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Friday 30 December 2016

Fact 84. Model Makers Magic, from Hull

Humbrol started out in Kingston upon Hull, or just plain Hull, in 1919, under the name of the Humber Oil Company. It started as a maker of bicycle oil to service the boom in cycling in the flat lands around Hull. By 1935 people had been asking if they would produce a paint for renovating bikes, and this is when they developed their art enamel paint. The paint was only produced in black and was sold in a tin with just enough paint to restore the bike frame and mud guards, so no waste, and cost 6d. Within two years there was a range of 12 colours.

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The Humber Oil Company factory on Hedon Road in Hull.

In the 1950's the plastic model kit became popular, especially with young lads, and under Gerald Barton the company changed it's name to Humbrol and started to develop a line of paints to cater for this growing market. The paint was produced in 1/2 oz or 14 ml tins that had the code and the colour inside on the lid. Later the paint was called 'One Hour' paint as it was supposed to dry in that time and the range grew to 50 shades. The paint has also been available in 2 oz (50 ml) and 5 oz (120 ml) and spray cans.

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On the left can be seen a tin of Art Oil paint in a slightly larger tin. This was produced from about 1958/59. The One Hour paints in the slightly smaller tin were introduced in about 1961.

In the late 1960's the company started to produce specifically matched colours to the original colours for the bodies and camouflage of the Luftwaffe, RAF, USAAF etc and also the shades that were matched to the various UK train companies, all to make it easier for modelling enthusiasts. 

Mario at
The PL15 display case for Humbrol paints that was found in every model shop.

In 1976 Humbrol was bought by Hobby Products, part of the Borden Inc.. Borden also bought the French model maker, Heller, in 1981, and Airfix models joined the group in 1986. There was a bad fire in the Hedon Road factory in 1986 when an acetone spill ignited and caused the death of a young female employee. By 1994 an Irish investment Group, Allen and McGuire, bought the group and during restructuring sold off the French Heller Co. They then placed Airfix and Humbrol together under the Humbrol name. Heller continued to make models for Hunbrol, so when they went bust, they brought down Humbrol and into administration in 2006. Later that year Hornby Hobbies Ltd. bought parts of the business, and still own them today, although the Hedon Road factory was closed down. Much of production moved to China, but over half has now been brought back to the UK and the Humbrol brand paints are now made in Manchester and London and the range has further extended to 171 shades.

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Copyright Paul Gazzard and licenced for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence
The 1957 F6 Hawker Hunter fighter plane X509 had flown for 54 Squadron before being retired and used at the gate of RAF Chivenor. When that base was closed it was removed and restored before being restored by apprentices at BAe Brough and being placed outside the Hedon Road factory of Humbrol. The factory closed in 2006 when the company was sold. This picture was taken in 2007.

Hawker Hunter XF509
Copyright Paul Croft and licenced for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence
The aeroplane was saved and once again restored before being palced in the saftery of Fort Paull, east of Hull.

Humbrol paints may be gone from Hull, but is not forgotten, as the name lives on and model makers come from every generation. I well remember get a model for Christmas and then later up to the model shop to get any paints that I didn't already have, along with a tube of Britfix polystyrene cement that was also made by Humbrol. It was so difficult to not get it everywhere, especially the cockpit canopies. That was a sign of a real beginner! I hope this Hull  history lesson has brought back some memories for some of you.

Thursday 22 December 2016

Fact 83. Ronnie Hilton was the cover version king.

Ronnie Hilton was born in Hull on 26th January 1926. I have seen his father as being a soldier or a seaman, but he left Paisley Street School, just to the west of West Park (Where the KCOM Stadium is today), at age 14 after his four brothers signed up for the forces. He went to work in an aircraft factory until he lied about his age and managed to sign up for the Army and joined the Highland Light Infantry, supposedly aged 16. He must have done well as I have read that as a Corporal he was heard singing in the shower by the Regimental Bandmaster and ordered to audition at the band room. From then on he was the appointed resident singer with the regimental band!

