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Point 1: Queen's Gardens
From the BBC building walk into the Queens Gardens.
Few places in the country can claim such a rich and impressive maritime history as Hull.
Until 1930, where you are standing was in fact water. This site was once the largest dock in the UK. It measured 518 metres long and 75 metres wide.
Built by the Hull Dock Company in 1775, the dock was originally designed by the Liverpool engineer, Henry Berry, but the plan was later modified by John Grundy. It cost under £65,000 to construct and was officially opened on Tuesday 22nd September 1778.
It was known as 'the dock' as it was the only one in Hull until the opening of Humber Dock in 1809 and then it was referred to as 'the old dock'. It was later given the name, Queen's Dock, after Queen Victoria's visit to Hull in 1854.
An aerial view of the dock from the east
The dock was used to export manufactured goods from Yorkshire, the Midlands and Lancashire and import raw materials from Europe.
After the construction of the first dock came suburban growth around the area. New streets were built and merchants moved from the High Street vicinity to settle around this part of the town.
As well as importing and exporting cargo, the dock was also used for whaling.
After the discovery of Greenland by Sir Hugh Willoughby, the first whaling ships left Hull in 1598. The mammals were caught by the traditional method of hand harpooning, in which a spear-like weapon with a barbed head is used.
Whaling reached its peak at the beginning of the 19th century when the dock had more than 60 whaling vessels, this was the largest fleet in Britain. In 1820, these vessels had caught 688 whales, producing 8,000 tonnes of whalebone*.
A whaling fleet, illustrated in 1769.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the whaling industry declined. The last vessel, The Diana, left Hull in 1869 and never returned. This marked the end of the trade.
For the whalers, it was a dangerous occupation. Between 1818 and 1869, no fewer than 800 ships from Hull were lost at sea. For those left behind on land, the departure of a vessel must have been felt with both pride and trepidation.
By the 20th century, more docks had opened in the city and deep sea trading and shipping had moved over to the newer docks. The dock finally closed in 1930 and was filled in after 150 years of activity.
Look carefully and you can still make out the shape of the dock in the walls and buildings around you.
At the very end of the Gardens, on the Hull College forecourt, you can see the statue of William Wilberforce, the former Hull MP and anti-slavery campaigner.
Wilberforce Monument and Dock Offices
This monument was built in 1834 and is 102 feet high (31 metres). It was originally placed on the site between Beverley Gate and the Ferens Art Gallery. The grounds that King Charles I stood when he was denied access into the town. The statue was moved to its present location in 1935 because it was seen as a traffic hazard.
This leads us onto our next point of interest, Wilberforce House.* Source: Hull City Council.
last updated: 01/05/2008 at 16:04
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