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Monday 30 June 2014

Fact 25. The first British black captain, ever!

Clive Sullivan was born on 9th April 1943 in Splott, Cardiff. He discovered rugby at school and even played for Cardiff schools before a bad leg injury, after which he was advised he may never walk properly, he stopped playing. After a short spell as a motor mechanic he joined the Army in 1961. He did his basic training at Catterick Camp. He wasselected to play for an inter Corps rugby side. He agreed because he thought if he didn't the Army would find out about his injury and be drummed out. He thought that he wouldn't trry very hard and would be dropped. However he couldn't help himself and after scoring a try after running the length of the pitch realised that there were no ill effects. He then decided that he would do his best to push for a rugby career whilst in the Army. After qualifying as a Radio Operator he then volunteered for the Parachute Regiment. After gaining his wings he saw active service in Nicosia in 1964 and was awarded the United Nations Medal after serving with the UN.

Clive Sullivan when in the Parachute Regiment.

Whilst still in the Army he had a trial with  Bradford Northern Rugby League side. However he didn't get taken up but luck was on his side as one of the touch judges recommended him for a trial with Hull FC. At that trial he scored three tries and was given a contract the next day. His playing at this time was limited not only as he was still serving in the Army but he also had three knee operations, a problem that was to dog his career, and in 1963 he had a near fatal car crash. However he was back playing after only three months. He left the Army in 1964 in time to play the last game of the season for Hull.

Clive Sullivan
Clive Sullivan for Hull FC.

In Hull 1967 he scored 28 tries in 28 games and played for Great Britain against France scoring two tries. In 1968 he scored seven tries in a match against Doncaster. In 1972 he captained Great Britain and became the first black person to captain any British National team in any sport. He also led the squad to victory in the RL World Cup that year and this was the last time GB won the title. He scored in every game and scored perhaps the greatest try ever in the World Cup when running the length of the pitch to bring the game  level to 10-10 against Australia.

Clive Sullivan with the World Cup Trophy in 1972.

Clive Sullivan played 352 times for Hull FC and scored 250 tries making it more of a shock when he signed for Hull Kingston Rovers in 1974. He was in the team that won the Challenge Cup in 1980 when Hull KR beat Hull FC at Wembley 10-5.

Photo: Sullivan named in Greatest 13
Clive Sullivan holds the Challenge Cup aloft following victory 10-5 over Hull FC.

He played 213 times for Hull KR in six seasons and  scored 118 tries. He remains the only player that has ever scored 100 tries for Hull FC and Hull KR. He also won a Championship medal in 1979.

He played 17 times for Great Britain and scored 13 tries and also played 15 times for Wales and scored 7 tries.

He was awarded the MBE for services to Rugby League.

He moved back to Hull FC in 1981 and continued to play and coach. He won a second Challange Cup medal, this time with Hull when he was called up for the Final replay after Hull had drawn 14-14 with Widness. the match was in Leeds and Hull FC triumphed 18-9 in the replay. He played his last game in 1985 and within six months he died of liver cancer on 8th October 1985 at the age of 42. The whole city was shocked by his death. His funeral was held at Holy Trinity Church but there were still thousands that could not get in to pay there respects. 

From the start his biggest asset was his out and out speed. He was said to be like a gazelle from 60 metres out and like a wild bull from 20! He had very strong upper body strength and this meant that unusually for a winger at the time he was very solid in defence too.

The roads that most people visiting Hull will travel on to get there, from the Humber Bridge to the centre of town was called Clive Sullivan Way in honour of Clive Sullivan who was a hero to both sides of the River Hull so uniting the City in sport.

The trophy awarded to the winner of the Derby game between Hull FC and Hull KR is fittingly named the Clive Sullivan Memorial Trophy. He was an adopted son who broke the mould in race in sport and was a true gentleman that brought everybody who met him to love him.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Fact 24. The first enclosed dock entered from the Humber was opened in 1809.

The Dock, that became Queen's Dock, was a huge success and had become over crowded since it opened in 1778. The size of the ships had continued to grow and this made access via the River Hull even more difficult to gain entry to Queen's Dock. There were several delays, partly because the Hull Dock Company wanted to protect their monopoly as long as possible. How ever by 1802 the pressure resulted in an Act of Parliament being passed with the required permissions etc.

The costs were to be born 50% by the Hull Dock Company and 25% each by Hull Trinity House and Hull Corporation. The work started in 1803 and the spoil excavated from the site was used to reclaim land south of Humber Street. The work was completed in 1809 and was opened for shipping 30th June 1809.

On the right of the postcard can be seen Sammy's Point (where the Deep is now built) that is the entrance to the Old Harbour or River Hull. In the middle is Corporation Pier where the ferries used to operate from. To the left of this can be seen the two jetties that enclosed the tidal basin that led to Humber Dock Lock and the Humber Dock it's self beyond. The photo was obviously taken after 1829 as Junction Dock has been constructed to the north of Humber Dock.

The dock was 279 x 104 metres and the lock was 48 x 13 metres and the water depth in the dock was between 6.4 and 7.4 metres. Out side the lock there was a basin that remained tidal enclosed by a couple of piers. This area was utilised for working the numerous barges and keels that moved cargo around the docks or further afield.