He was demobbed in 1947 and started work at a sewing machine factory in Leeds, as a lathe operator on £8 a week. His love of singing took him to enter a competition at a newly opened dance hall in Leeds. The prize was a month stint singing with the Jonny Addlestone Band at the Starlight Roof, and of course he won. He stayed with them for four years

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A very young Adrian Hill in a picture that looks like he is still working at the sewing machine factory in the late 1940's

Whilst singing with the Jonny Addlestone Band he was heard by Walter Ridley, the A and R man for HMV records. They became very good friends. It was Walter that suggested he change his name and have an operation to remove a scar near his mouth (I have read that it was a hare lip but it certainly isn't that obvious in the picture above). It was also Walter that first arranged a recording contract for him. His debut as Ronnie Hilton was on stage at the Dudley Hippodrome in July 1954. He was also singing on the radio with the Northern Variety Orchestra, and the sewing machine factory changed their lunch time in the canteen so that his fellow workers could listen to him sing. He continued to work at the factory, along with his singing until the release of his second single 'I still Believe,' with 'Veni Vidi Vici' on the B side later in 1954.

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Ronnie's second album from 1958.

Ronnie had a minor hit with a cover of the 'Yellow Rose of Texas' just as Bill Haley's 'Rock Around the Clock' went to No.1, and the life of a crooner became difficult. He had a No.1 record with 'No Other Love' in 1956, and it became his theme song, and in 1965 he sold a million records with his 'A Windmill in Old Amsterdam'. This became a children's favourite for many years and probably overshadowed his other 16 chart hits. The fashion in the 1950's was to remake tunes from America and Ronnie did very well with remakes of other's recordings.

Ronnie Hilton (Adrian Hill), by Bob Collins, 1950s - NPG x137143 - © estate of Bob Collins / National Portrait Gallery, London
© estate of Bob Collins / National Portrait Gallery, London
Ronnie Hilton in the late 1950's.

Despite his recording career being overtaken by Elvis and later the Beetles he continued to be very popular singing as a guest on many television and variety shows. He appeared at three Royal Command Performances and even sang privately for the Royal Family at Windsor. However he did suffer from depression over the change in direction of his career. He also suffered a stroke in 1976 that took him a good few years to recover fully from. He was always busy in summer season work and performed in many pantos during the season. In 1985 his wife Joan died. They had three children together, Geraldine, Jane and Derry. A few years later he married Christine (or Chrissy) Westoll and they had a son, Simon.

Ronnie and his second wife, Chrissy, at the rehearsals for the Panto 'Cinderella' at the New Theatre in Hull in 1989 soon after they got married

In the 1989 the British Academy of Song Composers and Authors awarded Ronnie Hilton their Gold Medal for services to popular music. He next came to the fore when he was chosen to present the Radio 2 programme 'Sounds of the 50's'  in 1990. He was able to indulge in the songs of his best era. He continued to present it for around five years.

At home he loved a round of golf and was a good family man. He was very proud of his Northern roots, despite being somewhat misguided and supporting Leeds United until he died! Despite not really making an impact in America he was part of the sound track of my life as my Dad was always singing his tunes when shaving in the morning. Very proud to add Ronnie Hilton to the list of Hullensians.

Monday 5 December 2016

Fact 82. St. Mary's Lowgate, is the oldest in Hull.

The full name of the church is St Mary's the Virgin, Lowgate, and it is the oldest church in Hull. It is first in the records as a Chapel of Ease connected to The Priory at North Ferriby in 1327. By 1333  the chapel received a licence from Archbishop Myton that permitted services to be held so that in all but a name it was now a Church, despite being known as the 'Chapel of the Blessed St. Mary'. The clergy for the 'church' were provided by the Ferriby Chapel up to the Dissolution under Henry VIII. The Church may have been much larger than the present one as it had five altars and five guilds attached to it. There is a story that HenryVIII had it all pulled down other, than the eastern end, and used the bricks to rebuild the manor house and erect the Garrison that he had built on the east bank of the River Hull. This is probably not true as parts of the building there today are dated prior to this. It maybe that the story came about as the tower may have collapsed in 1518.

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St. Mary's from the Lowgate, looking north.

