Hull Seamen's and General Orphanage, Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire

The Mariners' Church Orphan Society was founded in 1853 to support the orphaned children of seamen. Its first chairman was Joseph R Pease (Junior). In 1866, now renamed the Hull Seamen's and General Orphan Society, the charity established its Asylum and Schools in purpose-built premises on Spring Bank, Hull. The location of the home is shown on the 1911 map below.

Hull Seamen's and General Orphanage site, Kingston upon Hull, c.1911.

Hull Seamen's and General Orphanage from the east, Spring Bank, c.1907. © Peter Higginbotham

The institution, with its grounds, covered more than two acres. The buildings, of red brick with stone dressings in the Elizabethan style, were designed by the London architect, T.H. Wyatt, and the cost of construction was paid for by the Liverpool MP, John Torr. In 1876, the addition of a dining hall and girls' wing were financed by C. H. Wilson M.P. and his brother, Arthur Wilson J.P. A further extension was made in 1811, providing a girls' day-room and increasing the accommodation to 200 children. In 1885, a new class-room was added to the school, adjacent to Derringham Street, together with a reading room, bathroom, kitchen and a steam heating system.

Hull Seamen's and General Orphanage from the north-west, Spring Bank, c.1910. © Peter Higginbotham

According to its rules, the institution admitted the orphans of seamen connected with, or born within, the port of Kingston upon Hull and its ancient limits of Bridlington, Grimsby, Gainsborough and Goole, or within seven miles of the Trinity House, Hull. Other orphans could apply for admission to the home, but took lower priority.

As well as receiving orphans into the establishment, the Society assisted those residing at home with their relations by providing them with clothing and educating them at Board Schools.

Like many establishments of its type, the home had its own boys' band that performed at local events. Some of the boys went on to careers as military bandsmen.

Spring Bank Orphanage boys' band, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Spring Bank Orphanage boys' band, 1920. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1920, the charity purchased Hesslewood Hall, a large old mansion at Hessle, five miles to the west of Hull, formerly the residence of the Pease family. The children came out from Spring Bank to see the House in 1920. The girls then moved in January 1921, followed by the boys in February.

The location of the home is shown on the 1928 map below.

Hull Seamen's and General Orphanage site, Kingston upon Hull, c.1928.

Hull Seamen's and General Orphanage, Hessle, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Hull Seamen's and General Orphanage, Hessle, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Hull Seamen's and General Orphanage, Hessle, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

By the 1980s, a decline in the number of admissions to the home, coupled with the property's increasingly expensive upkeep, led to its closure in 1985. The premises were subsequently used as a hotel and a residential home. The site is now used as a business park .

After the move out the home at Spring Bank, the premises were taken over for use as government offices. The buildings no longer exist.

The charity, now known as the Hesslewood Children's Trust, continues to support the relief and education of those aged under 25 who are in need, hardship or distress in Humberside and north Lincolnshire.

Records

Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.

  • Hull History Centre, Worship Street, Hull HU2 8BG. Very extensive archives include Staff and administrative records (1853-1985), Application records (1857-1967), Admission registers (1866-1983), Birth and baptism certificates (1853-1938), Withdrawal register (1867-1985), Punishment book (1957-72), Photographs, Plans, News cuttings, etc.

Census

Bibliography

  • Hicks, J.D. Our Orphans — the Story of Hull Seamen's and General Orphanage, 1853-1979 (1983)