This bridge gives access across the lock area and is still in place.

Barges being worked by crane in the tidal basin of Humber Dock.

The photograph looks as though it was taken from roughly where the Light Vessel is now moored and shows the two Associated Humber Line vessels 'Bury' and Melrose Abbey' along with the Humber Pilot Cutter No.2 which was I think  'William Fenton'. The lock would be just astern of the Pilot Cutter.
Innes Collection.

At some stage two mooring dolphins were placed in the centre of the dock. These were used to increase quay space as vessels could tie up stern to these and use the anchor at the bow and work cargo overside to barges.

The dock finally closed in 1968 and many of the buildings around were also lost. However in 1983 it was re-opened as a marina which still provides a fascinating stroll on a summers evening today.

Almost the same view as the first picture showing Humber Dock as a marina

Sunday 15 June 2014

Fact 23. Last UK coal fired, steam driven, paddle wheel ferry was on the Humber.

There has been an organised ferry across the Humber from Lincolnshire to near to Hull since 1315 when a grant was given by the King to run such a ferry. It ran to connect the road from London to the road on the north bank to Beverley and York. The tolls charged were passed to the King. The rights to run a ferry were disputed by Barrow and Barton until settled in 1371. There were many private boatmen offering a trip across the estuary. The organised one hadn't really become very efficient by the 17th Century and the lease changed hands often. The toll hadn't increased at all until 1656! In 1796 Hull Corporation bought the lease for £3000. and the Barton Ferry was called the South Ferry.

Another ferry started up in competition from Barrow in 1826. Hull Corporation had banned the market boats that ran from every creek in the estuary to Hull from carrying passengers so they tried to stop this new ferry too. But as they didn't comply with the grant of 1315 by providing ferries to other places in Lincolnshire they had to let it pass. It didn't make money any way and closed in 1851.

A ferry from New Holland was started in 1825 and the first steam ship brought a good regular service of  three sailings a day arrived in 1832 with the 'Magna Charta', and joined by 'Falcon' in 1839. The Royal Mail was moved from using the Barton Ferry to the New Holland and the with the railway arriving the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway obtained the lease for the New Holland ferry in 1846. The subsequent railway companies kept the lease until British Rail took it on in 1965.
Paddle tugs were required as the water of the crossing was frequently shallow as the mud and sand shifts constantly and the ferries have even been delayed due to have been aground!

Killingholme from 1912. Scrapped at Paull in 1945.

Sister to Killingholme was the Brocklesby of 1912. She was moved to Scotland and scrapped in Holland in 1936.

Frodingham (c. G.Robinson)
Built as a Clyde Ferry and transferred to the Humber and named Frodingham in 1926.

Tattershall Castle (c. G.Robinson)
Built in 1934 the Tattershall Castle was sold in 1975 and is still a floating restaurant on the Thames Embankment.

Wingfield Castle, present day at Hartlepool (c. G.Robinson)
Also built in 1934 and sold in 1975 the Wingfield Castle also became a restaurant but is now in the Hartlepool museum.

Lincoln Castle (c. G.Robinson)
Lincoln Castle was built in 1940 for the route and remained there until 1978 when she was withdrawn due to boiler trouble. She was sold and became a restaurant ashore under the new Humber Bridge and then moved to Grimsby before being broken up. Lincoln Castle was the last coal fired steam paddle tug.

Farringdon was the last ferry on the Humber and was from the Isle of Wight route. It stopped service 1981 when the bridge was opened.

I have often felt that Hull does not make the most of it's water front and turns it's back largely on ships, especially now the fishing fleet has disappeared. I think that it would be wonderful to offer trips on the Humber from a large ferry/passenger vessel. There could be short trips from Hull to the bridge and to Grimsby where there is always sufficient water, and even shorter trips up and down the water front of Hull from Paull Fort to the Humber Bridge. The use of the Pier in Hull would also revitalise the area and be a big draw for the Fruit market area. There are enough commercial operators in the area to make this possible.

Sunday 8 June 2014

Fact 22. Few places called Hull.

If you allow that the name of our city is Hull, rather than Kingston upon Hull, it seems there are four other places with the name and all in North America.

The next largest Hull after the UK is in Quebec with a population of 66244 in 2001. It was formed in 1800 at the portage point round the Chaudiere Falls. It is opposite Ottawa City between the Gatineau and Ottawa Rivers. A Philemon Wright brought his family of five and five other families and some workers to set up and agriculture place in 1800. With the abundance of timber they went into the lumber business instead. The rivers were used to float the logs down in rafts to Montreal.

View of Main Street about 1920.

In 1917 the state of Ottawa declared prohibition so to get a drink the population flooded over the river into Quebec and Hull. The city soon got a reputation and gambling and all the other things that come along with drink etc arrived. POW's from WWII were housed in the area. By 1985 Hull had the worst crime rate in Quebec. In 1990 a policy of zero tolerance was brought in and by 2000 the crime rate had dropped by 75%. The Canadian Museum of Civilisation was built in Hull in 1989 to start the ball rolling.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization
The Canadian Museum of Civilisation.

