Hessle Local History Society - a History

Hessle Local History Society was set up in 1992 under the Chairmanship of Chris Harvey with Jane Bass as Secretary, Pat Howlett as Treasurer and Jennifer Johnson as the Newsletter Editor. The subscription was £3 for individual members and £5 for a couple, later rising to £3.50 and £6. This rate was held until 2011 when it was raised to £5 per member and it is now £8 per person (2020).

The first meeting of the Society was held in Hessle Library on September 17th 1992 and members were entertained to a slide show presented by Pat Howlett and Harold Owen. Meetings were held from September to June with a summer break. Now the meetings take place from March to November with a winter break.

In November 1993 Chris Harvey died and he was succeeded as Chairman in March 1994 by Pat Howlett. Harry Bell took over as Treasurer with Keith Hare taking on the role of Newsletter Editor, claiming that he had been "dragooned" into the role "by a fierce and threatening character who shall remain nameless". Hilary Tyson took on the role of Secretary in 1995.

In May 1994 the Society held its first Open Day with a wide range of aspects of Hessle's history on display. This has been followed by several successful exhibitions over the ensuing years - all of which have featured selections of photographs from Pat Howlett's collection.

Throughout its twenty year existence the Society has produced a successful Newsletter highlighting Hessle's history and items of local interest. The Newsletter has reached far parts of the globe including Australia and New Zealand. Much of the credit for the success of the Newsletter lies at the door of Keith Hare who edited it for fifteen years in a scholarly manner. Nowadays the Newsletter is edited and prepared by a team of three ladies, Eve Johansson, Anne Reavely and Marie Nicoll, who are maintaining the interest and erudite nature of the publication. There have now been 69 issues of the Newsletter.

Pat Howlett continued as Chairman until 2000 when Keith Hare took over and Pat became Vice Chairman until 2002 when the two reversed their roles. Pat then served as Chairman until 2008 when he stood down and Anne Morgan was elected to the office. In 2004 Bob Waugh took over as Treasurer from Harry Bell who resigned owing to ill health. Keith has also served as Secretary of the Society.

For many years the Society held a January Dinner, organised by Harry Bell, usually held at Darley's. In 2005 this became a luncheon and in 2008 the event was discontinued.

In addition to the Newsletter the Society has also published an Index to the Newsletter and several booklets on the town's history. Most of these are out of print but are available for study in local libraries.

Among them are:

Hessle Manor Courts

Hessle Church and Parish

Old Hessle Schools

Hessle's Georgian Houses

The Barton Ferry

Hessle At The Time of Domesday

Hessle in Saxon Times

John Ellerthorpe, Hero of the Humber

Hessle in 1834

Hessle in the Nineteenth Century

Retailing In Hessle.

From the first Newsletter 1992

The following article was part of the very first Newsletter in 1992 giving the aims of the Society, and is still relevant today.

We are concerned that Hessle’s History should not be thrown out but saved and looked after. We do not want to take anyone’s treasure from them but we would be interested in knowing what people might have and perhaps they would be willing to lend material to us for exhibitions or allow it to be copied. If a time comes when material relating to Hessle is no longer required by individuals PLEASE don’t throw it away but consider donating it to us. All sorts of things are of interest, photographs of course, advertisements, price lists, army records, church magazines – go on – go and have a look in the attic or in that box under the bed!

A lot of Hessle’s History has been preserved and is available for research at places like the East Riding County Library in Beverley which has the Stan Owen (remember Stan?) Collection in its keeping. Also in Beverley is the Humberside County Record Office where the Parish Registers for Hessle are kept. (Note – this information is now in the Treasure House in Beverley). The enclosure plan and a fascinating book giving all the details of the enclosure awards for Hessle is there too together with all sorts of documents pertaining to our history. The Act of Parliament to enclose Hessle turning it from the open field system of farming to the enclosed system we recognise today freeing land for development took place in 1792. This and the coming of the Railway (Hull–Selby line) in 1840 were amongst the most significant factors which turned Hessle from a small agricultural village with stone quarries and chalk pits into the urban town we know today. The Local Studies library in Hull (now in the History Centre) also keeps information about Hessle including a good run of directories and maps.

Re-printed in the Newsletter July 2011