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SUTTON AND WAWNE

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SUTTON AREA
as it is today, with a slight emphasis,
on it's recent history for those who
would like to know something of
the land their relatives came from.

FOR GENERAL FAMILY HISTORY ENQUIRIES,
ARCHIVES AT SUTTON
CONTACTS, ETC

Back to the
Sutton & Wawne Home Page

click the underlined links . .

an article about
Spurn Head,
written in 1981 by Leslie Thomas,
is reproduced in full halfway down this page.

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SUTTON on HULL . . a short description

(It's hard to credit, but I wrote this description of this area PRIOR to June of 2007, which as residents know and remember too well, was the month we all had to find our wellies and got rather damp.)

INTRODUCTION

I'll start this description by making reference to another website that you'll certainly want to visit if you're already prepared to read this. It's mentioned elsewhere on this website, but still bears repeating here.

SUTTON-ON-HULL . . is the village entry in the GENUKI pages (GEN ealogy UK & I reland) .. with further links to Trade Directories for 1823 and 1892, showing names of most local trading and farming families, shop owners, village craftsmen, etc, plus county Wapentake boundaries, and several other links besides. Invaluable if you want to know this area's history better.

There also used to be a phenomenal site tracing the course and history of the River Hull . . now no longer, and I mourn its passing.  It was in fact a photo journey along the same. Designed and posted by canal enthusiasts of the Driffield Navigation Amenities Association, it included a virtual cruise up the Hull from the Humber to Driffield .. and images of every River Hull bridge as of the year 2000 ! Along with many archive photos, including the ferries at Stoneferry and Wawne ... you can see why it was such a loss for it to disappear.  I know not why, nor where ... but, if this is some compensation, the Driffield Navigation does now have its own website, from within which there is a YouTube link to a ride on parts of the river. And lots of lovely general photo shots. It seems that some features of the old website are coming back.

This river, and crossings, have always played an important part in Sutton's story. It may be safe to say that the river, and its floodings, actually 'made' Sutton. Now there's a subject for discussion in the pub. If anyone abroad, who has family from the Hull area and who wants an insight into what this area used to be like in Victorian times, there are several other sites now, photographic sites like Flickr and GeographUK, on http://www.geograph.org.uk/ .. to name but two, which will help enormously, short of actually coming here. I would suggest such sites be used in conjunction with aerial photos on Bing Maps. Don't forget that, when you view photos showing today's well-banked sides to the River Hull, they weren't like that in ancient times. The river bank was at the same level as the fields, so the river used to spill over into those fields. It 'burst its banks' with monotonous regularity in winter storms and at very high tides. Note the height of the fall of the tide today, evidenced by a green algae tide mark along the wharves and jetties.

This view of Sutton is necessarily a personal one, how I found the village and my impression of the changes in the area since coming to live in Hull in 1973. I'm an outsider, and don't perhaps view the place as do Sutton folk themselves. Many will not agree with my assessment, but the fact that I wrote this and want to help 'Sutton descendants' get a feel for their heritage must say something about how fond I am of the place. In the course of my description, if I offend anyone, none is intended.

The first thing that must be said is that, in this fast-changing world, it is a rare treat to find anywhere that still bears some resemblance to how it was in the past. That depends on how we view that past .. with the rose-tinted spectacles of The Good Old Days, or with the reality specs of days of yore that most folks round here were glad to see the back of. Poverty, deprivation, dilapidation, run-down homes, tragedy on a vast scale, all these and more stalked all our towns and cities. Sutton and Hull had more than their fair share of all that, and there's no hiding the fact that the whole greater Hull area still has all those less palatable sides to modern life to greater and lesser degrees. If the 19th century philanthropist families of Reckitt, Ferens and Needler could come back today, they would be horrified at what they could see today and maybe wrily comment at how much still needs to be done ... and perhaps at how much many local folk have failed themselves in the great fight to improve education and health. A good deal of what these Victorian philanthropist families started has since become largely 'undone'.

But there was, and still is, much of beauty and historic interest still to see. We should just briefly remember that some of that beauty was paid for at a price, a heavy price. At the price, foremostly, of the lives, living and working conditions of those antecedants you are most interested in. Whether they were local farmers scratching a scanty living from the land, or went away and took part in Hull's whaling and deep-sea fishing, or worked in local industry or on Hull's docks, whatever they did, it was a harder life then than it is now, by a long, long chalk. Many died in the course of their work, in conditions and doing jobs that would not be tolerated now. Many more didn't live long enough to enjoy the so-called 'fruits' of retirement, and for those that did, it was penury. That was how life was then. Unless you 'had money', of course.

And the second price is also well-known .. the countless men and women that were killed and injured in defending this land they called Home, whatever the enemy, whatever the cause. However bad the conditions at home, whether in the Civil War of the 1600's, or the World Wars of the 20th century, I've no doubt that most felt it was a heritage and a home worth defending against all dangers and all comers.

If Sutton is pleasant to live in now, it might not necessarily have been like this for everyone. So, there are no rose-tinted spectacles here. It's difficult to be rose-tinted when standing in front of that war memorial, musing over the some 180 names of Sutton and Stoneferry men who didn't come home to the land and families they went away to defend.


THE GENERAL HULL AREA in 1973

My very first impression on coming here in the early 70's was of a land where time had stood still ... not just Sutton, I might add, but Hull generally. I came here from a midlands city where so-called progress meant unbelievable traffic and the jams that went with it. Take it from me, I knew what a traffic jam was, and Hull by and large didn't have them. I define a jam as where you sit in your bus for upwards of 15 minutes and not move at all. Midlands cities, even then, had urban sprawl seemingly out of control and the pace of life was getting faster by the minute - apart from peak-hour traffic!. Hull had slow traffic, yes, at times very slow traffic, but not nightly total jams. In contrast, Hull seemed to be some 20 years behind ... people were, and still are, easier going. Life was more relaxed, and yet it was obvious the more I looked around that this city and area had known hard times in the extreme ... and recently.

My first 20 years in Hull were spent as a bus driver, first on EYMS, latterly on the City Transport, but in between I also worked for the Social Services, so over a period of some two decades, I got to know Hull better than my home town. East Hull especially, and the Sutton and Bransholme areas, became like the back of the proverbial hand. The Social Services driving work meant that, for two years, I drove up and down just about every Garth, Drive, Avenue, Way and Close in the locality. I saw how it was then, 30 years ago, can see how it is now, and can track some of the changes in between. And I've sat in endless busmen's canteens and heard incredible stories from, and about, the folk that lived around here. Some humorous ... but mostly tragic and very thought-provoking.