There is little evidence of work carried out in the Elizabethan era, but afterwards periodic activity is evidenced, with a new tower being built in 1697. The building fabric was of brick with stone facing. During the 17th and 18th century most of the work seems to have been carried out on the interior with the site of the altar changing, new chandeliers, lofts and galleries increasing the capacity and removing the rood screen.

In 1826 the church and tower had the battlements removed and the tower covered in Roman Cement that was made by local company Earle's. Later in the 19th century a lot of work was done to bring the church to Victorian 'standards'. The tower was heightened, and opened to allow the pavement through it. The galleries were removed, and the whole church covered in ashlar and another south isle added to compensate for the loss of the galleries.

St Mary's Church yard looking north, with the south porch and aisle that was added in the 1860's by Sir Gilbert Scott. The monument is the WWI war memorial erected in 1920.

In 1801 John Scott I was the lecturer at Holy Trinity Church in Hull when he was offered the living of St. Mary's by the patron. He stayed at the church until his death in 1834. His son, John Scott II, took over. It was he that commissioned Sir Gilbert Scott, his cousin to carry out the works on the church in the 1860's. Unfortunately John Scott II died in 1865, aged 55, so did not see the work completed. He had five sons and before he died he allowed them and friends to use the church at the church. This then became the start of Hull F.C. rugby club. F.A. Scott was the only player and went on to captain the side in 1870. One of the sons was another John Scott III and he again took over from his Father at St. Mary's. He became Hull F.C's Club President in 1879/80. He became well loved by the parishioners and started the social action that the church is still associated with today, such as a soup kitchen, a penny bank for the poor and finding funds to have a nurse for the parish well before the NHS was conceived. He moved to Leeds in 1883 and died in 1906. Opposite the church in Lowgate, in the old General Post Office building is the pub The Three Johns Scotts to celebrate the family ties to the area.
The rood screen is what visually gives the Church instant appeal, and is the most recent addition. It was paid for anonymously in Memory of King Edward VII. It was designed by Temple Moor and made by Gilbert Boulton and erected in 1926. At the top, either side of the cross are St. Mary and St. John. The four 'Doctor's' of the church are below them, St. Ambrose, St. Gregory, St. Jerome and St. Augustine of Hippo. On the cross rail below them are ten angles playing various instruments.
A lovely photograph of the north aisle and chapel of the Nativity that is dedicated to John Scott III. It also shows the lovely stained glass windows that were largely installed in the works between 1866 and 1900. The work is by Clayton and Bell whose works are found all over England, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They started in business in 1855 and at their peak employed 300 at their Regent Street, London works. The were working up until 1993.

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This is the second southern aisle added by Gilbert Scott in the 1860's. The Chapel is dedicated to St. Michael and is in memory of Canon Scott Ram who was a former vicar of St Mary's and died in 1928. The chapel was blessed in 1930.

My Thanks to Mr. Lee Brodie and his twitter account @LeeBrodie1 for the beautiful interior. photographs. The Church is once again looking to raise funds to continue the work of preserving this magnificent church. There is an active bell ringing tower as the bells were restored after 50 years in 2002. They do much work with the homeless and the Church is acting more and more as a music venue too. They are open for the September Civic Open weekend and often the bell tower and roof are open to visit. It is a little gem that should not be missed.

Thursday 1 December 2016

Fact 81. Scale Lane swing bridge is 'ride on'.

Scale Lane Swing Bridge is a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the River Hull. This river was the reason for the development of the City of Hull, but has also been a distinct boundary between east and west that has intensified rivalries between the two Hull rugby league teams etc. There has never been a bridge in this  area before as it was an early working area for shipping and has, until the 1970's, always been busy with barge and lighter traffic. Now the bridge links the Old Town historic and museum quarters, via Scale Lane, to the east bank and the Deep Aquarium. The east bank is the site of much future development that has been postponed by the crash of 2008, but now leads to the Deep Submarium. It was opened on Friday 28th June 2013 by the Lord Mayor of Hull.

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Scale Lane Swing Bridge from the east bank.

The bridge has an overall span of 57 mt with 37   mt from the pivot and leaves a navigable channel of 30 mt. There are 350 tonnes of steel and 650 tonnes of concrete in its construction. When moving it can carry 1000 people and when closed 4000. The electric motors move the bridge smoothly and it can be fully open in 100 seconds.

