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ST ANDREWS DOCK

Initially St Andrews Dock was planned to be built and devoted to the sole accomodation of the Hull fishing fleet, it was then further envisaged to use the dock for  the future planned use of exporting coal from the many Yorkshire coal fields to other ports around the UK,  but when the mass movement of coal did not materialize the dock became available for the sole use of the fishing fleet . Work began on the new dock in 1876 as did that of the William Wright Dock , both docks would be built by reclaiming part of the Humber by use of a sea wall  which was built with the excavated soil, the dock would have a entrance of 50ft and be around 10 acres of water space with a quay of 4,000 lineal feet. Over the next centuary St Andrews Dock would become renown as the home of the Hull fishing industry and like a purpose built city it could handle any aspect associated with catching, processing and the selling of fish products, as well as meeting all the needs of the trawlers themselves, such as survey, repair, ice and bunkering to commodities like nets, warps and ropes, communications, compass and navigation equipment, stores, saw mills, engineering and so forth. With its own bank, post and telegraph offices, insurance company, outfitters and doctors surgery although all independant of each other the dock run like a well oiled machine.

Named after the patron saint of fishermen St Andrews Dock was opened by the Hull Dock Co to the approximate 655 fishing vessels * of the Hull fishing industry and several steam carriers on Monday 24th September 1883 at a cost of £414,707 with a total space of 10 acres when opened, a further extension was also added to the dock and completed in 1897 giving a total of nearly 20 acres of water space and the added facility of hauling vessels onto a hard standing for their annual survey or repair. The opening ceremony for the new dock was presided over by the chairman of the Hull Dock Co Mr J R Ringrose, the yacht  Duke of Edinburgh  and the Isle of  Axeholme carried the dignitaries of Hull Dock Co to the ceremony at St Andrews from the pier, several fishing smacks where also towed by the tug Active in the procession and entered the dock of which the Beaconsfield and Sir Stafford Northcoate H1332 where two. For almost 100 years St Andrews Dock saw many changes in the fishing industry from the introduction of mass produced ice to the decline of the sailing smack and latterly the introduction of the stern trawler. The fish market carried the name of Billingsgate taken from that of the London market where much of the fish landed was sent by train or directly from the fishing grounds by cutter in the early days.

* 1882 - 535 first class vessels with a tonnage of 33,858,  201 second class vessels and one third class vessel was registered under the Sea Fisheries Act at Hull, of which 2,933 men where needed to man the vessels of which 2,400 where constantly engaged and a further 200 occasionally employed.

In Feb 1893 it was unanimously voted that the estate of Hull Docks Co would be sold to the North Eastern Railway for a sum of £3,000,000, giving them control of both the docks and railway, in subsequent years ownership would also pass to the British Transport Docks Board and eventually to Associated British Ports.  Due to the extreme costs in repairing and updating the fish market on November 3rd in 1975 St. Andrews Dock was closed.

Billingsgate : The fish market with its covered stages eventually consisted of an area of over 612,370 feet, many towns where represented by their own fish merchant who held offices on the fish dock, the sale of fish been done by the Dutch Auction wherebye the auctioneer would start at the highest price he expected to gain for the fish and he would then come down in price till a merchant bid the amount he was willing to pay. Much of the fish was purchased for transportation and sale to the major cities such as London, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester although almost every town would receive a supply of fish from either Hull or Grimsby. On landing and at the market all fish was inspected for quality by dedicated inspectors who`s job it was to ensure all fish reached it`s destination in as fresh and saleable state as possible. For various reasons it was not unknown for whole catches to be condemned, as was the occasional 10 stone kit, this fish would then be sent to the fishmeal factory where it would be processed into a byproduct, red fish or soldiers as they where commonly known would automatically go to the fishmeal and would not be sold at market. From the trawler owners down to the office clerks and dock workers everyone wanted a fry of fish and as often was the case, the fish which was supplied had not been through the sale and market process but had been whisked away on landing.  There is no doubt that a black market also excisted and much of the fish which was unsold or destined for fishmeal would be purchased at a fraction of normal costs and then find its way to the fish mongers and dinner tables, making huge profits for those involved, in some cases the fish merchants themselves.

FISH DOCK FIRE 1929

 25 AUG 1929

It was a normal sunny August sunday as the usuall activety around the fish dock had pursued throughout the day, several trawlers had arrived on the tide that day from Iceland, Faeroe`s and the White Sea and had tied up at the new No 2 Market Landing stage and some where awaiting the unloading of their catches the following morning . The new No 2 market which had been built almost completely from timber with a steel sub structure had taken almost one and a half years to complete was part of a re-generation and modernization project by the London & North Eastern Railway Company to extend the fish market to meet the growing needs of the fish trade at cost of between £150.000 and £200,000 and was at the time very near completion.

