, 2010) AND A. Redman and D. Neave, Georgian Architecture and the Georgian Society for East Yorkshire (Hull, 2014)