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Wednesday 28 January 2015

Fact 57. Winston Churchill visited hull in November 1941.

As I am sure you will have heard this week is the 50th Anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill and his burial. Much is being made of it in the media and I thought I would put my ten penny worth in to. I remember distinctly sitting and watching the funeral procession and being in floods of tears. I did not live through WWII but my parents had and it was still 'fresh' in the nations collective thoughts. The end of all food rationing had only come about the year before I was born, 1954.

Winston had a very mixed bag of success prior to the war against the Nazi's and their friends that he had been predicting from the political wilderness, but he did seem to believe in his own destiny and as the saying goes 'Cometh the hour, cometh the man'. Somehow Winston, at the age of 65, seemed to relish the challenge of the post he took up. One can only dream of the pressure he must have felt with the weight of the nation, the Commonwealth and the free world during those dark early years of the war. Somehow he managed to present to the public a determined and unassailable faith that it would all be alright in the end. His speeches were an inspiration to the Nation during the war and I must confess to welling up when I hear them still. Sir Winston Churchill was a flawed man in many ways but but who knows where we and the rest of the world would be today if he hadn't stepped into the breech.

Taken at 10 Downing Street in 1940 by Cecil Beeton.

The first actual air raid on Hull was 19th/20th June 1940. The main bombings on the city and surroundings occurred in March July and August 1941 when much damage was sustained and many hundreds killed. I intend to write a much more detailed blog about the Hull Blitz at a later date so will not go into detail here. Suffice to say that the city was never referred to by name on the radio, only as  'A North East Coast Town'.

Winston Churchill made several moral boosting trips to the north of the country and visited Hull in November 1941 several months after the serious bombings. He surveyed the damaged areas including the docks and maybe even Hull FC's ground that had been hit. He visited residential areas where he boosted moral with his cheery smile, words of comfort and victory V signs. When touring the docks it is said that a cheeky stevedore  asked for his cigar and Winston chucked his butt to him.

Winston Churchill on walk about in Hull City Centre in November 1941.

Later there was a meeting held at the Guildhall where all walks of life were represented. There were even twelve year old pupils from Trinity House there,

Sir Winston Churchill in Kingston upon Hull's Guildhall making a rallying speech to the people of Hull in November 1941.

This painting of the war time arrival of  Sir Winston now hangs in the Banqueting Hall of the Guildhall.

King Edward St, Prospect Street.

Hull had the most serious bomb damage of any town or city in the country, outside of London, for the size of it's population and housing stock. We must give thanks for the fortitude of all the civilians that stood fast through out the war alongside those in the forces and other units.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Fact 56. The largest unspoiled railway station in the UK.

Paragon Station, Hull as it is today. The station opened as Hull Paragon Street and then became Hull Paragon and later just Hull. Most recently it has been known as Paragon Interchange, but on timetables etc it is just known as Hull whilst most locals will call it Paragon Station.

To the right is the new St Stephens Square shopping development. Next to this can be seen the buses using the interchange to thew north of the station complex. The five arched roofs cover the tracks and platforms and the two smaller ones cover the concourse. Next to them can be seen the stone clad Royal Station Hotel and the canopy of the new entrance to the station. Along the top track glass arch can be seen the original station buildings that faced the Anlaby Road. The 1871 emigrant station is the single story brick building to the top of the car park with the separate line to it.

The first station in Hull was built by the Hull and Selby Railway and opened near to Humber and Railway Docks in 1840. (see Fact 47) By 1845 the Hull and Selby had working arrangements with York and North Midland and Manchester and Leeds Railways and in 1846 the Hull and Selby had built a branch line to Bridlington that connected up with the York and North Midland network from a junction at Dairycoates a little to the east of the present Paragon Station. As the town of Hull was developing it made more sense for both companies to create a new station nearer to the town centre. By now the Manchester and Leeds had fallen by the way side. An Act of Parliament was sort in 1847 to allow the building of a new station and the branch lines to connect it. The contracts for it's construction were signed even before the Act had been properly passed. This may indicate the manner of business employed by the Y&NMR at the time.