Scale Lane Bridge, Swinging Pedestrian Bridge Begininning
West end of Scale Lane Bridge showing the seating area and retail unit.

The concept of a bridge in this area was conceived by Yorkshire Forward, a development organisation. The architects of the bridge were Jonathon McDowell and Renato Benedetti who had worked together since 1996. Their philosophy is to design a bridge as a destination, rather than just a means of crossing. The Scale Lane Bridge is probably the only moving bridge that allows passengers to remain on it whilst in operation. The bridge has to open to maintain the right of navigation up the River Hull. The 'roadway' has three levels, one that has no steps, one with steps down and up to a third seating level at the top. There are also seats between the two levels. The shape is like an apostrophe or a like a pinball 'flipper' arm.

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The full span across the River Hull.

The concept was engineer designed by Alan Baxter Associates and they have incorporated a smooth and graceful mechanism that allows pedestrians to remain on the bridge when in operation. Alan Baxter Associates have been in business since 1974 and have been involved with designing railway stations, and projects at Hampton Court, Salisbury Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster. Alan Baxter Associates and McDowell, Benedetti collaborated building the bridge over the River Aire weir at Castleford.

photos © Timothy Soar
The approach to Scale Lane Bridge from the south passing under the Tidal Barrier and the Myton Road Bridge.

The construction was carried out by Qualter Hall, company founded in Lancashire in 1860, when George Bower designed and patented a new piston and ring. To build it he joined with blacksmith  John Qualter and engine fitter Edward Hall. Unfortunately the American Civil War then caused severe hardship in Lancashire as the cotton mills closed through lack of cotton. Qualter and Hall 'emigrated' over the boarder to Yorkshire, and set up in Barnsley. Here they got involved with railways. After the Civil War the three then made the new type of piston that proved its worth. They then became involved in building winding and haulage engines for the mining industry, and also built a stand for Barnsley Football Club. After the coal mining industry fell away they became involved in bespoke project engineering for mines, power generation, water, transport, rail and port projects as well as nuclear, in the UK and worldwide.

Scale Lane Bridge at night | Hull
Scale Lane Swing Bridge by night.

On the west bank approach the bridge is complimented by a public artwork by Nayan Kulkarni. The area is measured out with bronze strips that have back lit names of historic parts of ships set in to them. The area is planted up with separate seating areas and the whole area is bathed in birdsong from concealed speakers to create a calming and rural soundscape. When the bridge is due to open a rhythmic bell and light operate from the bridge as a gentle warning to pedestrians. On the east side a gate is closed to prevent access, but on the west people can step on and off the bridge whilst the bridge is in motion. Over the pivot area is a retail unit that is still to be let. The design and build has won many awards, including the Civic Trust and RIBA Yorkshire.

To ride on the bridge it is opened most weekends, regardless of river traffic usage. The times will alter with the tides but on Saturday they are usually 1100 or 1500, and on Sunday 1030 or 1100. To check the times please see;                                                   ,851675&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL 

Monday 21 November 2016

Fact 80. Albert Dock was the first Western Dock.

As Trade increased, and vessels got larger there was already calls for dock space in Hull as early as the 1830's. Even when Railway Dock in 1846, and Victoria Dock in 1850 opening more space was still required. In an effort to start the ball rolling The Hull Corporation, North Eastern Railway Co. and Hull Trinity House formed the West Dock Company. They drew up plans for a dock 1000 yds long and 14 acres in area. The tactic worked and The Hull Dock Company also formulated a bid to be considered by Parliament. In 1861 an Act was passed favouring the Hull Dock Company bid. This was for a dock 2500 yds long

1956 Hull Old Dock
This picture shows Humber Dock on the right and Prices Dock in the top right. Railway Dock extension is behind the tall warehouse above the station. The station is the original Manor House Street Station that was the original terminus of the Hull and Selby Railway in 1840. Once Paragon Street was built this station became goods only. Albert Dock entrance lock can just be seen in the bottom left corner. The area with the small boats, just south of the station was known as 'Paraffin Creek'.