I have a little list of the first things that struck me when I came here. They struck me because, where I used to live, such sights or impressions would have been either long since in the past, or be highly unusual. Some of those 'things' are with us no more, and in many respects, Hull has become much like any other English city, with the same architecture springing up on industrial estates, housing estates, and the same shop fronts in the city centre. Woolly's or M&S were much the same anywhere then, just as Argos, HMV or TK-Max are now.

The first thing was bikes ... bicycles. I had never seen so many. Mostly on account of Hull being so flat, the area was ideal for biking. Only Sutton, on rising ground to the north, and Willerby rising a bit further to the west, had anything that could be reasonably described as a slope ... notwithstanding North and Drypool bridges of course. Bikes were everywhere, and as a bus driver, there was " .. allus one in front when pulling in to a bus stop !" Car ownership was extrememely low, and there was then still a lot of concentrated industry around Hedon Road for the big docks, and Hessle Road for the fish docks, and all the trades associated with them. Bikes were out in their hundreds, and buses had duplicates! Full-standing loads to and from Hessle and Hedon Roads, at the appropriate peak times, were commonplace. Even lunchtimes could be frantic, if you witnessed Reckitt's knocking off at 12 o'clock. I lived just up the road, and did. That came as a shock too, I can tell you.

Trees ! There were, quite simply, an unexpected number of trees. Tree-lined avenues abounded. There were hundreds of trees along all the main arterial roads from the city centre, so it was quite obvious that someone in the fairly recent past had taken great pride in Hull, and its trees, and its parks. Hull was a tree city. Firstly, in the late 70's and into the 80's, dutch-elm disease took it's toll, then later, various road and house-building projects took out others. There's nothing like so many now, and Hull is nothing like as green or shady as it once was on the outskirts. The new estate of Bransholme was just being built, Dorchester Road was quite new, as was Noddle Hill Way, and there were newly-planted sapling trees everywhere ... Bransholme should have been a green and shady place in the heat of summer by now, not the arid-desert-on-the-hill it has become. There were huge, green open spaces, full of sapling and young trees. If there are not the trees there now, it's not because of disease, or lack of planting or municipal foresight. It's because children (youths) would not let them grow. It was a common sight by 1980 to see a 5-year old sapling tree bent right over and snapped off at chest height. Kids pulled them out by their hundreds. Those kids will be in their 30's and 40's now ... I wonder if they ever miss the colour and shade the trees they killed would have given them now. I wonder if their kids know what they did ...

Traffic lights . . or lack of them. There were no traffic lights in the city centre. All main junctions were controlled by a policeman or traffic warden on "point duty". And they packed up after tea. A large portable wooden dias, some with a cover on to give shade or shelter from the worst of the weather, would be seen right in the middle of all Hull's city centre junctions, including the one at Cleveland Street - Witham - North Bridge during "peak hours". Evening peak hour in Hull then meant about 4.30pm to just a little after 6pm . . not the extended 'all-day peak' we sometimes have now. Leaving the city, the first traffic lights up Holderness Road were at Southcoates Lane, then those at Ings Road, and that was it. The junction at Holderness Rd - Wilton St was only given it's traffic lights shortly after we came here, essentially to help city-bound buses exiting Dansom Lane.

A similar situation prevailed along the other main roads . . Sculcoates Lane lights were the first on Beverley Road, then Clough Road, then Sutton Road, and so on. It was unusual because in most other cities, traffic lights were everywhere by the 60's, and pelican crossings becoming as numerous. Here, both were noticeable by their absence, a situation soon redressed within about 10 years. There was a surfeit of zebra crossings in Hull though, nearly all now replaced by pelicans. So, first impressions were of lots of cyclists and zebras, and trees. But, luckily for me, by 1973, most of the old level-crossings of the old railway days had gone. Both Hessle Road, and later Anlaby Road, had just got their flyovers, so not for me the long wait behind a queue of 300 bikes at Anlaby Road crossing gates !

Finally, the whole area had a rural ambience. I always described Hull to my Midlands relatives as, not so much a city, more an overgrown market town that happened to have some commercial docks and a large fishery. That was how Hull appeared to me in 1973. It was nothing unusual to be in a queue of traffic coming down Holderness Road and be held up by a farm tractor pulling a trailer of bales of straw. Indeed, the same can be seen today on occasion. The countryside is only a few hundred yards away in all directions, most main roads still have a good many trees if not as many as hitherto, and if the smells eminating on a south-westerly wind from the fish dock are no more, they have been replaced by the more rural scent of farmers muck-spreading, over the Humber, only a mile further away over the fields of northern Lincolnshire.  At times, the city centre smells more like a pig farm than a fishing port.  Though I have to admit, when the aroma of fish did permeate, it didn't half whiff.  And that's not saying the other half of it.


AND SO TO SUTTON in 1973

If Hull impressed me, as a place then unspoilt by the rat-race I had left behind, then Sutton charmed me. As did, to a certain extent Cottingham, and Hedon, and Hessle. But Sutton impressed me the most. I suppose I'm a sucker for that idealised village that stands a little higher than the surrounding countryside, church tower proudly thrusting above everything else, where there's a real sense of community. Sutton was and is such a place. And now, of course, it is a village within a city, totally enclosed today by the ever-encroaching boundaries of that city. It was within the city's boundaries in 1973, but only just. There was nothing beyond it. The fields at the back of the school and church fell away to the marshy stretches of the Holderness Plain. Now there are just the ubiquitous red-tiled roofs of yet another housing development stretching out over that once marshy plain. Sutton was on the edge.

What I didn't realise then, and have only had brought home to me this last few years or so, was the close association between the Sutton Village that stood proud of the wet flood plain surrounding it, and the nearby river Hull that does give it its name after all, as well as the nearby settlements of Stoneferry and Summergangs and Southcoates. Sutton seems small now because of the surrounding housing estates, even smaller since the Robson Way 'by-pass' was built.

For many local Hull folk never have to go through Sutton village itself at all now. And many people in West Hull, the other side of the river, from the Anlaby and Willerby Roads, are just as much in the dark about Sutton as they always were, just as many East Hull folk are about western areas of Hull. It's still a city of two halves, and not just delineated by followers of the rival Rugby Football teams. There is a distinct difference between both sides of the city, almost indiscernable to strangers, but there for those with eyes to see. I roamed about on all routes all over the city and outlying villages, and picked up on these differences very early. They're more blurred now, more folk have moved around, the biggest difference being the number of ex-Hessle Road folk that were moved up to Orchard Park and Bransholme.