The York and North Midland Railway had George Hudson as it's Chairman. Hudson was known as the 'Railway King' as he pushed the building of lines and the amalgamation of companies that would pioneer a route from London through to Edinburgh. However he was guilty of sharp financial practices, mainly using capital to pay dividends to shareholders and by 1849 he was made bankrupt and had to flee the country. The main architect for the Y&NMR was George Andrews from his practice in York and were his last major work for them as the work dried up following the disgrace of George Hudson. The Act passed and construction began to an Italian Renaissance style. An hotel was also included in the scheme.

The original station was aligned east/west and fronting on to Anlaby Road. The photograph above shows the original station entrance to the right with the porched front. The eleven bayed one story building fronted onto the platforms and at the end was a two story building that at this end was the Station Master's house. Another eleven bay wing led off to the right and another two story building housed the parcels department. After that was the station hotel. Five tracks and two platforms were train side of the buildings.

The original entrance to Hull Paragon Street Station. The large three story building to the right is the Station Hotel. The two story square building is the parcels depot with a wooden covered frontage and the east most eleven bay single story wing leading off to the left. The station was named after Paragon Street that faced the hotel and led into the town centre. The station opened for business on 8th May 1848. The picture is from the early 1900's

The hotel was built in the same style as the station and consisted of nine bays of three stories with a large light well in the middle. The hotel was known as 'Hudson's Folly' as it was felt to be out of scale for the size of the town etc.

The front facade of the Station Hotel with the porch facing east to Paragon Street. It can be seen that the style of the building was the same as the station it's self and the railings and gates were also the same design. The official opening of the hotel was 6th November 1851. The postcard was from the early 1900's.

On 13th October 1853 the Royal Train arrived in Hull for the visit of Queen Elizabeth. The Royal Party consisted of the Queen and Price Albert and five of their children. They stayed in the Station Hotel where a throne room was constructed on the first floor and the party put up on the second. There was a dinner held on 14th October at the hotel.

By the 1870's several new lines had been built using Paragon Station and the national system had been better connected meaning that the general level of use increased greatly. A third platform was added and the platforms lengthened and the cross platform at the foot of the tracks was widened to accommodate more pedestrians. The booking office was moved to the parcel office at the east end so that it led directly onto the cross platform and the parcel depot took over the old booking hall. At this time there was mass emigration from the east of Europe and about 2.2 million of them passed through Hull Station. Partly to ease their flow onto the trains taking them to liners on the west coast and partly to isolate them from the general public a separate station was built to the south west. (see Fact 38). The waiting rooms and line are still there.

By 1902 a major extension was required and land was allocated to the north. At this time the station was run by the North Eastern Railway. Their architect William Bell designed a five arch steel and glass platform roof with a further two arches to cover the concourse across the ends of the tracks. Offices were moved to the east end, next to the hotel, and this included the booking hall. The station approach and entrance was covered with a steel and glass port-cochere. The former offices became waiting rooms etc. The hotel was also extended at this time. There were now 9 platforms to the south, under four of the arches. Under the other were facilities for special cargoes such as horses and cars etc. This was also known as the Fish Platform and was separated off from the others. The newly rebuilt station reopened on 12th December 1904.

On 5th March 1917 the glass roof of the station was blown out during a Zeppelin raid that killed twelve people.

The 1904 station building seen in around 1950's. The Hotel can be seen at the far end and the steel and glass canopy facing Paragon Square can be seen. Just behind is the booking hall and offices and the two arches that cover the concourse can be seen

The original 1904 booking office is still there along with the tiling and 'NER' on the floor.

On Valentine's Day 1927 there was a fatal accident on the approaches to the station when at around 0900 the train from Withernsea collided head on with the train just having left for Scarborough. Twelve were killed and twenty four seriously injured. It was caused by a signaling error when two signalers managed to over ride the safety devices by operating signals too soon.