It was about 7-15pm when a fish dock worker by the name of J W Charlton was walking alongside the dock at St Andrew`s and spotted smoke rising from the new landing sheds and the surrounding office`s, as he watched the clouds of smoke, flames began to break through the roof. Mr Charlton then went to raise the alarm, finding a police seargeant and constable of the dock police, who promptly rang for the fire brigade, who arrived quickly on the scene, and eventually every available engine in Hull would attend the fire.

 

The fire spread rapidly and by 8pm that evening and less than an hour after discovery the fire was at it`s most ferocity and spreading. As the black smoke engulfed the clear night sky flames up- to 50 feet high could be seen across Hull and crowds of spectators gathered on the overhead bridge and down the bottom of Liverpool Street to watch the raging fire. The new landing stage was now engulfed with the fire spreading in both directions from it`s centre along the roof. There where constant gas explosions from the gas mains as they blew up causing the quick spread of the fire and hampering all efforts to bring it under control. The new offices where also well alight and debris from them and the roof rained down onto the dockside and the trawlers berthed at the landing stage. The greatest fear was that the fire would spread even further down the dock and affect other buildings. There was also in excess of 200 wooden railway fish- vans which where standing empty on three tracks, and where awaiting loading the next morning which where also set abalze.

 

 

 

The new building of over 468 yards in length was comprised mainly on the ground floor of the many fish merchants offices backed by store rooms, on the upper deck a balcony ran from end to end with accessing stairways at various intervals, not only was the entire structure built from mainly timber but had an array of combustibles stored within, such as fish boxes, kits, and stores. It was soon apparant that there was little chance of saving the landing stage and efforts where put into containing the fire and stopping it`s spread. In total over 200 wooden structures where burnt to the ground inclusive of 96 offices which had been furnished with new office equipment. with an approximate value of £100.000.

From watchmen, enginemen, boatmen to the dock workers each did as much as he could to salvage what they could. Steam was raised in the shunting wagons and the task to move the fish -vans awaitng to trasfer the fish inland the following morning got underway, but was hampered by the many fire hoses strewn across the rail tracks, over 100 vans would be saved but over a distance of a quarter of a mile the fire went from van to van and left 105 totally destroyed leaving only their twisted wheels and iron undersides.

 

In the intense heat only the steel structure remains.

 

 

The several trawlers ranging in cost from £17,000 - £20,000 where inaccesable from the shore and some of the watchmen where taken off by the boat men and a tug. With the fire engulfing the trawlers mostly above the waterline, their decks, bridges and lifeboats aflame, the steam tugs Biddy and Ingric where employed to move what vessels they could to the far side of the dock away from the danger area and where they would become more accesable for the firefighters to extinguish them. but despite these efforts 3 of the trawlers where completely burnt out.

 

Name
Built
Fate
Owner
LORD DERAMORE H461 1928 Totally burnt out Pickering & Haldane Steam Fishing Co Ltd Had already landed it`s fish - Refit and returned to sea
OHM H128 1915 Totally burnt out F & T Ross Ltd Hull Refit returned to sea
MARCONI H488 1916 Totally burnt out F & T Ross Ltd Hull Refit returned to sea
NORMAN H249 1911 Saved Hellyer Brothers Had already landed it`s fish - Repaired and returned to sea
DAIRYCOATES H270 1926 Saved City Steam Fishing Co Ltd Had already landed it`s fish - Repaired and returned to sea
FROBISHER H170 1919 Saved Hudson Brothers Repaired and returned to sea
ST ALEXANDRA H373 1927 Saved Thomas Hamling & Co Ltd Had already landed it`s fish - Saved by dock workers who cut mooring ropes and pushed her away from the landing stage where she finally drifted withing reach of fire hoses. - Repaired and returned to sea -

 

The watchman of the Lord Deramore refused to leave his vessel but as the thick acrid smoke billowed around the vessel he was taken aboard a tug, the watchmen of the Frobisher named Kirby was slightly injured when a burning Dan- Buoy fell on him and knocked him to the deck, he later collapsed and was taken to hospital. A further report states the watchman aboard the Dairycoates was cutting through the mooring ropes when he fell overboard between his vessel and the blazing landing stage, a teenager named Dick Campbell with another youth is said to have then rowed a small boat across the dock and rescued him, this is contradictory to another account stating the watchman who had a wooden leg cut the mooring ropes and jumped overboard swimming to a painter`s raft. There where fresh stories the following morning and one which came to light was the rescue of a cat from the Frobisher by four boys who had been wandering along the dockside when the fire broke out, they assisted in getting dock hoses out and running them from a donkey engine in the Hull Fish Meal Companies Works, they also threw burning kits on the dockside into the water, when on hearing the mewing of a cat aboard the burning Frobisher they got a oil lamp and at considerable risk went aboard to rescue the animal. The boys names where Harry Young, Harry Duffield, Harry Hepton, and John Harper.