It's not until one delves a little deeper into the recent history of this area that one becomes aware of just how wet it once was. And may be so again if certain doom & gloom weather pundits and predictions turn out to be even half correct. Because the area is now so 'dry' .. decent roads, nice houses and gardens, large industrial estates springing up seemingly everywhere, it is hard to grasp how wet was the land we now stand on. And therein lies the secret of Sutton's creation, prosperity such as it once enjoyed, and the way it is now. It's all down to topography - the lie of the land.

When it's realised that Sutton lies along a low-lying north-west to south-east ridge, with an enthusiastically tidal river less than a mile away to the west, a coastal flood plain to the north and east, and a major river estuary only 3 miles to the south, the wonder is that it survived at all. It's only in this last 100 years that river flooding has been so controlled that the land has largely dried out around the base of that ridge, and only in the last 40-50 years that the drying out has enabled a huge amount of house building to proceed on land that was sopping wet before the First World War. I find it significant that when Sir James Reckitt commenced his famous Garden Village in 1908, it didn't extend any further to the west towards the river than the current line of the avenue that bears his name. Not only was that land mostly taken up, or about to be taken up, by more or extended riverbank industries, dyeworks, tanneries, chemical plants, and the like, it was then too darned wet ! There was a major drain running right through it - now filled in and almost forgotten about - that drained land right out into the wilds of Holderness. It was another 20 years or so before the land was deemed fit for 'modern' housing, unlike the older terraces closer to the old ferry crossing at Stoneferry that must have been very damp at times to say the least.

The first place I lived, on coming to Hull, was with a relative on Sutton Park, then itself new and almost treeless, and in the shadow of the high floodbank that keeps the river from doing its centuries-old duty of fertilising the land. For these really were the water meadows, the flood plain, that used to be inundated every winter. I looked askance at all the houses from the top deck of a bus along Littondale and the close proximity of that river, and its high banks that seemed to fill to the brim every 12 hours, behind us. The amount of rise and fall, and power, of those tidal flows, had only to be seen in the space of 6 hours at North Bridge for anyone to understand that a great deal of faith had been put in those floodbanks at Sutton Park - and also of course, for the housing developments that line the other side of the river, whose access is from Beverley Road. It can surely be no accident that, historically, the main road out of the city to the north to Beverley avoided crossing that river and kept well to the west of it. Ancient folk knew the score, because it was too wet to the east by far for any decent road to anywhere - for most of the year that is.

The only really dry land for miles around was Sutton, and the 'ridgeway' that led from the village up to the highest ground at what we now call North Bransholme, before it dips down into Wawne, itself very low-lying and too close to that snaking river for any real comfort in historical times. So I could scarce believe my eyes when house-building started on the WEST side of Ennerdale, their gardens almost backing up to the riverbank itself, and now only separated from it by a new relief road that takes the Ring Road traffic to Beverley over the new twin bridges at Kingswood.

For the most part, because of those high floodbanks, the river is invisible even from the top deck of a bus, except when crossing a major bridge, or to those who use the river bank to walk their dogs. And I think that is perhaps why newer folk to Hull almost forget it's there. Some may not even know of its existence or former importance. But older Hull folk remember, and anyone who ever lived around Stoneferry and Sutton Ings on the various farms and small-holdings up to the 1950's will never forget. Their children went ice-skating between the rows of 'prefabs' down Sutton Road near to where Ennerdale Sports Centre is now. They knew the pea-souper fogs and knee high waters that effectively cut that road as a link from Beverley Road to Sutton village and East Hull. I've spoken with men who remember families in basement slums in Witham between the wars, flooded out of their damp basements every spring tide, when the waters came over at North Bridge and poured down the road. A lot of that life-style, if it can be called that, had only just dissappeared when I came to live here.

All the old names that denote local places and features around the base of Sutton's ridge give the game away to those interested in language and history. Sutton itself is a derivation of "Sudtone", the Anglo-Saxon name, Germanic wordage for South Village or Settlement. Indeed it was, about as far South along that lowering ridge as it was deemed practicable to live safely all the year round and keep dry feet. Between the village and the river is Sutton Ings - 'ings' being a norse word meaning marshy ground, albeit grasslands in marshy ground. Fit only for grazing cattle, and only in summer. An old road leading south from the Ings was West Carr Lane - carr being another old Norse word, from kjarr - meaning boggy and often waterlogged. It was deemed only fit for summer sheep pasture. Holme, as in Bransholme, is merely an island surrounded by carrs, or ings, or wetlands. Indeed, Sutton itself could easily have been named Suttonholme, for it means pretty much the same thing. Or Holme in Sutton Ings, the same way as we have Holme in Spalding Moor not far from Market Weighton.

Other local names, lanes, old farms, houses, tend also towards a watery description; witness Lambwath Road - the site of the lamb ford in the Lambwath Stream once nearby. Here, farmers waded across with their flocks. It's a pleasant road of suburban semis now. Then there's Leads Road, that leads up the hill to Sutton itself, but nothing to do with leading anywhere. The road originally ran alongside an artificial drain or watercourse - a lead. Nearby Gillshill Road seems to have a watery connotation - isn't a gill a spring or rivulet? Another example, and a good one, has to be Froghall Lane.
John Markham's "Streets of Hull" explains:
'Froghall was an unattractively named farmhouse in this area of waterlogged carr land. "Frog" can refer to sticky, muddy land as well as the animal : both meanings are related - and make sense.' And there you have it. Wet. Damp. Boggy. Muddy. Sticky. Except in summer, when it dried out a bit.

Another local area, between Sutton and Holderness Road, is Summergangs, now remembered in the Summergangs Road that runs through from James Reckitt Avenue. It was part of Sutton parish, though not of the village itself. Again, "Streets of Hull" gives the definition as:
Built in 1909 . . An early example of an old field name being revived for a 20th-century road. The "Summergangs" were pastures which were always damp and subject to flooding, where the cattle could only go (gang) in summer.

Finally, for the epitome of wet names, there's Stoneferry, a 14th century name. Literally, the place of the ferry by the stones, or a stone-paved ford, later replaced by a ferry. Again, Markham and his "Streets of Hull";
A rural hamlet which grew up nearby (the ferry) was eventually destroyed by industrialisation. In 1896, Thomas Blashill remembered .. "Sixty years ago, Stoneferry still retained its old world air and much of the quietude of a Sunday afternoon. There was amongst the Stoneferry folk something like a family relationship evidenced at times of real sorrow and rejoicing. At a wedding, the whole hamlet had outdoor sports and indoor feasting.
Markham goes on to comment that Blashill also recalls that "the road leading from this rather secluded community to Hull was, at times, almost impassably muddy."