During an air raid on 7th May 1941 the station was seriously damaged by incendiary bombs and a parachute mine.

In 1962 the old elegant steel and glass canopy was replaced with this office block, Paragon House. For a few years it housed the regional head quarters of British Rail but then was empty and the building became more run down. 

click for a full screen image
This was the concourse in 1979

This is the concourse now, but looking in the opposite direction.

In 1990 the hotel was gutted by fire. It took two years to rebuild and refurbish before it reopened in 1992.
By 2000 there were plans to revive the area around the station with a new shopping area, offices, theatre hotels etc. Part of these plans included a new transport hub to the north of the station. The old fish platform for special freight was used to added an integrated bus interchange with 38 bus gates and 4 coach stops. Large changes took place to the interior and exterior. The Paragon House office block of the 60's was removed and replaced with a glass canopy and the interior spruced up.

In 2010 a bronze statue of Philip Larkin by Martin Jennings was unveiled on the concourse to mark the 25th anniversary of his death. In 2011 five of his poems were inserted into the floor and in 2012 a memorial bench was added as Larkin has become one of Hull's best known adopted sons.

Paragon Station is often the first impression that people have of Hull. There is now doubt that it now much more positive than in the past. Not only have visitors benefited but locals now have a truly great interchange where over 2.2 million rail passengers a year can make use of the 17000 bus departures a day. The station at Hull is probably the largest unchanged station left in the UK as the lines have not been marred by the introduction of overhead electric cables. This means that it has been used several times in films and television pieces. The line is due to be electrified sometime after 2017, whilst maybe limiting it's use as a film location it will help to make our city more accessible to the rest of the UK and beyond, and hopefully bring many people to see what a great place Hull is.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Fact 55. Smith and Nephew medical equipment company is from Hull.

Thomas James Smith was born in 1827 in Whitfield Northumberland, and trained as an pharmacist at a dispensing chemists in Grantham. In 1855 he went on to University College London until 1856 and is said to have studied under Lord Lister who was a pioneer of the use of antiseptics. Following his time in London he bought a chemists shop at 71 Whitefriargate in the old town of Hull. Business most have progressed satisfactorily as he borrowed £500 from his father to convert two nearby houses into a warehouse in 1860. In 1858 he seems to have got into the wholesale trade of cod liver oil, mainly buying from Newfoundland and selling on to hospitals etc. At the end of 1861 he needed still more space so the business moved to North Churchside close to Holy Trinity Church.

smith- history
Thomas James Smith.

In 1880 Thomas bought the buildings on North Churchside with another loan of £500 from his father. Whilst involved in the making bandages and dressings it seems his main business was the wholesale supply of cod liver oil. He made a very successful trip to Norway in a gunboat and came back having bought 750 gallons of cod liver oil. It was much cheaper than the product from Canada and had a much cleaner taste and smell as the solid fat had been processed out of it. By 1875 Thomas was selling over £3000 of cod liver oil to such establishments as Great Ormond Street and Guy's Hospitals. He was refining and blending his own oil to exacting standards and won a gold medal at the International Fisheries Exhibition in 1883. He had given his oil the brand name Paragon and sales had spread as far as far as Egypt.

Blue plaque on North Churchside.

In 1896 Thomas was 70 years old and in declining health and as he had never married he decided to bring his 22 year old cousin Horatio Nelson Smith into the business and the business became T.J. Smith and Nephew. Horatio was known for his direct and inquisitive manner. Thomas had left his share of the business to his sister Amelia Ann but she wanted no active part so transferred her share to Horatio for an annuity of £260. Only three months later he was dead. Horatio had been apprenticed for six years making drapery and so it seemed he naturally moved to the bandage side of the business. He bought a machine to cut and roll bandages and had traveled to Canada in 1906 and won a contract to supply Canadian hospitals. By 1907 the business required larger buildings once again and they moved to Neptune Street close to Albert Dock to the west of the centre of Hull and they are still there. In 1911 the company signed a contract with the Ottoman/Turkish Government to supply bandages and dressings in the run up to the First Balkan War. When Horatio joined the company they had three employees and on winning this contract the grew to 54 workers. They continued to grew buying out local business competitors and obtaining new businesses such as sanitary towel manufacturers. Days after the outbreak of WWI the company won a contract to supply surgical and field dressings worth £350000 (about £34 million at today's equivalent). By the end of the war they were making dressings for many governments and the American Red Cross plus they were making such things as weapon belts for the British forces. At their peak they had 1200 employees. During the siege of Antwerp the Belgian Army lost all their dressings etc and contracted T.J. Smith and Nephew to replace them as soon as possible. They manged to produce and deliver 10 tons of dressings in five days.

