14 March 2016

Humber

The Beck at Barrow Haven
The Humber is a mighty river. Various smaller rivers run into it including the Ouse, the Trent and the River Hull. Though only forty miles in length, The Humber was once an important defining line between the ancient kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria. It drains almost 10,000 square miles of northern and central England.

Crossing The Humber was always challenging. It is almost a mile across and subject to the tides. Beneath its treacherous muddy waters there are sandbanks and moving mudflats. Nowadays, crossing the estuary is easy because of The Humber Bridge that elegantly links East Yorkshire with northern Lincolnshire but once folk had to rely upon little ferries that were sailed, rowed or later powered by steam.

Leaving Yorkshire, the ferries nearly always embarked from the city of Hull but on the Lincolnshire side there were several tiny ferry ports, including Goxhill, New Holland, Barton and Barrow Haven. I visited the latter port on Saturday morning. Essentially, it is the place where Barrow Beck joins The Humber. From there you can see Hull across the river.
On October 5th 1541, a ferryboat docked at Barrow Haven and a corpulent, gout-ridden king alighted. It was King Henry VIII. He had been to Hull with the Privy Council to conduct one of his infamous royal visits that were largely connected with maximising taxation, organising the nation's defences and crushing the power of Roman Catholicism. At the time he was in the middle of his two year marriage to his fifth wife - Catherine Howard who would  be executed the following year.

From Barrow Haven, Henry rode into nearby Barrow-upon-Humber and then onwards to Thornton Abbey, an influential  Roman Catholic monastery that had been dissolved at the king's command just two years earlier. Perhaps Henry was checking to make sure his instructions had been followed or possibly he just wanted a bed for the night along with a few roast suckling pigs and several flagons of wine.
 Barrow Haven. Below - where The Beck meets The Humber.
When I was a schoolboy in Hull, I once played truant with a friend called Lee. This was well before The Humber Bridge was constructed. We boarded the morning steam ferry at Hull's Corporation Pier. It was "The Tattershall Castle", now marooned on The Thames in London. We headed across The Humber to an exotic faraway land called Lincolnshire - the place where The Yellowbellies resided. And we strolled around New Holland for an hour or two. We bought crisps and fizzy drinks from the village shop and then we went back, back to our painful reality - a chalkdust world of chemistry formulae, the conjugation of Latin verbs, teachers in black capes and a vague but persistent  odour of  pine disinfectant.

That was not the life we sought. We wanted to be free. Perhaps, like King Henry VIII we should have continued heading south that day.

23 comments:

  1. Henry V111 would fit into today's society well enough - except for maybe the execution of wives.

    The boats on the Beck have much character but the low tide does nothing for the appearance of the waterway.
    Ms Soup

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    1. If I had had more time I should have liked to take pictures of the mud - all velvety and shiny with folds and tiny rivulets and little holes where tiny creatures were hiding. The mud and the tides are part of The Humber's estuarine character Alphie.... Henry VIII's way of ruling was Trump-like.

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  2. Well, you had a taste of freedom and you didn't like It!Like many kids you probably had an idea of how to get your freedom.

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    1. ...But I did like it Red. It was with a heavy heart that we caught the ferry home.

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  3. I don't really know whether or not I dream't this but do have a vague recollection of driving to Hull around 1970 to have a ride across on a hovercraft. We never did as it wasn't working. Maybe it never existed.

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    1. See this link Adrian:-
      http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/Humber-hovercraft-s-early-demise/story-11547967-detail/story.html

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  4. Any landscape directly affected by the tides is so fascinating, isn't it!
    It would be interesting to know whether Lee remembers your adventure. Are you still in touch?
    Henry VIII was, from all I know about him, a thoroughly unpleasant person.

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    1. King Henry 8th was the Donald Trump of his day... No, I am not in touch with Lee. And yes tidal areas are indeed fascinating - especially when you are an inland dweller.

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  5. Hubby worked in Sweden for many years, and in the sixties we sailed regularly between Hull and Gothenburg, if we took the car with us. Later the ferry terminal moved to Felixstowe, but by then we were mostly flying in and out.

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  6. As always, lovely photos YP.

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    1. Dear CG
      When hubby was sailing to the land of blonde Swedish au paires I suspect that you may have sailed from Immingham on the south bank of the Humber? Tor Line ferries? That's when I saw the TV presenter Stuart Hall - journeying across the North Sea with his noisy entourage.

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    2. Yes, you're right YP - it was Immingham, and Tor Line. Don't think we ever came across Stuart Hall though !

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  7. You missed out any reference to the Humber range of automobiles, named after the bridge that the yellowbellies were finally able to drive across in order to fertilise the women folk of Hull.

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    1. Hey, it worked both ways SP. My wife is a Lincolnshire lass. My dad had a lovely old Humber Hawk. The workmanship was magnificent.

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    2. When was the first Humber Bridge? The first Humber car was built pre-1900. I had a Humber Sceptre. It was a lovely vehicle but a later era than the Hawk and Super Snipe.

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  8. Yorkie, you promised you'd never tell anyone about the day you and I played truant!!!!!

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    1. You were a bad influence in those far off days. I was a good boy until I met you Lee!

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  9. Funny how even an escape to Lincolnshire can seem exotic when you're in school! (Like me escaping to downtown Tampa.) That is a big ol' river -- I had no idea the Humber is so wide. I love that boat, the "Phyllis." Great picture. I need to get out more.

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    1. When I was a camp counsellor in Ohio in the seventies I met several Yanks who thought that England and London were synonymous! Yes. You need to get out more Steve. See the real England.

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  10. Ah The Tattershall Castle - knew it intimately - the only way to get across the Hull without going round by Goole. We used to cross with our tandem when we were young (think it was from Barton on Humber), stay the night B and B somewhere in Hull and bike back the next day. Those were the days. I distinctly remember eating the largest piace of liver and onions and thick gravy in a caff in Hull.

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    1. Not from Barton Mrs Weaver... from New Holland. Good heavens, you must have been fit in those days!

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  11. Not unlike Trinity Inlet here, except for the absence of mangroves. I am curious ~ what are the white cliffs in the distance of your last photo?

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    1. No. They are not white cliffs Carol. They are riverfront installations connected with shipping. In fact I believe that one of the white streaks is a P&O ferry soon bound for Rotterdam in Holland.

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