In 2002 five cities were amalgamated into one district and they were named after the one with the largest population that happened to be Gatineau. Hull is still a district with in the new administrative district and has the distinction of being the oldest non-native settlement in Quebec. 80% of the inhabitants speak French as their first language.

The next largest Hull is in Massachusetts. It had a population of 10,293 in 2010 and is built on a string of sand bar islands on the south side of Boston Harbour. It is about 20 miles by road and 5 miles across the bay.

The Plymouth Colony of Founding Fathers established a trading port here in 1621 and a town became established in 1622. It officially became a town in 1644 and was named after dear old Hull in Blighty. Early industry was fishing and trade and salvage of the numerous ship wrecks on islands. The native name for the sand spits was Nantasket.

Fort Revere and Allerton as seen from the forts water tower observation post.

Following the American Revolution this was one of the first places were refuges for ship wrecked mariners was set up. A lifeboat station was built in 1889 and they saved over 1000 people.

In the 1800's the town became a seaside retreat for Bostonians and the crowds brought pick pockets etc. To counter this Paragon Park was constructed where they could have fun in peace and there were amusements and fairground rides etc. It lasted into 1960's when it was sold off for building. The town is still aretreet for beach lovers and those wanting to live by the shore. There is a commuting ferry to Boston. President Calvin Coolidge had a summer home here as did ex Bosotn Mayor J.F. Fitzgerald who was the father of Rose Kennedy and father in law to Joseph Kennedy.

The next biggest spot in Hull in Illinois, Pike County to be exact. It had a massive population of 474 in 2000. From Google maps it seems to be a very rural place. 99% were white. About the best picture I can find that proves its existence in this one below.

There is another Hull but in Georgia, Madison County. In 2000 there were 160 but in 2010 a massive 198. There were only 70 households then too. It seems to be a hunting, shooting fishing kind of a place with forests and lakes all around. It is not too far from Athens which is the county seat.

I think it would be really good to invite all of these other Hull's to visit for the year of culture and make more ties around the world.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Fact 21. David Whitfield was first UK million seller artist in USA.

David Whitfield was born in Hull 2-Feb-1925 the third of eight children. He started singing at St Peter's Church Choir. After leaving school he had several jobs but on the outbreak of WWII he volunteered as a cycle messenger around the city at the height of the Blitz. At 17 he joined the Royal Navy as a Seaman Gunner. He was at the D Day landings and afterwards went out to the Fare East. After the war was over he remained in the Fare East and it was there that he entertained the armed forces in various concerts. He returned to Hull in 1949 and quickly entered a talent contest in Southampton. He was disqualified as the rules stated that he had to finish his act but the applause was so loud before the end that the judges never heard the end of it!

He then entered 'Opportunity Knocks' On Radio Luxemborg and won easily. We then toured with the show for eight months and sang on the Radio. After the tour he returned to Hull and had to start as a coal man and then as a concrete labourer. He carried on singing in clubs etc and married his girl friend Shelia in 1951. Hugie Green from the 'Opportunity Knocks' show got him a slot in a show at the Washington Hotel in London. He stormed it and his career was off.

A young David Whitfield (right) in his navy uniform, meeting a young Hughie Green (left) in a Radio Luxembourg studio
Hughie Green and David Whitfield in 1950.

In 1953 David Whitfield had a series of hits and the numbers sold were remarkable as there was very little money around to purchase records then compared with the rock and roll era later. That year he sand 'I believe' at the International Song Contest in Belgium. This was the fore runner of the Eurovision Song Contest, and he won. 

A young David Whitfield at the height of his fame.

All the time he was appearing in shows and revues to great reviews. In 1954 he released his greatest remembered hit 'Cara Mia'. He sold a million records and won a gold disc. He appeared on the Royal Variety Performance too. The record did very well in the USA and Canada and he was invited on the Ed Sullivan Show. The reaction was fantastic and he was invited back a further six times. No UK artist has ever been invited more. He was the most successful UK artist in the USA before Rock and Roll. He was the first UK vovalist to get a gold disc in the UK and the third ever. (You had to sell a million in those days). He was the first UK singer to sell a million copies of a record in the USA. 'Cara Mia' was ten weeks at No.1 and so was one of only six artists to have a record in the charts over ten weeks.

David Whitfield continued to live in Hull.

He had a Hollywood screen test and passed but turned down the work as he would have to live in America and was worried that he would never get work in the UK again, and he loved his country and city too. He did appear in musicals though and was very successful. He continued to tour all over the world and had hit records into the 1960. On his 13th tour of Australia, and on the day before he was due to return home from Sydney he died of a brain haemorrhage 16-Jan-1980. His ashes were returned to Hull and were scattered off Spurn Point from HMS Sirius.

On 31-Aug-2012 a staue of David Whitfield was unveiled situated outside the New Theatre. It was made by Graham Ibbeson who also designed the Eric Morecombe statue and cost £50,000 that was raised by the David Whitfield Appreciation Society.

A man with a golden voice that gave up a career in American films to live in Hull. What a hero, what a singer.