Typical first aid post set up in WWI.

Field dressing pack of WWI and I can confirm that they were still almost identical in 1980's.

After the war trade obviously fell off and numbers of workers reduced to 183. The company ticked along opening a business in Canada in 1921, and then came another break when the British Government brought in to legislation in 1924 that all factories and mines etc had to be supplied with first aid kits and work was found. In 1928 the future was secured when Horatio bought into  the development of an adhesive dressing from Germany that became Elastoplast that is almost the generic term for a plaster in British circles. In 1937 the company was incorporated and became Smith and Nephew.

WWII did the company no harm despite bombing of the factory in Neptune Street and by 1946 they had developed waterproof Elastoplast. By the 1950's they had decided to buy their textiles from the Far East and had started to modernise their processes by introducing one of the first commercially available computers called 'Leo'. 1954 saw them by a company manufacturing hypodermic needles and opening businesses in Australia and New Zealand. Horation Nelson Smith died in 1960. In 1961 Elastoplast had captured three quarters of the market. The business was doing so well that they had to fight off a take over staged by Unilever and they were successful and remain an independent company still in the Stock Market 100 companies list.

The Neptune Street factory as it is today and one of the first things you see when approaching the city from the west and very colourful at night.

Today the company is quoted as having assets of $4.1 billion with 11000 employees in 90 countries. Today they are still in wound dressings, products for surgery and implants such as hip and knee replacement implants and a host of other products in many medical fields. However they do not sell cod liver oil. A truely global company from Hull.

Saturday 10 January 2015

Fact 54. Statue for MP of 32 years.

Charles Henry Wilson was born in Hull 22nd April 1833 into the family of Thomas Wilson who had started in shipping in 1822. That company became Wilson Line in 1840.

Charles attended Kingston College in Hull and along with his older brother David and younger brother Arthur joined the shipping business in 1850 as joint managers. In 1869 their father died and Charles and Arthur took over the running of the company, with David becoming a silent partner.

in 1871 Charles married Florence Jane Helen Wellesley, the daughter of Col William Wellesley, who was nephew of the Duke of Wellington. They had five surviving children, three girls and two boys. (Millicent Florence, Charles Henry Jr., Guy Greville, Enid Edith, Gwladys Alive).

 Under Charles Snr. and Arthur's stewardship Thomas Wilson and Sons became the largest privately owned shipping company in the world by 1903. Even by 1891 they were making fast profits by today's standards with a profit of £2.5 million that would be equivalent to approximately £270 million today! See Fact 4 regarding Wilson Shipping Line.

The saying in Hull was that 'Hull is the Wilson Line and Wilson Line is Hull. This can be illustrated by the fast that the Wilson family were on the boards of all the major undertakings such as the Docks and railway developments. In 1866 Charles Snr. also paid for the building of the Seaman's Mission in Postern Gate that became the seaman's church and now is a pub. Charles Snr. participated in the politcal life of the city and was High Sheriff of Hull for many years and elected to Parliament as Member for Hull in 1874 for the Liberal party. He held this seat until it was abolished in 1885 and was then elected for the constituency of Hull West which he held until 1906 when he stepped down. His son Charles Jnr. was then elected in his place. In 1901 Charles and Wilson Line became further embedded into the life of Hull when they bought the ailing Earles Ship Yard (See Fact. 46) that employed many thousands in the area. Later they amalgamated with the North Eastern Railway to become Wilsons and North East Railway Shipping Company in 1906 which went on to build further docks in Hull.

