Anthony Bannister

Anthony Bannister 1817 - 1878

Anthony Bannister came to live in Hessle in 1861 and had a home at Kingston Lodge, on Eastgate. He was a Churchwarden at All Saints for sixteen years and promoted the Hessle Gas, Light and Coke Company. Bannister is better known for his political role, becoming Sheriff of Hull and Lord Mayor and for his role in the promotion of the Hull & Holderness Railway.

Anthony Bannister was the son of John Bannister, who worked for the Hull Dock Company and was a collector of customs for over twenty years. He was born in 1817 and after finishing his education he was apprenticed to John Beadle, who was a merchant ship owner in Hull. The young Bannister was a capable and hard working employee and after completing his apprenticeship he quickly rose through the ranks to become the manager of the Humber Union Steam Shipping Company. It was not long, however, before he set up his own business, dealing in coal and fish. He married Jane and they lived at Portland Place, off Prospect Street, in Hull and together they had at least nine children, four boys and five girls.

By 1845 Bannister had moved into local politics becoming a councillor for the North Myton Ward. Within a relatively short time he had become Sheriff of Hull (1849 and 1850) and then Lord Mayor in 1851. In 1855 he was elected to the position of Alderman and in 1855 he served a second term as Mayor. He was also a Justice of the Peace and a Major in the East Yorkshire Rifle Volunteers, forming one of its companies himself.

Bannister was a man of strong views and plain speaking, always ready to give his opinion and staunchly promoting that which he believed to be right. He was also full of vision and initiative. Although he was a staunch Conservative Bannister did not ignore the plight of working men. In 1852 he was presented with a snuff box by the United Fishermen’s Society after arbitrating in their favour during a dispute with fishing vessel owners, and he also helped to establish the Hull Men’s Working Club in 1864. In 1853 Bannister was prominent in the invitation to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to come to Hull; he was a leader of the move to build a new Town Hall and the building of a new theatre in Humber Street.

Anthony Bannister in his East Yorkshire Rifles uniform.

By 1851 Bannister was living on Boreas Hill in Paull and then he moved to High Paull House, from where he would sail to his office in Hull in his own yacht. The house overlooked the Humber and is now the site of a car park. Bannister was an avid sailor being the Vice Commodore of the Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club and he owned two yachts – the Sapphire and the Royal. As Mayor of Hull he was also the Admiral of the Humber during his terms of office. After selling his house in Paull Bannister moved to Hessle from where he commuted into Hull by rail. He lived at Kingston Lodge on Eastgate for the rest of his life. the 1861 census shows him living there with his wife, eight children and six servants. In 1871 he was there with his wife, two children and three servants.

Map of central Hessle showing Kingston Lodge where the Bannister family lived in the 1860s and 1870s.

His grandest idea was the railway line from Hull to Withernsea which he promoted with zeal despite setbacks. The line was opened on June 26th 1854 running initiallyfrom Victoria Station on Hedon Road with stations at Marfleet, Hedon, Ryehill & Burstwick, Keyingham, Ottringham, Winestead, Patrington and terminating at Withernsea. In 1864 through trains from Hull Paragon were establsihed. the line closed to passengers under the Beeching cuts on October 19th 1964 and the final goods train ran on 3rd June 1968. As part of his plan he had hoped that Withernsea would become a fine resort to match places such as Scarborough and Brighton. It was a dream that did not come to reality but thousands of day trippers made the journey to the seaside after the railway was opened. Part of Bannister’s rationale for building the railway was to serve the farmers of Holderness which it did by providing a quick route into Hull for cattle and food produce. In addition to the railway Bannister was also the Chairman of the Withernsea Pier, Promenade, Gas and General Improvement Company. The northern promenade was completed in 1873 and the pier four years later.

For Hessle Bannister was a member of the board of the Hessle Gas Light and Coke Company established in 1861 with works to the east of the Haven close to where Dunston’s shipyard later stood. The streets of Hessle were lit by gas in November 1861. He also served as Church Warden at All Saints.

Anthony Bannister died on 18th July 1878 aged 61, after catching a chill whilst participating in a regatta. He spent the last day of his life in Withernsea. After returning home to Kingston Lodge, by train from the coast to Hull and then on to Hessle, he died during the night. He is buried in Hessle Cemetery and there is a brass tablet in Hessle Church, erected to his memory by his friends and colleagues. There are streets named after him in Hessle, Hull and Withernsea.

Under the tower of All Saintys Church, Hessle, is a brass with full length effigy, bearing the inscription:

“To the Glory of God and in affectionate remembrance of Anthony Bannister, J.P., Alderman, twice Sheriff, and twice Mayor of Kingston-upon-Hull. Sixteen years Churchwarden of Hessle, who died 18th July, A.D., 1878, aged 61 years.

This brass was subscribed for by 120 of his friends.”


M Craven, The Hull To Withernsea Railway 1854 – 1964, 1997.

M G Free, Hessle A-Z, 2002.

J Markham, The Living Past, Highgate, 2001.

Census Returns: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871.