History of Hull

The original settlement of Wyke, or Wyke-Upon-Hull, was probably established by the Cistercian monastery of Meaux. A few miles upstream of the modern city, the port was used by the abbey for distribution of its wool. The location became strategically important to the HistoryEnglish in conflict with the Scottish in the late 13th century. Edward I selected the site for its ideal proximity to his kingdom's adversary. Kingston-Upon-Hull was an advantageous port from which to launch his campaigns, sufficiently deep within the boundaries of England to afford security. The associated royal charter, dated April 1, 1299 remains preserved in Hull's Guildhall Archives.

Humber Bridge from the south sideThe charter of 1440, constituted Kingston upon Hull a corporate town and granted that instead of a Mayor and Baliffs there should be a Mayor, Sheriff and twelve Aldermen who should be Justices of the Peace within the town and county.

Hull was a major port during the Later Middle Ages and its merchants traded widely to ports in Northern Germany, the Baltics and the Low Countries. Wool, cloth and hides were exported, and timber, wine, furs and dyestuffs imported. Leading merchant, Sir William de la Pole, helped establish a family prominent in government. Bishop John Alcock, founder of Jesus College and patron of the grammar school in Hull, hailed from another Hull mercantile family. Hull grew in prosperity and importance during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. This is reflected in the construction of a number of fine, distinctively decorated brick buildings of which Wilberforce House (now a museum dedicated to the life of William Wilberforce) is a rare survival.

In 1642 Hull's governor Sir John Hotham declared for the Parliamentarian cause and later refused Charles I entry into the City and access to its large arsenal. He was declared a traitor and despite a parliamentarian pardon was later executed. (He was actually executed by the parliamentarians, not the royalists, when he tried to change sides.) This series of events was to precipitate the English Civil War since Charles I felt obliged to respond to the 'insult' by besieging the City, an event that played a critical role in triggering open conflict between the Parliamentarian and Royalist causes.

Hull developed as a British trade port with mainland Europe, Whaling until the mid 19th Century and deep sea fishing until the Anglo-Icelandic Cod War 1975-1976, which resolution led to a major decline in Hull's economic fortune. It remains a major port dealing mostly with bulk commodities and commercial road traffic by RORO ferry to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge on mainland Europe. The city remains a UK centre of food processing.

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Because of its docks and proximity to continental Europe the city sustained particularly significant damage in bombing raids during the Second World War and much of the city centre was devastated. Most of the centre was rebuilt in the years following the war, but it is only recently that the last of the "temporary" car parks that occupied the spaces of destroyed buildings have been redeveloped.

Hull's administrative status has changed several times. It was a county borough within the East Riding of Yorkshire from 1889 and in 1974 it became a non-metropolitan district of Humberside. When that county was abolished in 1996 it was made a unitary authority.

In 2003 Hull came top of a so-called 'Crap Towns' survey in the book edited by Sam Jordison and Dan Kieran. Two years later it was also deemed the 'worst town in the UK' in a Channel 4 television programme. It is now a thriving city with many new developments in the process of completion. link Hull