Charles Henry Wilson (1833–1907), 1st Baron Nunburnholme
Charles Henry Wilson painted 1880 - 1890.

A caricature of Charles Wilson from  about the same time as the painting above. Vanity Fair 1885

In 1878 Charles bought the 14000 acre estate of Warter Priory, just NE of Pocklington and 24 miles NW of Hull, from Lord Muncaster. The estate was well known as a sporting venue and a record bag for one day was recorded as 3824 pheasants. Two fox hunts also used the land for their pursuits. This probably why the painting above pictures him with a shot gun. Charles and Jane did not seek out a high social life and did not attend local race meetings etc like his brother Arthur. Warter Priory was a large country house but when purchased the Wilson's appointed architects Smith and Broderick of Hull to supervise the addition of a great hall, a three story clock tower and a grand marble staircase. The changes gave the house a hundred rooms or which thirty were bedrooms. After Charles's death his wife maintained the house and estate until 1929 when it was sold to the Hon. George Vesty who was part of the large Shipping and business Vesty Empire. On his death in 1968 the estate was sold to the Marquis of Normanby and the Guiness Family Trust. The purchase was made for the shooting estate really as the family home was Musgrave Castle and despite a search no tenant could be found. In May 1972 the entire contents were sold off, and very shortly afterwards the house was demolished and the remains used to fill the lake. Presumably the National Trust or English heritage were not interested at the time.

Warter Priory
Warter Priory.

Warter Priory interior.

Charles and Arthur realised in 1901 that none of their children would be able to take on the business when they retired so they appointed Oswald Sanderson as Managing Director. Sanderson was the son of an American ship builder and was an astute choice as he managed the business well. Charles Snr., despite being a industrialists also saw the plight of his workers and had great sympathy for the need of a Trade Union movement. In 1893 during increased tension with dock workers a strike had be called Charles Snr. contributed to a fund for the wives and children of the strikers as he couldn't bear to see them suffer. As a Liberal MP he was bitterly opposed to the Boer War in 1899 but despite this he lent to Government his companies best ship, the 'Ariosto' for the duration.

Charles was appointed Baron Nunburnholme of Kingston upon Hull in 1906 when he stood down as an MP for Hull west. Nunbornholme is a small hamlet near to Pocklington and Warter Priory. It was at Warter Priory where Charles died unexpectedly in October 1907. There were demands from the general public to recognise his work as an MP for 32 years and the great good he had brought to the City. A public subscription was opened and a statue commissioned. The sculptor was to be Derwent Wood. The statue of Portland Stone was unveiled in 1913. The statue has a good position in front of the Guild Hall entrance in Hull  and is well visiting when wandering around the 'Old Town'.

Statue of Charles Henry Wilson in his Baronial robes outside the Guild Hall, Hull. It is Grade II Listed and the inscription reads;
'Charles Henry Wilson, First Baron Nunburnholme. Born 1833, died 1907. 32 years a Member of Parliament for Hull and a great benefactor to the city. Erected by public subscription'.

Monday 5 January 2015

Fact 53. Hull is a sister city to Niigata in Japan.

Niigata is a sister city of Hull. I understands that a sister city is the same as a twin city. Niigata is the capital city of the Prefecture (county) of the same name. It lies on the north west coast of the main Japanese island of Honshu and faces the island in the Japan Sea of Sado. The city has a population of about 800,000. Niigata apparently means 'New Lagoon' and the city is also sometimes called the 'City of Water' as it is at the confluence of two rivers.

The city is connected to National and International destinations by air and to Sado Island. The Shinkansen or Bullet Train was connected through to Tokyo in 1991.