I'll say it was. Stoneferry was indeed very wet. Only in this last 40 years has dried out enough to get modern roads, and by that I mean 'dry roads', a new double-lifting bridge to replace the old and narrow swing bridge that replaced the ferry, and industrial estates, petrol stations, etc. And very busy roads. I drive up and down them now about 6 times a day! When I first moved here, the joke was that Stoneferry flooded so often, and was so wet, that folk that lived hereabouts had webbed feet! I can believe it. Dairy farming on this land must have been a nightmare. And when we get fog, we get fog - soup !!

Now, I could take a stranger from the lower end of James Reckitt Avenue, up the avenue towards Sutton and onto Sutton Road, then across and up Holwell Road onto Bransholme, and he would never guess that the area was once so wet. I can hardly believe it myself at times, and the wonder of it is that most of the draining, road improvements, new building, has all been done since the 1950's. During the war, the area was deemed so remote, so inaccessible, that just up Frog Hall Lane from Sutton Road was the Hull Isolation Hospital, locally known as the Fever Hospital, being nothing more than a motley collection of prefabs and wartime nissan huts for those unfortunate enough to be stricken with TB or polio. All around were rough grasslands, perhaps less prone to flooding than they once were, but still very damp in winter. A great place to recover from TB, I would not have thought.

As with any wet areas - ask the folks of Norfolk and the Fens - it must have been cold in winter, really cold, a damp cold that locks the bones, and a cruel place for rheumatics. Hard folks, they must have been, that lived around here. And they may have to be so once more, if the weather reports are right. The word is going around that this area may be subject to flooding once again. The area around the base of Sutton's ridge itself hasn't flooded in 60 years to my knowledge, so what the future holds is anyone's guess. It may soon be time to go and find me' wellies!!

My general impression is that, even in places a little drier, like Summergangs, the grassy meadows around Sutton's ridge sat on a spongy top soil, or even peat, that itself floated on a very high water table. I suppose the nearest comparison for likeness is that this area, before it was drained and industrialised, would have been the north-east of England's equivalence to the Somerset Levels in the south west - always marshy, often wet, frequently under water - and salt water at that. A large area of Somerset is still the same, now recognised as an area of scientific importance where the ancient use of many dykes, ditches, tidal sluices, help to maintain a water level at just the optimum for a balance between farming, nature conservation and historical accuracy. So not just around Sutton, but large areas of Holderness would have been similar, with small hillocks or imperceptably raised areas of reasonably dry ground would always find some habitable use by poor folk scratching a living from the wetlands around, where the easiest form of travel would be a boat of some sort, or scull, or skiff. And a 'meat diet' meant duck every night !


AND SO TO SUTTON TODAY

So that gives a sort of summary of the topography local to Sutton, it's 700-year-old brick built church atop a south-facing slope, not high enough to be called a hill but more of a 'rise', an old village that still retains it's old charm of narrow and slightly twisting streets, locally made red pantile roofs, and luckily with enough large trees and greenery to be shady in the heat of summer. Along with the several old timbered and half-timbered cottages that have survived long enough to be the desirable and expenive modernised dwellings of today, there are still several of the 'big houses', Georgian to Edwardian stock, to remind us of an age when the well-to-do of Hull, the shipowners, stockbrokers and monied folk built their houses away from the smog and smoke and could take the train in and out of the industrialised seaport every day. Some are now residential homes for the elderly, others fulfilling other new roles as flats. Few are still in private 'family' hands.

But the church of St James the Greater is Sutton's real glory, full of ancient mystery and wonder, early English architecture, the most ancient-of-ancient fonts, and more besides, as well as an almost still-complete churchyard. I say almost, as there have been the inevitable losses or damage to stones and monuments due to isolated acts of vandalism. Some have been removed for safety, others just broke, or fell in various storms. But to all intents and purposes, it is a complete and well-kept, leafy churchyard with many mature trees and a small nature reserve in its own right, if surrounded by urban hub-bub. In addition, and fortunate for Sutton folk and their descendants interested in genealogy, some thoughtful soul/s took steps a while back to make a record of all the stones then still left standing, and this excellent record of Sutton's Monumental Inscriptions are now in the care of Merrill Rhodes along with the rest of Merrill's wonderful exhibition of the history of the village, and all available to view on Friday afternoons in the exhibition in the museum inside the Old School. Hopefully, one day, if someone can be coaxed, conscripted or cajoled into typing it all out onto a word-processor, it may appear on this website. (That digitisation of the MI book has indeed been done, but can only be accessed inside the Museum). Since 2010, there has been a numbered list of graves within the churchyard on this website, along with the photo reference of each grave photo that can be ordered via email.

For it is the 'Old School', almost next door to the church and churchyard, closed over 40 years ago, that is now the local Folk Museum and Family History Centre. Local children now attend new(er) schools on nearby Bransholme. It's true that Bransholme does cast a shadow over the old village, but no more so than any other English council estate on the outer edge of a city and in close proximity to ancient buildings and communities. And only then because of the higher crime levels and general deprivation in the wider area of the estate itself.

The railway that once linked the village in bad winters to Hull, and good summers to Hornsea, has long since gone, the old trackway now a bridleway and cycle path. Indeed, the whole length of the old track to Hornsea can now be walked or ridden as part of the Trans-Pennine Trail.  Part of the old station and sidings have given way to a children's playground and small park, encircled by Robson Way, effectively the village by-pass.

Also gone in recent times are the many hundreds of 'prefabs' that once lined nearly the whole length of Sutton Road, from the river bridge to Leads Road, all along the southern half of Frog Hall Lane, and a good bit down West Carr Lane. Also gone are all the tall and stately 'Jersey Elms' that once lined both sides of Sutton Road, all victim to dutch elm disease in the 1980's. In fact, prefabs sprang up all over the city, thousands of them. I can just recall some of them still being there in 1973 and through to the 80's. No doubt many current residents on Bransholme had their first home in those prefabs. In it's time, the time of the post-war housing shortage that coincided with a baby-boom, the Sutton Fields prefabs formed a mini community all of its own, with its own school, chapel, etc. These were desperate times, thousands of Hull houses had been damaged or totally destroyed, land was in desperately short supply, so the detached and cosy prefabs were built on newly drained land. The river floodbank was deemed good enough. Even so, there was occasional minor flooding. I'll bet the gardens were good, though. A couple of years of turning the ground for spuds should have produced a reasonable, tilthy loam, albeit one that would revert to clay given the chance of a good soaking. One thing that has survived into the 21st century are the allotments at the base of the railway bridge on Sutton Road, on the corner of Leads Road. Judging by the height and colour of the runner beans I see when driving by in mid-summer, they can't say there's much wrong with that soil.

