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.)
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
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,
.. 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
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
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
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
John Markham's "Streets of Hull"
'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
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
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
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
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!
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."