Construction started in 1862. The site engineer was J.C. Hawkshaw. The plan was for the southern wall, next to the Humber, to be constructed on reclaimed land and a series of cofferdams were built to enable that work to be undertaken in three stages. A foundation stone was laid on the more easily constructed north wall in 1864 by the Chairman of the Hull Dock Company, William Wright. The walls of the dock were built of sandstone brought from Horsforth, near Leeds. These were fixed by sand lime mortar sat on a 10 foot thick concrete foundation. The whole sitting on a strata of clay. To reach this level clay and sand had to be excavated. These levels caused problems during the construction with 'boils' being fairly frequent. This was when fresh water that had found it's way along the sand level from the Wolds aquifer burst through. Work was delayed a month in 1866 when a boil caused a breech of the southern wall and the excavation was flooded. In 1867 there was further problems with boils and this time the work was put back eight months. This difficulty also led to the length of the dock beeing reduced form 400' long to 320' and a width of 80'. On completion it was still one of the largest locks in the country. The depth in the dock was to be maintained between 29' at spring tides and 24'6" at neap tides.

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Showing the lock entrance and the turning basin inside the lock and the length of the dock looking west.

The dock machinery including the capstans and lock gates, were powered by hydraulics with the system using 3 boilers supplying steam to a 40 HP steam engine that supplied the pressure of 700 psi via an accumulator. The North Eastern Railway had to re-route their track when the dock was constructed by then laid at least a double track down both sides of the dock with a track passing over the lock entrance via a swing bridge that was also hydraulic. That seems to be have been removed but I'm not sure when. The cost of building was £556,479, of which about £111000 was for the excavations, and about the same for the dock walls and £88,600 for the lock, not including the gates and machinery.  It was officially opened in 1869 by the Prince and Princess of Wales, Albert Edward, (who became Edward VII) and Alexandra. And was called 'Albert Dock' in his honour.

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Tug 'Salvage' assisting the Danish vessel 'Freesia', registered in Aarhus, through Albert Dock Lock in 1962.

In 1972 it was closed to traffic whilst it was altered to accommodate the Hull deep sea fishing fleet as they were to move from St. Andrew's Dock, a little further west. The move was completed by 1975 and officially re-opened in 1976 by  Rt. Hon. Frederick MP, Minister of Agriculture Fisheries and Food. However soon afterwards the deep sea fishing declined rapidly after fishing grounds were lost following the Cod Wars.

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An unusual item is that there is a public right of way runs along the Humber bank by the dock. At the west end, near to the city centre, this has been led on a walkway over the warehouse. This gives good views of the dock and the Deep, Pier etc. The fact that the hydraulic swing bridge has been removed means access is over the lock gates that again is unusual. A little hidden gem for visitors to the City that is not much of a walk from the Marina area.

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The dock is very exposed to the wind, from just about any direction and  with it being comparatively narrow for larger modern ships it was always quite 'hairy' passing down it's length with any wind blowing. In recent times the dock has been used for laying offshore vessels during the downturn due to the oil price fall. Commercial shipping still uses the dock though.

In December 2013 a spring tide and tidal surge caused Cyclone Xaver an over topping of the Humber at Albert Dock and consequent flooding of the City Centre. The remedial work was brought forward two years and was completed in November 2015.

Sunday 13 November 2016

Fact 79. John Enderby Jackson, impresario.

John Enderby Jackson was born in Hull in 1827, Myton Gate. His father was a tallow chandler and soap manufacturer and as the business had been run by several generations, right back to south sea whalers on his mother's side, the Enderby's, he assumed that his son would follow in his footsteps. John went to Hull Grammar School and helped out when he could. The business supplied wax and tallow candles to one of the four theatres in Hull at the time, the Theatre Royal. Whilst lighting, adjusting and snuffing the candles in the theatre John was beguiled by the music.

Photo credit to Hull History Centre, via the
The Theatre Royal opened in 1810 midway down Humber Street, half way between Queens Street and Humber Dock, about where 'Fruit' is now, but I'm not sure what side of the street it was on. It must have been quite a prestigious theatre as it was granted a Royal Patent by Act of  Parliament. This meant that top London stars would be attracted to Hull. This is the reason for the title Theatre Royal. It burned down in 1859 and was rebuilt on the same site in 1865, but again burned down in 1869. A new theatre was built with the same name, on Anlaby Road, the same year.