 

The aftermath of the fire would reveal large scale devastation the dock was strewn with fish boxes, kits and wheel - barrows which had been thrown burning into the water, now settled the water was dark with a charcoal scum atop, efforts would be made to salve as many of these items as possible and after been retrieved and scrubbed many where placed back in service that day, wheel - barrows been at a premium. It was reported that of the vessels affected by the fire which had not landed their fish, on later inspection by the food inspectors the fish was proclaimed fit for sale, the fish had been packed in ice in the holds and the intense heat the vessels where subjected to had had little effect up-on it.. There was no fresh icelandic fish but four trawlers from the North Sea and four Faeroe`s trawlers due to land that day where redirected and unloaded at the old market consisting of 725 kits of North Sea and 1,400 kits of Faeroe`s chiefly been plaice, soles, halibut, cod, whiting and hake. The price for fish in Hull almost instantly increased considerably that day.

It is expected the effect of the fire will adversly affect the industry for a minimum of 12 months, as many of the books and records in the offices have been destroyed and all but one safe which held £200 in bank notes, had been opened like tins of sardine`s by the extreme heat that they where subjected to, their contents been rendered to ashes. An immediate effect was the large loss of orders which where quickly picked up by Grimsby and Fleetwood merchants, the future of 60,000 people dependant upon the industry, such as clerks, barrow men and packers was in jeopardy but at the same time the many companies such as the barrow makers, box and barrel makers, rope makers, and such would be inundated with new orders.

With a total of over 270 merchants at the port and 150 of them having offices and bays on the new No2 market it would be sometime before the disorganization could be brought back to a working environment, with the loss of telephones and equipment many of the merchants had started doing their buisness from their own homes immediately, after the inland merchants had had difficulty in contacting them. The immediate loss of fish sales for the day would run into many thousands of pounds. The total cost to the industry would be far too large to calculate immediately but the initial estimate of £250,000 for the landing stage and offices was deemed well below par.

In just over a week 200ft of the destroyed landing stage had been cleared and it was expected that a further 300ft could be cleared a fortnight later, within one month a third of the landing stage had been cleared and trawlers where making landings prior to this.

The true cause of the fire was never established but it was deemed although the gas was a major contributor it was an electrical fault which caused the blaze.

 

TUNNEL EXPLOSION

 23 OCT 1970

 

On Friday 23rd Oct 1970 in the early afternoon a British Road Transport lorry entered the subway tunnel onto St Andrews Dock to deliver goods when a propane gas tank loaded on the vehicle was fractured after it collided with the roof of the tunnel, the gas vapourized and was ignited. At the time there where women and children in the tunnel as fishermen`s wives went to collect their wages, a man cycling through the tunnel and persumed to have been smoking was set alight Pc Keith Winter aged 22 of the dock police went to his assistance but was also enveloped in flames and badly burnt, As flames swept through the tunnel screams could be heared as clothing was set on fire, the injured where taken to the fishermans medical centre untill ambulances arrived. In total 19 people where treated some for serious burns two children aged 2 and five where also treated. Mr Alec Weir of Doncaster the lorry driver was unhurt. Mr Norman Brooks aged 49 of  Bilton Grange Died as a result of his Injuries the following day.

 

St Andrews Dock closed to the Hull fishing fleet on 3 Nov 1975 when the Arctic Raider left at 4 am for the Spitzbergen fishing grounds, several tied up vessels had been moved to Albert Dock and it was the St Dominic that would be the first to land her catch at the new fish market at Albert Dock. Moving to Albert Dock had been delayed because of problems with the swing bridge and electricity supply and although the landing of the Dominic had teething problems with the mechanical machinery, bobbers decided to land the fish by the basket method and the landing was succesful although the trip for the St Dominic made an approximate £15,000 loss, after landing 1,793 Kits of which 933 where cod - merchants bought 718 kits of the cod, 75 kits where taken away by health inspectors and another 200 kits where taken away by Hull Fishing Vessel Owners Association quality controllers, it was later found that the new lighting had affected the look of the fish.