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Salthouse Lane, Hull

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Salthouse Lane, Hull 53.745249, -0.330567 Situated just north-west of the Old Harbour, Salthouse Lane was half a mile or so outside the old and tightly packed town centre. Described in 1798 as ‘an open, airy street in which a few merchants reside’, by the 1830s, it was more developed, though still retained a respectable appearance and a proportion of Tory merchant residents.
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This is an original research article. To cite, please use: Katrina Navickas, ‘Hull’, 2015,

Salthouse Lane

Salthouse Lane was a site of political activity. Situated just north-west of the Old Harbour, it was half a mile or so outside the old and tightly packed town centre. Described in 1798 as ‘an open, airy street in which a few merchants reside’, by the 1830s, it was more developed, though still retained a respectable appearance and a proportion of Tory merchant residents.[1]

The lane was the site of the Subscription Schoolrooms, erected 1806, which were used for multiple purposes, including a dinner in honour of Whig MP Daniel Sykes attended by 270 gentlemen in September 1830, for meetings of the Hull Auxiliary Peace Society in 1831 and of the temperance society in 1839.[2] Salthouse Lane was the site of a Baptist Chapel, a hospital for poor women rebuilt by the Corporation in 1829, and a large house built for a wealthy merchant in the 1780s which had been bought by the Bank of England in 1829 and operated as their branch until the 1850s.[3]

The ‘working men’s association rooms’ at the White Hart on Salthouse Lane hosted weekly meetings of the association and from mid 1839 onwards, and the Chartists used the large room for public meetings.[4] The Chartist headquarters in Hull were half a mile south at the Royal Oak in the middle of Blackfriargate, the major thoroughfare between the Shambles and the old harbour. Again this was not an exclusively male space, as the Female Patriotic Society held their weekly meetings at the Royal Oak in late 1839.[5]

[1] John Tickell, The History of the Town and County of Kingston-upon-Hull (Hull, 1798), p.840. At the January 1835 election (later investigated in the parliamentary select committee for electoral corruption), 39 householders and burgesses registered at Salthouse Lane voted, the majority plumping for the sitting Tory candidate David Carruthers, a London merchant: The Poll-Book For the Borough of Kingston-upon-Hull (Hull, 1835); James Joseph Sheahan, General and Concise History and Description of the Town and Port of Kingston-upon-Hull (London, 1864), p.250.

[2] PP 1823, Copies of All Reports … Under the Gaol Act, p.269; Hull Packet, 28 September 1830; The Herald of Peace, vol 8 (London, 1831), p. 469; NS, 23 February 1839.

[3] PP (XLV) 1834, Accounts and Papers Relating to Corporate Offices and Charitable Funds (1834), p.291;

[4] Northern Star, 3 August, 7, 14 September 1839.

[5] Northern Star, 3 August, 14 September 1839.


James Acland and the unstamped press

James Acland was almost a one man champion of anti-corruption first in Bristol 1829-31 and then in Hull after he had been released from prison for printing libelous material in his Bristolian unstamped paper. He continued his crusade by publishing the Hull Portfolio in 1831, and was imprisoned again for fifteen months. Upon his release, he then moved to Manchester, where he became involved in the campaign against the monopoly on the markets, and an Anti-Corn Law League lecturer.[1]

The reform bill agitation was employed for more particular local grievances, in Hull’s case, the monopoly of the corporation over tolls and customs. Acland headed the Hull Political Union, and pushed forward a radical agenda at a meeting to consider the Lords’ rejection of the reform bill on 11 October 1831, including such resolutions as ‘that the aristocracy of this Country is no longer entitled to the estimation or respect of the people’.[2] A moderate reform meeting was convened at the Guild Hall on 17 October following a requisition of 283 individuals, and although agreeing to the meeting the Mayor William Hall refused to take any more part in the event. Reverend Richard Sykes took the chair, and the meeting was adjourned outside due to the numbers, with the speakers mounting a stage that had been co-incidentally erected for a circus on the corner of Queen Street and Wellington Street. The Hull Packet estimated about 30,000 people in the crowd.[3] The magistrates held a special meeting at the Guild Hall on 21 November to consider swearing in special constables in anticipation of unrest. James Acland, however, issued a ‘formal protest and declaration of the burgesses of the town and borough’ which declared that they would refuse to serve as special constables because of their opposition to the tolls collected by the Corporation. He claimed that the stall keepers of the market had received ‘wholesale attacks … by the continued multiplication of the legal proceedings’ against them for non-payment’. The protest lay for signatures at Acland’s printing shop at 38 Queen Street. The Political Union met with the mayor and magistrates on the same day about their refusal to serve as special constables, and Acland issued another circular again declaiming: ‘Do not justify the calling out of special constables by those who have eight hundred a year dependant [sic] on the Ferry Monopoly and two thousand a year on the Town Tolls’.[4] The toll question dragged on into 1832, with the Anti-Mill Society meeting with the aldermen about their opposition to the tolls, although the bench of magistrates rejected their claims.[5]

Though Acland’s battles in Hull seem localised, the campaign for a free press and for the ‘march of intellect’ had wider ideals covering a wider geographical area. The very title of Hobson’s The Voice of the West Riding indicated its purpose – as representative of those inhabitants who did not have a voice in the elite-controlled papers – and its scope: this was a regional enterprise, proud of its West Yorkshire identity.

The early 1830s saw other endeavours at unification of regions, organisations and class – not least in Henry Hunt’s revival of his Northern Union, and more significantly, union leader and cotton spinner John Doherty’s National Union of the Working Classes. Even if these faltered in practice, the ambitions and new goals were clearly evident. Hobson shared these pan-regional horizons, having with the other committee members of the Political Union in November 1831 issued a circular calling for a meeting of delegates at, importantly, ‘Manchester, as the centre’ in order to ‘frame general resolutions for a grand meeting all over Britain and Ireland, on the same day and hour, so that the people may come in all respects well prepared to meet their tyrants on one great and general principle’.[6] Manchester, it seems, still held sway over the nevertheless proud Yorkshire woollen and fancy weavers.

[1] Gareth Bush, Bristol and its Municipal Government, 1820-51 (Bristol, 1976), p.57; Patricia Hollis (ed), Pressure From Without; Scola, Feeding the Victorian City, p.165.

[2] TNA, HO 52/15/538, The Hull Portfolio, 12 October 1831; HO 52/15/542, Codd to Melbourne, 12 October 1831.

[3] Hull Packet, 18 October 1831.

[4] TNA, HO 52/15/534, Printed circular, 21 November 1831; HO 52/15/536, ‘To the People of Hull’, 21 November 1831.

[5] Hull Packet, 13 March 1832.

[6] Poor Man’s Guardian, 5 November 1831; TNA, HO 52/15/544, printed circular, 1 November 1831.

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