His father forbade him from learning an instrument at first so John learned to read music and study composition etc. He remembered Paganini playing at the Theatre Royal in 1835 and was further resolved to take up music. he  would talk to the musicians in the orchestra pit as he carried out his chores. By the time he was 12 he was quite an accomplished player and by 15 he could read, arrange and compose small pieces for orchestras. He was also making contacts all mover the country.

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John Enderby Jackson.

The coming of the railways proved to be the conduit for the growth of brass band competition and their growth. In 1847 the Leeds Temperance brass band won work for the season at Scarborough and after a visit to London and conversations with other John went round the railway companies asking for concessions for brass bands moving on the railways, which he managed to obtain. He became focused on bring music to the working people, and it was this he was honoured by Queen Victoria after he had organised the music for the visit of Her Majesty to Hull in 1853. In that year the first brass band competition was run in Manchester but in 1855 John organised one at the Zoological Gardens in Hull and 21 bands competed. In the next four years he arranged competitions in nearly twenty cities in England and also composed various test pieces to be played at them.
The Davy Paxman Standard Iron works Band, 1890's

About this time he had married Elizabeth and they were living in Prospect Street, Hull. Next came the first National Brass Band Competition that he helped organise at Crystal Palace. He also assembled 12 teams of hand bell ringers to compete against each other to. On the first day 72 bands took part and on the second 98! John's fame spread from Yorkshire and Lancashire to the Midlands and bands were formed in many factories and mines. Having conquered Britain he traveled to Australia with his family on a three year tour. he was actually offered the job of managing the Melbourne Opera House but ill health brought him home. On return the family moved to Scarborough and their son, Edmund, was born. Unfortunately he was killed in WWI in 1918. After a rest after his return from the southern hemisphere John set about managing tours of plays and concert parties around the country. His 8 year old daughter acted as pianist on the concert party tour. He then composed music for his talented daughter, traveled abroad promoting music for workers and took up painting. He never failed to keep busy and died aged 76 in April 1903. He lies buried at the Manor Road Cemetery in Scarborough.
The Hull Postmans Band 1910.

There can't be many people who have not heard of the Grimethorpe Colliery, Black Dyke Mills or the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Bands that have been famous throughout the land. Despite the loss of many colliery  and works bands over the last few decades, brass bands are a live and well and still extremely competitive with leagues and promotion and many competitions. It is still music for the people played by the people as can be seen in the photos above as I was struck by the mix of old and young in the bands. The Salvation Army Bands are always welcome to raise a tune and smarten your step. A name of another unsung hero from Hull that has made the world a little more cheerful for all of us. Remember him when you listen to the music of brass as we approach Christmas. 

Thursday 10 November 2016

Fact 78. Seven Sea started in Hull.

It had long been known by fishermen that cod liver oil was very good for the treatment of bone disease, rheumatism and malnutrition, but the oil of those days was very different to today's. It tasted ghastly, was a very dark colour and smelled of rotten fish, as basically that was what it was! After catching the fish the livers were placed in a barrel and left to rot until the oil separated. It wasn't until around 1850 that steam was applied to heat up the livers and this gave a higher yield and a 'cleaner' oil. It was still, what they would today call, a niche market.

In the 1890's nine out of ten children in the UK had rickets, a bone disease similar to osteoporosis in older people. This indicated that much more research was needed to find the cause. By the 1920's it was found that it was caused by a lack of vitamins A and D.

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Classic signs of rickets.

The cod liver oil produced at the time was not largely of medicinal quality, and what there was came mainly from Norway. By the 1930's trawler owners in Hull were looking to get more value from their fishing and experimented with fitting their trawlers with steam boilers to render the livers down at sea, whilst they were still fresh and store the oil in tanks to be landed when landing their fish. This gave a better quality, colour and with a less fishy taste and smell. The oil was pumped to the Hull Fish Meal Company and it was largely used for adding to animal feed stuffs and for vetereniary oils, as well as oils used in things like steel rolling mills and tanneries to make leather, especially for furniture and chamois leather.