All in all, it's still a very pleasant place to live, if a trifle busy now with modern traffic, generally well served with buses and local shops, two pubs and a post office, plus some of the other deemed neccessary modern amenities. Traffic hold-ups are frequently seen, especially right outside St James' church on summer Saturdays when a wedding is in progress, as wedding cars, guests cars, other shopping traffic and a couple of double decker buses all vie for position to get through the narrowest part of Church Street all at once. Even so, given the chance, most other Hull folk would jump at the opportunity of moving to this slightly higher ground and part-taking in the still-prevailing air of affluence and gentle nobility the village still retains. It still seems a little remote from the rat-race of modern life, a world apart, still detatched from Hull and yet a part of it, and altogether a more leisurely place to take a Sunday afternoon walk. And such a walk is recommended - full of interest and history at almost every turn.

And it's worth recording that Sutton also hosts a Civic Society, dedicated to both the preservation of its heritage and the education of local folk that they have a heritage worth preserving. An uphill task most of the time. I'm an outsider and can see it's a richness well worth preserving - but sometimes, folk can be a little too close to the wood to see the trees. Luckily Sutton still has plenty of trees, and presents a green prospect from a distance, unlike the surrounding area almost denuded of them. But don't get me going on that subject again. By and large, trees perform a far better service to this planet than humans do, and are perhaps more worthy of their place upon it. I would make the killing of a tree a capital offence and punish it accordingly!

Amen.



As explained at the head of this page, all that was written prior to 2007. I had no idea back then of the impending weather events that would give most of us wet feet for a week or so during that very wet summer. Even Garden Village was under water, and that hadn't flooded since before Reckitt's started building the village in 1908, which in effect means it was drained, dry, since Victorian times at least.

But .. here's the rub. It wasn't the River Hull that flooded us! It came close, but not quite. It was simply a massive amount of rain, coupled with poorly maintained drainage systems. Folk, and especially our municipal leaders, became complacent and touched by apathy. It could never happen here. Could it. Many here now have learnt the wisdom of the old moral the hard way, "Never say Never."








SPURN HEAD


At the risk of being accused of plagarism, or breaching copyright, I've put an article below that first appeared in a book called "Hidden Places of Britain," published back in 1981. Written by author, the late Leslie Thomas, the book explored several different places then considered well off the beaten track, and Mr Thomas had met the locals, heard the history, and noted the local fauna and wildlife of each.

And so he came to Spurn, and gave us this wonderful vignette of somewhere that is becoming more and more important to all our futures in this little corner of England, where Yorkshire comes to its pointed end. In the light of the recent big tide, and increasingly severe storms, his words seem almost prophetic now. When you've read his excellent article, I'm guessing you may feel rather different about, not just Spurn itself, but the Holderness peninsular, Hull as a major seaport, and the Humber estuary in general.

When he wrote this, buses could travel down the 3-miles of the spit to the cafe at the end, the dunes were high enough to get lost in, and the evidence of the military railway, lines and all, were very evident. That was only some 30 years ago. But, it's largely all gone now. As he says, an odd place indeed.

I have reproduced his words, paragraphing, etc, exactly. Now't added in, and now't taken out. I hope that if the author's descendants did happen to see this, they would take it as a complement to his writing and all-round perception of this beautiful place.




A Place Called Odd

by Leslie Thomas


Spurn Head is one of the oddest places in Britain. It waggles, like a reversed, beckoning finger, out into the whirling estuary where the wide-spread River Humber meets the North Sea. Every day, every hour almost, it moves a little, fidgets, just a few inches, until, at the end of a year, it had taken up a new place ; at the end of a decade, it is noticeably adrift, and every century, it has completely removed itself to another place. At uniform intervals of two hundred and fifty years, it has been washed away altogether, sent sprawling into the beds of the river and the sea, only to reform gamely in small islands which eventually become another Spurn Head. The present two-and-a-half centuries is almost up.

It is a place of sand and mist and ever-moving water, of gales and gulls, of rare grasses, flowers and brilliant butterflies. Once, during the First World War, soldiers manned a gun on its very tip. There was a comic little railway which connected them to civilisation three and a half miles away, and on the railway used to run a truck propelled by sail ! That is one of the happiest thoughts, images, I have discovered during my journey through Britain. I can just imagine these soldiers, jolly with beer, being blown along the helter-skelter of a track on wild nights, the sail bucking and cracking, the gunners hanging on. There was one sharp bend in the track where the sail had to be luffed. Many times the odd-wheeled ship (or full-masted train) was wrecked there.

Today, to follow the railway, is to realise how much the headland has moved since those days sixty-five years ago. What had been a straight run, apart from the single, epic, elbow bend, is now running in all directions except the original. In some places the track careers almost at right-angles to the sandy land, at others it burrows into dunes and marram grass at a sharp angle, and in some areas, it has tipped into the sea. Nothing remains the same on Spurn Head; not for long.

The misty and singular peninsular is, notwithstanding its isolation and frequent loneliness, within sight of the wharfs, the cranes and buildings of the fishing city of Hull. It lies to the east of the port, tacked on to the very conclusion of what is now called Humberside (note: written back in the early 70's), but to most is still doggedly the East Riding of Yorkshire. The folk who inhabit the villages in the flat, green mainland, the root of Spurn Head, even count themselves a people apart from the rest of Yorkshire. The Clublys, the Stothards, the Biglings, who form the stronghold within the poplulace, even now say they are "East Enders" and their dialect, when issuing forth into the bar of the White Horse at Easington, defies understanding even by those people who live within a few miles. It's that sort of place.

I drove south from Beverley, the old market, racing and churchy town, over the hamlets of the green plain to reach Spurn. It was a sharp and sunny day. There had been a dry spell in a rainy summer and the fields shone, the houses preened themselves like ducks, and the splendid inn signs of the North Country Brewery (the best I have ever seen) stood like a picture gallery along the way ; enough to catch the eye of the most arid tee-totaller.

Easington, Skeffling, Patrington, Welwick and Out Newton are settled, and have been for Yorkshire centuries, in that flat triangle of meadows and ditches between the North Sea and the maw of the Humber. Sunk Island is now inland, although they murmur that the steeple of a church can be seen offshore ; Kilnsea is the last hamlet before you take the tight road to the ever-moving sands of Spurn Head.