The City was established at the mouth of the Shinano River around 600 years ago. About 5 miles away the Agano River reached the sea. A town was built there too, called Nuttari. In the canal many canals were dug in the area and  eventually this led to both rivers reaching the Sea of Japan at the same outlet. This then allowed much land to be converted to rice paddy and this helped the Niigata Prefucture bcome the main rice growing area in Japan. The deeper water at the single outlet also meant that a port became established. Fishing developed with boats ranging far and wide, as they do to this day. In 1730 further canals were dug and the rivers once again re aligned with the larger amount of water now discharging from the Agano River and by passing Niigata. More land was able to be put under cultivation

Rice paddies near Niigata

The city of Niigata and the Agano River and bridges. Sado Island can be seen in the distance to the left.

In 1858 Niigata was coosen as one of five ports to be opened up for International Trade at the end of the Japanese Isolation period. It wasn't until 1869 that the first foreign ship visited though due to the need for dredging the shallow waters of the port. In 1914 Nuttari on the east bank of the Agano River was merged with Niigata on the west side.

Niigata was lucky not to go down in history as it was selected as one of the targets for the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan to end WWII. It was to be the target of the second bomb if Japan didn't surrender after the first on Hiroshima. Other targets were Kokura and Nagasaki. Rumours of a bombing lead the Governor to announce an evacuation of the city and it was deserted for several days. In the end poor weather over the area and the extra distance from the airbases meant they were spared and Nagasaki went down in the history books.

In 1955 a great fir devastated much of the city centre and in the 1960's the old canals were filled in allowing more building and easier transport links. Japan is in an earthquake zone and in 1964 at 13:23 the city was hit by a 7.5 earthquake. Fortunately only 29 were killed but 1960 properties were destroyed, 6640 partially destroyed and 15298 damaged by liquification where the land becomes unstable due to the vibrations and foundations sink.

Buildings toppled by liquification in Nigata in 1964.

Further earthquakes shook the area but little or no damage was recorded in 2004, 2007 and 2011. Inland from the city are mountains that offer skiing in the winter.

Ski resorts not too far from Niigata.

At this time of the year, the Lunar New Year, in the area are several festivals. about 10000 visit Shibata to witness the great Mochi Soup competition and if that doesn't interest you maybe you could go along to the Yakushido Shrine where the Son in Law Throwing Festival takes place. It is the 15th of January this year so if you hurry you could still make it! It has taken place for over 600 years and is for all the local men of Matsunoyama who have got married in the past year. They get thrown into the snow presumably by their mother in laws, but in the photo it looks like they now use proxy men. Afterwards all visit the shrine and whilst congratulating themselves daub each other with sacred ashes and snow! 

Son in Law throwing near Niigata, Japan. (No Mother in Law jokes from me).

I can not find when or why a twinning was set up between Hull and Niigata but there do seem to be similarities between our cities. Outlets of large rivers, port city, fishing and agriculture. I reckon inviting a delegation over for our City of Culture year would be great fun and what a draw there would be if we introduced Son in Law Throwing at some stage.

Friday 2 January 2015

Fact 52. The world's largest manufacturer of conveyor belting is from Hull.

In June 1861 a 25 year old currier rented a sublet building at 211/2 Bishop Lane in Hull. A currier is a tradesman that following the tanning of a hide, dresses and finishes the leather, and he was called Joseph Henry Fenner. He made all things leather but especially hoses and straps and in 1868 there is an invoice for 50ft of leather house at 2/6p per foot. Business was not easy as there  was a slump in 1866/67 and he went  broke twice. However he made sure that all his debtors were paid and by 1874 his business had expanded such that he had to find bigger premises and moved to Chapel Lane, one street away. By then his main work was supplying leather transmission belts that drove the machines of industry.

Joseph H. Fenner.

An advert from 1880's. As can be seen Fenner also made belts from woven hair and walrus hide and seamless woven hoses.

Unfortunately at 50 Joseph died following being thrown from his pony and trap in 1866. His two sons Henry, the elder, and Walter had been working in the business and continued the work.

plaque - Fenner's
Blue plaque on the building in Chapel Lane.