The enterprise that became Seven Seas was conceived by Owen Hellyer and Tom Boyd, both Hull trawler owners. Owen had a great understanding of business and was keen to learn about the chemistry and technology required. He was a keen sportsman, but shunned publicity. Tom was a forceful character building his fleet from nothing, and also a keen sportsman. Along with Ernest Dawson, who had worked for Isaac Spencer & Co. in Aberdeen who produced fish oil, they set up British Cod Liver Oil Producers. (Hull) Ltd. Initialy the company took over the oil facility of the Hull Fish Meal Co. on the south side of St. Andrew's Dock. There was always a plan to build a new factory, and originally this was to be just west of the north end of where the Humber Bridge is now. However it was finally built at Marfleet, hygiene and cleanliness was the by-word, and opened in 1935.

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The factory at Marfleet in it's final guise. 

'Solvitax' was the first trademark used, and it is still in use today for veterinary products. In 1936 Earnest Dawson returned home and Kenneth MacLennan joined the company from Lever Brothers where he had been working of vitamin technology. He also set the company down the advertising road by pushing to build a decorated float for the Lord Mayor of Hull's parade. The idea of a cod on a lorry playing 'A Life on the Ocean Wave' became a well known sight all over the country, and abroad.

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Advertising float for Seven Seas. It became known as 'King Cod'

At this time their main market was still non medical. It was Maclannan's plan to move into the higher quality field. It was he who came up with the brand name 'Seven Seas', and it was also his idea to put cod liver oil in capsules to make the oil easier to consume. The great expansion could have been halted by the coming of WWII as trawling was severely curtailed due to enemy action and the taking up of the trawlers by the Royal Navy. However the company were able to import oil from Iceland, and the Ministry of Food gave free cod liver oil to all children under 5 and pregnant and nursing mothers as a supplement to the rations. There were 400 hundred ladies involved in the bottling line. The bottles were returned from clinics and cleaned in Marfleet. Both of these ensured a good supply and market after the war was won, and the plant expanded by over 50% in 1948.

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Cod Liver Oil being given to orphans of WWII. In fact the subsidy for cod liver oil did not cease in the UK until 1971 as the Government realised that the generation that the children of the war were the healthiest ever in the UK.

After the war the company's range extended further. As wealth increased around the world meat production increased and fish oil was added more to animal feed to cope. The company also started to hydrogenate the oil for use in margarine and normal fish oil was used for 50% of margarine. They also became involved in refining vegetable oils too, and soon realised that being known as the British Cod Liver Oil Co was a bit of a hindrance and the name was changed to the Marfleet Refining Company in 1955. The British Cod Liver Oil Co continued to be used for the supply of cod liver oils however.

The company invested in research and sort to itemise the beneficial components of fish oil in order to market them separately as well as combined. The factory was producing 50 to 60 tons of oil a day. By 1965 they were processing about 100 million livers each year and sold their products in around 100 countries. Research started to show that fish oils assisted in lowering cholesterol, and also supplied 'brain' lipids and they started to separate these out and market them as well as Vitamins A and D. However they could not prove that cod  liver oil was a medicine. This led them to start marketing into the health products business.

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Time has moved on from rotting livers in a barrel and skimming the oil off the top!

In 1974 Imperial Foods bought the company and it changed from a cooperative company to 'big business'. However this did supply the capital to take advantage of the trend of health supplements etc and in 1982 the name Seven Seas was used to start the Seven Seas Health Care Ltd. supplying such products as vitamins, garlic oil, ginseng, wheatgerm and lecithin. Cod liver oil was still doing well in less developed markets. In 1996 Seven Seas was bought from Imperial by the German pharmaceutical and chemical company Merck. They were able to take advantage of further research into Omega 3 and fatty acids for health benefits and  now supply a range of products from mineral supplements to joint care and everything in between.

The factory on Hedon Road closed in August 2015, and the remaining Sales and Marketing office was moved to Merck's head office in London. This was almost the last industry that could be connected with the once great deep sea fishing from Hull. On the other hand it could be said that every time the names Seven Seas is seen on the shelves it is a reminder of Hull and the company's roots.