The villages were still half asleep for it was early and a Sunday. A bell from a church, sitting amid the meadows, nodded a reminder of the day, sheep gnawed, and a man on a horse with a small milk churn fixed to the saddle just like a drum, clopped along the lane. The sky was bright and wide and warm. Then I came to Spurn Head.

At once, the scene was changed. Now, it all became mystery. A glove of mist enclosed the hand that reached out to the sea. It lay, still, along the flat sands, and giving a line of war-time tank-traps the aspect of strange warriors marching from the water. A foghorn groaned and then I saw the form of a great vessel, a tanker no doubt, a creeping city out in the estuary.

My road diminished to a single track and the single track diminished into fog, but then a slice of sun slid through and touched the river and the sea, only a few yards on either side of me. Islands of vegetation moved slyly, scarves of mist advanced again, the horn hoo-hooted like a baritone owl. I was glad when the small, busy figure of a lady called Brenda Jackson materialised through the mist.

She was out in this place charged with looking after the birds, the plants and flowers for the Yorkshire Naturalists Trust, who now own the three and a half miles of Spurn. The regular warden was away, and she was thrilled to be there, alone in the little hut between the eroding sea and the eroding river. The winds and clouds were her company.

Next to her temporary home is a cobble hut which used to be the coastal bailiff's house. "He doesn't exist now," she explained. It was his job to take the dues from the people who came with carts, years ago, to shovel up the pebbles and sand from the seashore. They were used in building, and the takers paid by the load. Then somebody realised that the sea was taking away enough without people doing it too, so that was stopped." The Industrial Revolution had finished on Spurn Head.

"I haven't been here for some time," said Mrs Jackson. "And I'm amazed at the way the sea has taken so many great lumps from the land." We walked up the dunes, past the heligoland bird trap, a long construction like the ribs of an aeroplane, used to catch seabirds for ringing. On the backbone of the dunes, looking straight out to the misty sea, it was easy to see how the contour of the land had shifted even quite recently. Massive whorls like the bendings of an earthquake patterned the shore. A bird-watchers' hut had, prudently, been moved back in stages to safety so that it was now yards inland from its original place.

"I'm afraid I'm a botanist at heart," said Brenda Jackson, curiously a little fey about the confession. It was almost as though she feared I might laugh at her, or know more about it than she and begin to cross-examine her. Seeing I had no such knowledge nor designs, she quietly touched a plant near the bird trap. It was oddly exotic to be in such a northerly situation, almost a stray from the jungle, with a long, lush, pendant lolling from it. "The Duke of Argyll's Tea Plant", she announced as though making a formal introduction. "One of Spurn's own plants. A small mauve flower, delicate and dainty, and with cream stamens." She said it like a couplet.

Apparently encouraged, she led me on over the sands. "And this flower is the Scarlet Pimpernel, which is also called the Shepherd's Looking-Glass because it oddly opens when the weather is going to be bright." Her eyes were sharp with enthusiasm. The sun had come out of the mist. "And this is sea-sandwort," she said pointing again. "In the old days, it was a delicacy, used as a pickle. I think the recipe must have been lost. And there's the sea-holly which ladies love for flower-arranging, although it is quite rare in other places. In Elizabethan times, the roots were used for making children's sweets called eringoes."

She was in full flight now, darting over the dunes, finding rare and interesting flowers and plants at every step - the Pyramidal Orchid, the pink Storksbill, the Restharrow, a relative of the common or garden pea. It was difficult for me not to smile at her eagerness. At almost every yard, she found something worthwhile. What a wonderful thing, that, in this world, there are still people that can do that.

Spurn Head has forever been a place of lighthouses. As the sands have shifted, so have the lighthouses tumbled ; some are now below the sea. St Catherine's on the Isle of Wight was the first recorded lighthouse in Britain, and Spurn Head was the second. It was built, appropriately, by a hermit, lighthouses being places of singular solitude, after the sandspit known in fourteenth century maps as Ravenser Odd had been washed away in its due time and gradually been replaced by a reformed cape called Ravenser Spurne, later known simply as The Spor (from 'spur') and, by Mercater on his map of Britain in 1564 as Spun Head.

In an elegant petition to parliament in 1427, Richard Reedbarowe, "Heremyte at the Ravensersporne" pointed out the "many diverses straites and daungers bee in the entrying into the river of Humbre out of the see where off tymes by mysaventure many divers vesselx and men, godes and Marchandises be lost and perished, as well by Day as be Night, for defaute of a Bekyn".

Henry VI granted him his bekyn so having "compassion and pitee on the Cristen people that ofte tymes there perished".

The solicitous and solitary Richard Reedbarowe however, was not the first to live on the shifting sands of Spurn. His first-recorded predecessor was one Wilgils, a monk, who established a minor monastery, probably no more than a cell there, in about 670AD.

Three hundred years later when the spit had moved its customary mile westwards, Egil, the Icelander, was wrecked there, and the stragglers of the defeated Scandinavian army, routed by Harold at Stamford Bridge, embarked from the beaches of Spurn as the English king was hurrying south to his death in 1066.

By the late thirteenth century, Ravenser Odd (the Odd being a cape or headland) was a prospering port boasting a market, a fair, and from 1304 a Member of Parliament. But the sea and the river made their regular claim and forty years later the constituency and the town were two-thirds tumbled to the tides. By 1360, the gulls and the seals were playing among the ruins. Now the town of Ravenser Odd lies below the ships three-quarters of a mile offshore. There are no legends of people hearing church bells ringing as the tides change.

Henry Bolingbroke came ashore at Spurn in 1399 looking for and eventually gaining the throne of England. His welcoming was confined to one hermit. Edward IV, also heading for London and the crown, landed on the shingle in 1471.

In 1602, the sea and river were once again advancing on the headland and Parliament was told of the great 'Dekay of Ravenspounne'. Soon, all was awash, the tides and the shoals moved across the sands and man retreated to safer ground. It was said that a landowner on Spurn Head could always reclaim his property - if he could wait a century.

After that, the history of Spurn can be followed by the history of its lighthouses, so many of them lying now blind beneath the sea.

By the late seventeenth century Spurn was once more poking its vigorously growing nose out into the waves. A London man called Justinian Angell thought it might be a fine place for a lighthouse. He built one, but by the time it was complete, the land had altered again and sailors complained that it did more harm than good. So he built another light to rectify matters and Angell's High Light and Low Light adorned Spurn Head, but only for a while.

