Meander along the River by Paul Whitney
“….My thoughts viewing the river Humber today. It can look romantic as yachts at full sails cut their way through glistening waters, sometimes those waters are so still that the river sparkles like a chestful of diamonds. However, those of you who can cast their minds back to a time of the 1940s/50s will know that wide murky river with its swirling ebbs and shifting sands always seemed to be alive with all kinds of craft and there never seemed to be a still moment on her.
It was a marvellous sight to see tugs, trawlers, barges and ocean-going ships all moving on the river, the ships going to the docks or mooring up on the quays. The arms of the cranes would be swinging to and fro as they loaded and unloaded their cargoes that had come from countries all around the world. The tugs always seemed to be on the move, racing like swift greyhounds, the sound of their horns filled the air as they chased to cast their ropes to a waiting ship which needed towing into the dock. Trawlers steaming in or out of the river each one full of hope, those that were going out hoping for a good catch and a safe return, while those coming back into the port was hoping for a good pay off to spend on shore with their family and friends.
A great number of barges could be seen pushing their way up the river to reach distance inland ports, on the canals and rivers. The spray of breaking waves would cover the whole length of the barge has their bows cut forward. The barges seemed so low in the river that when a wave broke over their bows you would lose all sight of them and many a heart watching from the shores would miss a beat in case they had sunk, yet suddenly they would appear and the spray would disperse like the water from a shaking dog back.
The craft would push on towards waiting berths in the towns and cities along the canals and rivers which lead off the river Humber. The foreshore was like a great magnet to the children that lived in the streets which surrounded the docks. Armed with jam sandwiches and bottles of kyle water they would set off in gangs to this waterside playground. The stones which lined the foreshore often had a coat of oil which had drifted over them, the oil having been pumped from some ships bilge yet none were too black or too heavy and all seems to get overturned as kids searched under them for hidden treasures. Time would drift away with the tide as the adventures along the foreshore were played out, and many a child would arrive late back home. The river was a very dangerous place yet very few serious mishaps happened to the many children that visited. ” Paul Whitney
Thanks to Angus at the Mail for the use of the River archive photograph.
The idea for A River Full Of Stories came about when many of the 2000 visitors to the Open Bridges exhibition inside Scale Lane Bridge told us fascinating tales of their lives working on and around the river. We’ve been collecting stories throughout July – September 2018 and are now preparing the River Full Of Stories film, exhibition and book. We’ll keep the website blog up to date with stories and memories as we go along.
Rich & Lou Duffy-Howard
Open Bridges made history when for the first time all 13 of the bridges over the River Hull in the UK’s City of Culture 2017 raised, swung or closed simultaneously splitting the city of Hull in two at 20:17 hours on 22nd September 2017. Historic vessels sailed down the River to be met by 21st century tugs.
Open Bridges is an independent Hull/East Yorkshire based project.