A Brief History of Hull

The history of the city is closely linked to its intimate relationship with the sea, with merchants through the ages seeking out opportunities for trade wherever they were across the globe. There is evidence of this trade and commerce on the tributary of the River Hull right back to Roman times, but it wasn't until the medieval period that the hamlet of Wyke began to assume any importance with the increasing export of wool to the low countries, where they were made into fine garments.

King Edward I

This trade was initially controlled by the monks of nearby Meaux abbey so that by the end of the 13th century, when King Edward I bought the town, Hull was the second largest wool exporting port in the country after London. While wool was the most important export from the medieval port of Hull, it wasn't the only one, with lead, coal and cloth all exported to mainland Europe, the Baltic and Scandinavian countries. In return, Hull received imports of staples such as timber and flax from the northern European countries but also luxuries such as wine from the Bordeaux region of France.

Beverley Gate 1640

During the middle period of its history, the town was enclosed by thick walls and a moat. The course of the walls can still be seen today, marked out by red bricks in the paving. Because of its strategic importance and powerful fortifications, it played a decisive role in the English Civil War, in fact, it was at Hull that King Charles I received the first clear challenge to his power when the town's authorities refused him entry.

Map of Hull

During the 18th and 19th centuries the town expanded rapidly as new industrial centres such as Leeds, Halifax and Sheffield began to trade directly with Hull. This growth was helped by the expansion of inland waterways and later by the coming of railways. As a result of increased trade, Hull became regarded as the country's third port behind London and Liverpool. Powerful merchants built fine houses along High Street, many of which survive to this day.

The Deep

Visitors today will find a city with many traces of this successful trading heritage and the Old Town in particular, with its virtually unchanged layout of 700 years ago, remains a wonderful attraction. Together with recent iconic developments such as The Deep, St Stephens Shopping Centre or the KC Stadium, they provide an ample offering for visitors. Entrance to many of the city's museums and galleries is free and there is a varied choice of theatres, concerts, sports and other entertainment. All this comes wrapped up with the people of Hull; warm, candid and tremendously welcoming to visitors.