A table of the fortunes (or misfortunes) of the various cape lighthouses, compiled by the Hull historian G. de Boer for the East Yorkshire Local Historical Society, carries a sorry catalogue of phrases which tell all too well of the folly of building anything - even a lighthouse - on shifting sands. Tracing the lighthouses from 1674 to 1895, it has one column 'Date of Erection' and another ominously 'Date of Destruction'. The catalogue of catastrophes is recorded with such phrases as 'moved', 'surrounded by water', 'taken down', 'moved back', 'disused', 'lantern removed' and 'washed down'. Sometimes the lights failed through lack of coal to burn and ships were wrecked.

John Smeaton, that considerable engineer, built two lighthouses in the nineteenth century; one has now gone forever, leaving an almost prehistoric circle of lightkeeper's dwellings which can still be seen today, the other sits useless and decapitated on the beach half a mile from the present nose of Spurn … awaiting the inevitable.

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There is a house and watchtower that looks across the table of green meadows and marshlands and on to Spurn Head. It is just beyond the village of Easington on what might be called the mainland. In it lives John Redvers Powell Clubly and his wife. He was born in 1900 (Redvers after General Buller of the Boer War and Powell after Baden-Powell, hero of Mafeking). All his long life, he has known Spurn Head. "I always wanted this house," he explained. "Ever since I was a lad. I liked the watchtower. It used to belong to the coastguard, but now it's mine." Inside the front door is a passage lined and decorated with fragments of glass from Smeaton's High Lighthouse.

He is a very large, grey man. Once he must have been powerful. He was a champion darts player renowned throughout the North Country. "Years ago," he recalled slowly, "I used to shovel gravel on the Spurn, eight men shovelling it into a sailing barge. We reckoned to load a hundred tons in three hours and a half. Three pence for a hundred tons we got. In all weathers too."

We talked of the great storms that have charged in from the North Sea across the flat land. "In 1906 we had eleven feet of water in our house at Hedon," he remembered. "There was a horse and donkey swimming in our stable."

He has been a lifeboatman too and describes violent nights when he galloped the farm horses down to the Head to pull the lifeboat out to sea. And a beachcomber. "You'd never believe the things I've found along that beach," he said. "During the war, I found a foot in a boot. I took it to one of the army people, an officer, and he said I'd best go and bury it, so I did. It's a very funny sensation burying just a foot in a boot. Another time, I found a dead man in one of the creeks. Full of shrimps he was. I've never touched another shrimp since."

His wife went from the room and returned with Redvers Clubly's most prized beachcombing treasure - a prehistoric mammoth's tooth, the size of a large tomcat. "Just found that one morning, dug it up," he said. "Amazing what you can find in these parts. I sent it to a museum, but they said they'd got enough of them."

John Redvers Clubly does not use his first Christian name because Redvers is more notable, and there's another John Clubly in the village, his senior by one year. I found him among the cabbages of his cottage garden, a twinkling little man whose parents were both Clublys. "There's a lot of us in these parts," he said. He remembers well the gun on Spurn Head and the little railway wagon, propelled by a sail which used to trundle the three miles to Kilnsea, the first 'mainland' village.

"Once," he remembers with a dry, old chuckle, "they moved one of the big guns from Spurn Head and they brought it back on the railway. Right in the Narrows the train broke down and there was the sea and the Humber washing all around their gun. That was a laugh."

At Christmas, the young lads and girls from the flat land villages would walk out to Spurn Head singing carols to the coastguards and their families and the lighthousemen. Old John became pensive. "That was wonderful," he said very quietly. "The wind off the sea, and cold, and sometimes a moon, and us singing carols and walking all the way home, lads and lasses holding hands."

After the First War, while the railway was still running straight, before Spurn fidgetted again, the little engine and its trucks used to run to and fro. "Edwin Hodgson was the driver of the engine and a man called Hammond was the engineer. I remember them even now. The engine squeaking and rattling along the lines and the little truck - the Drury Car we called it - bouncing and swinging behind them. We used to go down to Spurn for fun, like an outing, the girls all in the Drury Car and the boys hanging on to the outside."

John Clubly's uncle, who was Tom Wilson, helped to build the lighthouse which (for the present anyway) blinks from Spurn Head. His father used to carry the paraffin from Kilnsea for use on the light. "He used to take it by horse and cart across Hummabank," he said. It meant Humber Bank. "When he got over there he used to have a few drinks with his friends and many's the time I've seen the horse and cart coming back across the Wormsand, you'd think without my old dad. But there he'd be, drunk and sleeping in the bottom of the cart."

Years ago, distressed ships off Spurn Head brought the sound of a warning gun, and the heavy horses from the inland farms would be taken galloping down the narrow road to haul the lifeboat into the sea. Today, the path they took, like the meandering railway, wanders in a strange fashion, sometimes heading straight into the sea, having to be built up and added to and straightened after almost every stormy winter. But it is a road worth walking. It goes by an almost primeval landscape of moulded rocks and whorls of boulder clay, some of which were washed down here in the most ancient times from the Pennines and from Scotland and Scandinavia. There are sudden bays, so small as to be secret, with a surprising copse here and there, thick stunted trees full of sounding insects, brilliant butterflies and hiding birds. In the course of one day a hawkbilled moth and a snow-bunting in its summer plumage were witnessed. A rare feast.

Out to sea, and at any point the ocean and the river are never more than a few yards to the left or right; old groynes and sea defences, breached and defeated by Nature, stand up from the waves like toothless wrecks. Redvers Clubly told me they don't make the barricades the proper way now because they build them of concrete. The wood of the old days bent and 'gave' to the sea.

The Narrows at Spurn Head is well named, the sea and river being only fifty yards apart and forever trying to reach each other like lovers kept distant. One day, they will succeed. There is also a skulking shoal called Old Den which was once, in the olden times, an island upon which there were buildings. No more. The fish now swim in and out of the doors.

Spurn Head owes whatever semi-permanence it has to the grasses and the reeds which, miraculously seem to root and flourish in the most dry and desperate soil. In 1849 Parliament paid for loads of chalk to be transported to the odd headland to stabilise it; ships entering and leaving the Humber were finding it shifted faster than the revisions which reached the navigation charts. A captain, meticulously going by the book, might find himself staring into a coastguard's window. The chalk bank gave some substance and held the Humber at arm's length. It can still clearly be seen today, its whiteness forming the base of the seashore rockery, with rare plants, flowers, and grasses sprouting prettily from its niches.

The present Head of Spurn is a blunt, flotsam-strewn beach, beyond the new, sturdy coastguard station, the lighthouse and the jetty used by pilots going out to ships waiting in the Humber. Some of the coastguard children who live down there were playing in the sand in the growing sunshine as generations have before them.

