A-Z of Hessle's History

Some time ago I began compiling an A - Z History of Hessle - its people and events. Here are some snippets. More will be added later.

Michael G Free


These gentlemen surely had one of the more sought after duties under the manor court system: their job being to test the quality of ale and that it was served in the correct quantities. We are given brief details in the seventeenth century manor court rolls.

Ale was the staple drink of the lower classes for centuries. With water there was always a danger of disease, whilst ale in which the water had been boiled as part of the brewing process was much safer. Often the same mash would be used to produce several strengths of ale, the weakest (called small ale) being given to children.


A group of three almshouses were situated under Bank’s school. They were established through Chamberlain’s Trust in 1719 and demolished to make way for the construction of Hessle Square in the 1920’s. The endowment provided a sum of £3 to be paid in 5 shillings instalments, to whoever ’shall dwell in’ the almshouses, on each quarter day. The almshouses provided for three of the eldest residents of Hessle and places were granted by a committee, though these were means tested. When the almshouses were demolished the residents were granted a weekly pension in lieu.

Banks' School Hessle and the Almshouses.


There are several bridges in the vicinity of Hessle, some with a long history:

Carr Bridge

Carr Bridge took Hull road over a drain at the corner of Common West Road (now Anlaby Park Road).

Cliff Bridge

This structure took Woodfield Lane over the railway.

Clough Bridge

Clough Bridge carried the ancient Humber bank route to Hull over the Haven.

Humber Bridge

Queen Elizabeth II opened the Humber Bridge in 1981 It took replaced the ferry that ran from Hull to New Holland. The Bridge is built adjacent to the site of the ferry that ran from Hessle Foreshore to Barton. The Humber Bridge was, for many years, the longest single span suspension bridge in the world.

Marr Bridge

This bridge originally marked the boundary with Anlaby

Sniggle Bridge

Sniggle Bridge took Hull Road over the drain that ran in a northerly alongside the old cricket field that stood where Kinston Avenue and Limetree Avenue now stand.

Station Bridge

This structure carried Redcliffe Road the railway line.

Waterside Bridge

Another bridge spanning the railway this time at the Haven.

Coal Supply

Coal is not a natural product of East Yorkshire and had to be brought in from the West Riding. Before the coming of the railway coal was brought by barge and keel along the Humber and into the Haven. Officers were appointed to check the quality of the coal. At the end of the eighteenth century and in the first forty years of the nineteenth the Spicer family held a virtual monopoly at the Haven but with the arrival of rail transport in 1840 other coal merchants came into the picture.

Church Bells – custom of ringing

Before the Second World War it was apparently the custom to ring the church bells at seven p m. According to custom this was to guide travellers safely home after a townsman had become lost one misty evening many years ago. He was guided home by the sound of the church bells. In gratitude, we are told , he donated a parcel of land to the Parish Clerk together with direction for the ringing of the bells.

Daisy Lea Laundry

The Daisy Lea Laundry, on Hessle Common, was run by Hugh Lyon in 1892. Later Charlotte Easton operated from the site. The laundry quickly acquired a reputation for service and efficiency with Charlotte employing around sixty women and several men.


Along with many other villages an enclosure survey of Hessle, Anlaby, Tranby and Wolfreton was carried out in the last decade of the eighteenth century. The survey was conducted by Peter Nevill of Riston, William Hall of Scorborough (who died and was replaced by) John Wood of North Cave, Edward Johnson of Hessle, Thomas Barrow of Welton and Robert Atkinson of Catwick. The award was made in 1796 and covered 3550 acres of land. By this Act the open fields of Hessle, Wolfreton, Tranby and Anlaby were transformed into hedged fields owned by various individuals.

Fire Carrying

The carrying of fire during the days of thatched cottages was a task to be undertaken with extreme care and caution. Villagers breaking the rules, which demanded that any hot coals or other forms of fire had to be carried in a closed vessel to avoid the danger of wooden buildings and thatch catching light, were brought before the manor court as at Easter 1665 when William Smith was fined 4d for his servant ‘fetching fier in a wispe’, and at Michaelmas 1665 when John Carver was fined 3d for ‘carryinge fire in an open vessell’. Eighteen months later Thomas Lilforth was fined 2d for his servant ‘careing of fier not in a clouse vesile’. The dangers of carrying lighted embers or hot coals around were only too evident to the townspeople.