The business continued to expand and by 1890 they needed a larger factory so purchased 18 acres of land in village of Marfleet a few miles east of the centre of Hull. By 1893 the factory had started production. The company had built house for it's workers at 3/6p and 5/- out of wages of 25/- and 28/- per week. They were also one of the first palces to have a telephone in Hull. They were given the number 'Hull8'. 1 to 6 were allocated to the telephone company themselves. By WWI they were exporting 70% of their production. The War obviously decimated that market and they were lucky to survive to the end of the Conflict.

By 1920's they moved away from leather belts to woven belting and invested in looms. Then with the coming of machinery being powered by electric motors they started to sell endless rubber V belts that were made by Gilmer Ltd in Philadelphia in UK, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Sales continued to grow and in 1936 Fenner built their own factory to make V belts at Marfleet and the first ones came of the line in 1937. They also  started making pulleys at this time. In the same year the Company became a Public Company with a share capital of £250,000. The V belts and pulleys were the mainstay of the business until the 1990's.

In 1940 the Company had moved a lot of it's manufacturing to shadow factories in Heckmondwike and Colne. This proved a wise move as in 1941 the Marfleet factory was badly bombed.

Bomb disposal team with 250lb weapon removed from Fenner's factory in Marfleet. Probably 1941.

The company worked hard for the war effort making military webbing belts, parachute harnesses and over 3 million feet of fire hose. They also supplied the V belts that were used on the 'bouncing bombs that were designed by Barnes Wallis for the Dam Busters Mission.
The bomb had to be spun the opposite way from it's direction of travel so that it did not 'dig in' when bouncing and so cleared the protective nets at the dams. The V belts use can be seen from the motor to axis of the bomb to induce spin.

After the war rebuilding commenced and the company thought of new products such as conveyor belting. Sydney Hainsworth joined Fenner's straight from University in 1921. He was appointed a director in 1930 and in 1945 promoted again to Chairman and was to influence the growth of the company until he retired in 1974 when he was made President. By 1947 Marfleet was back in production and in 1950's factories were opened in India, Australia and South Africa too. In 1950 there was a fatal fire at Creswell Colliery In Nottinghamshire. The fact that the rubber and canvas convey belting caught fire due to friction caused 80 deaths and the National Coal Board asked Fenner to look into a solution to the problem. They developed Fennerplast which is still in production today and is a mainstay. Through to the 1990's the company continued to create new products and buy or merge with other companies so that, along with their v belt and pulley business and the conveyor belting they were handling automotive oil seal, roller and wheel conveyors, high pressure vacuum pumps and electro microscopes among other items.

Dated 6th April 1970 - Firm's New Premises Opened - Ray Illingworth, Jimmy Binks, Mr S. B. Hainsworth, Brian Close and Sir Leonard Hutton at the opening of the new premises for J.H. Fenner Ltd. in Spyvee Street, Hull.
L to R. Ray Illingworth, England and Yorkshire Captain; Jimmy Binks, born in Hull and played for Yorkshire and England; S.B. Hainsworth, Cairman J.H. Fenner and Co. Ltd; Brian Close, Yorkshire and England Captain, Sir Len Hutton, Yorkshire and England Captain. Taken in the 1960's.

Len Hutton worked for Fenner's in publicity and marketing following his cricket days. My father also worked for Fenner's all his working life following WWII and his claim to fame was that in the annual head office cricket match he score more runs than Sir Len Hutton. Sir Len scored 1 and my dad got 2!

This railway bridge on Hedon Road near Marfleet always reminded me I was close to home until it was changed with the road widening scheme to four lanes in 2003.

In the 1990's the company had a major reorganisation and the change was made from a diverse engineering business to one concentrating  on reinforced polymers. Business were sold and the company was left with no debt. Conveyor belting is still made at Marfleet and 80% of the production is exported. Along with other large plants all over the world Fenner's are the largest manufacturers of conveyor belting in the world. The Registered office is at Hesslewood Hall west of Hull and there are plans for a completely new research centre at Marfleet in the near future. A Hull company conveying goods and driving the world.