It must always have been a wonderful place for childhood; the treasure hunts among the litter that the sea brings up almost daily, the racing and games in the wavy dunes; the secret bathing bays and paddling beaches; school within sight of the ships; storms heard from a warm bed; the birds and wild animals. Grey seals and the 'little whales', the porpoises, appear in the frothy waters where the Humber meets the sea; the porpoises in their travelling circuses, plunging and curling through the waves, the seals lying indolently on sandbanks basking a while before lolling into the water again. The stoat and weasel go about their sly business among the dunes and grasses; Spurn has its own peculiar race of mice, rabbits can be seen sitting on the beach like elderly holiday-makers, fur-coated against the wind, and foxes sit down to a supper of fish. Brenda Jackson spent a glad, late hour of the evening before my arrival watching a vixen and her cubs, out for a dusk walk, pausing to make a meal of a dead gull. The little terns nesting on the headland, jealously observed by the conservationists, have been haunted by accidents. One year, the foxes made a feast of the young birds; the next a helicopter landed squarely among the nests, blowing them away with its rotors; then the sea roared in during the third nesting season and ended the domesticity of the small sea swallows.

There is a wreck on the beach facing the North Sea, a trawler doomed one night long ago. Parts of the hull lie slotted in the sand, every year diminished by salt and tide and silt. Many others lie offshore, together with the lighthouses of former days and that vanished part of Ravenser Odd. The remnants of groynes long washed away stand out from the sea like ghostly arms calling for assistance. Driftwood comes ashore in fantasy shapes. The bar of the White Horse in Easington is decorated with a carnival of wood, all in the accidental shape of animals.

Spurn Head is something to almost everyone. The delight of the lover of ships at seeing the great towering vessels passing off-shore is matched by the triumph of the botanist discovering a secret flower or the ornithologist at the new season's bird migrants. The history seeker may plod happily about his business, scarcely noticing the fisherman reeling in his line on a deserted shore.

It is a place to discover solitude and quiet joy, always remembering that its time, according to its shifting history, is almost up. The two and a half centuries is almost gone. Spurn Head may not be there tomorrow.

Leslie Thomas. 1981



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Rob's Notes on the article above; first written about 2 yrs ago.

The Narrows have been breached several times in the last 30 years, and the spit re-instated and a rough tarmac road re-laid to give access to both the Coastguard Station and the bird sanctuary. The old cottages are now all uninhabited other than by duty lifeboatmen on shift, the lifeboatmen and families having decamped across to Grimsby.

The lighthouse has been disused for about 10 years, modern radar and navigation aids making it redundant.

The old narrow-guage railway is now all but invisible, with just the occasional view of the old iron rails set in the sectional concrete road just visible. It's the road sections that move with the storms and mis-align themselves, making what is left of the railway appear to jump from side to side.

The dunes on either side of the lane down the spit are up to about 12-15 feet high, and topped and bound together still with marram grass. When on the lane, it can be quite sheltered from a sea wind by the dunes.

Views of the sea and river are glimpsed between the dunes as one drives or walks down the 3-mile lane, as are the occasional hexagonal concrete pill-boxes that used to sit atop the dunes, built as a precaution against the expected Nazi invasion of 1940-41. Most of them have now slipped down onto the beach, many below the sand.

The road is no longer open for free public access. A charge of £5 is made at the little hut at the top of the spit. No dogs are allowed, not even on a lead.

The very tip of the headland, and right around the point, has a steeper beach than most photos show. The drop of the tide is quite spectacular, and more akin to a deep riverbank. In the middle of the 'island' of the headland, it is quite sunken and sheltered behind the dunes, a haven for birds amongst the stunted trees and undergrowth. On a warm day, it can get quite hot in there.

The point is made of mixed shingle and sand. Mostly shingle. And mud on the river side. It's a lonlier place now than it used to be. Since the public have been stopped from driving down (anyone can still walk down, but 3 miles is a bit much for modern folk), there's few visitors at all.

I fear the big storm that will take Spurn away, for it will do more than rattle our slates in East Hull. It strikes me that if Hull, and indeed even Goole, are to continue to thrive as ports, then our authorities need to re-learn some of the tricks the Victorians knew, and find the monies to fund those tricks. Ever since I first read Leslie Thomas' article, I've always realised that Spurn is, to all intents and purposes, Hull's natural breakwater, our own harbour wall if we can view it as that.

It also seems to me that, had it not been for those extensive wartime defences built during both world wars, the concrete roads and railway for access, the pill-boxes, the observation posts and the like, the narrow neck of Spurn may well not have lasted as long as it has. Military intervention gave us the Spurn we knew in the post-war years, which in themselves served pretty well holding back the forces of nature for another 50 years or so. But now the sea and nature are taking hold, winning back what they would have already had by the 1960s or before if those concrete roads and emplacements had never been built in the first place.

Much of that concrete can now be seen down on the windswept beach, gradually breaking up. And even now, whilst they are there, all smashed up, they are still helping just a bit to delay the total breach of the spit and the day when the island of Spurn will be permament, and not just at high tide. If that is allowed to happen, then Hull's days as a port are numbered. The money HAS to be found, the engineering and defence work has to be done.

Otherwise, City of Culture or no, without such thriving ports, Hull may not be considered 'economic enough' by ever-so-thrifty governments to be even thought worth saving from these hungry tides. We certainly can't go on as we are. Culture is of no use to anyone when the streets are under 4ft of sea water. In the long run, it will be cheaper to rebuild those dunes now, protect the spit again with wooden groynes, and so protect the Humber seaway itself, rather than abandon a huge city to the rising waters. It's a moot point, but if a major part of Hull did become uninhabitable, Beverley wouldn't be exactly high and dry either.

Our 'Authorities' need to start re-learning those tricks sharpish. Time is not on our side. As Leslie Thomas did, and suggests, you only have to look at history to see what's coming. But it doesn't have to be that way, it could be defended and last for another 100 years or more. It's not a question of whether it can be done, even Victorian engineers with their limited equipment managed it, along huge sections of Britain's coastline. It's a question of whether it will be done, and for a nation that can partake in space exploration and send hundreds of millions of pounds abroad to help with disaster relief, no-one will convince me that it cannot be afforded. We have a disaster of our own, slowly unfolding here and now, and it needs attending to. Or we'll all need more than wellies!


Rob the webmaster: Dec 2013.






Below is a link to the
early Ordnance Survey map of the village,
dated 1855, mentioned on other pages.

Click this first link . .
the others below it are required by copyright law.
1855 SUTTON MAP

This image, linked above, is produced from the
Old Maps Service
with permission of
Landmark Information Group Ltd
and
Ordnance Survey

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