Hessle had several mills at one time. The parish of Hessle was formerly much larger than now. There were certainly mills for grinding corn on Northgate and Hessle Road and there was also one at the north end of Pickering Road (now in Hull) where it joins Anlaby Road.

The mill on Northgate was an early modern tower mill built of brick and on a three acre site, (it was one of the first of this design to be built in the area) was advertised to let in 1826 as:

all that substantially brick wind corn mill built on the most approved principle, and turns, and clothes herself. Has four Sails and contains two pairs of Blue Stones, and one pair of Grey Stones, with screens, Flour Machines and every other requisite Article in good preservation.

There are also Extensive Granaries, and a good Dwelling House with Sheds, Cart Houses, Dove Cot, Pigeries, Yard, and Garden, and about three acres of good Rich Pasture Land.

The buildings are in good and tenantable repair, and were late in the occupation of Leonard Thompson, of Hessle.

The situation is most desirable, being near to the rich and populous village of Hessle, and within a short distance of the Town of Hull, and of Anlaby, Kirkella (sic), &c.

For Rent and further particulars apply to Mr Rushworth, Solicitor, 17 Parliament Street, Hull. (Hull Advertiser 29.9. 1826)

Providence Mill, on Hessle Common, was also owned by Leonard Thompson.

A third mill existed at the north end of Pickering Road which up to the last century was a part of Hessle.

There was also the whiting mill on the foreshore, which has a long and interesting history.


Hessle, like many other places, had its own stocks where the perpetrators of minor misdemeanours, such as drunkenness and ‘scolding’, were placed as punishment. A law of 1405 required every town and village to provide a set of stocks and keep them in good condition. The stocks in Hessle were in a corner of the churchyard. This form of punishment continued into the mid nineteenth century.

Wife Selling

The Hull Advertiser of May 15 1813 records an incident of wife selling when Robert Brown of Hessle brought his wife in a halter and sold her to George Hardy of Hessle for a guinea. The Hull Advertiser described it as a disgusting scene and suggested that prosecutions would be an appropriate means of dissuading the practice. Such scenes were not uncommon across the country - the usual cause of the sale being the wife’s adultery.

Zeppelins over Hessle

Keith Hare, in his trawls through the minute books of Hessle Urban District Council, has unearthed some interesting information about first world war Zeppelin raids; these relate to 1916. Most of these records refer to the dangers of attack and there is no evidence of any bombs falling on Hessle or causing damage.

In March 1916 the Gas Company manager was instructed to turn off the lights at the approach of Zeppelins. The Humber Conservancy was informed that the lightship and beacons off Hessle had caused a hazard to residents during a raid on March 5th and were asked to take precautionary measures so that these lights did not provide a target.

In May the council wrote to the Admiralty about the danger to the area from navigation lights in the Humber as enemy aircraft had appeared during the last few nights, though this is also referred to elsewhere in the minutes as at the 'beginning of April there were six consecutive night raids'. The Admiralty duly consented to the navigation lights being turned off during air raids. The Conservancy Board, however, disagreed saying that it was an absurd idea as the lights were too small and airmen had said that they were insignificant from above. The cost of extinguishing and re-lighting was also said to be too costly. Such a price on human safety!

Another Zeppelin is reported as having passed over on Monday 9th August 1915. This was the L9 which having landed at Aldborough took off again but due to navigational errors missed its intended target of Hull and bombed Goole instead!

The first Zeppelin raids on England came on 19th January 1915 when two of the aircraft crossed the Norfolk coast at 8:30pm. The silent raiders bombed Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn leaving nine dead. Raids on Hull took place between 1915 and 1918 causing significant damage and killing at least 42 people. The final Zeppelin raid was in March 1918 by when aircraft and searchlights had been sufficiently improved to be effective in chasing off the raiders.

The Humber would have been a natural navigation aid for Zeppelin crews, as it was for the Luftwaffe in the Second World War. The sudden change in direction of the Humber between Hull and Paull is instantly recognisable from the air but poor navigation often led to aircraft being off course and bombs being dropped away from their intended targets.