The changing face of hull docklands

In the early twentieth century, Hull was Britain’s third port and fronted almost seven miles of docks along its Humber waterfront. Many of these are no longer in existence and have been replaced with modern developments.

Hull’s first dock was built between 1775 and 1778 and named The Dock until the construction of further docks when it was renamed The Old Dock. In 1855 it was officially named the Queen’s Dock. This subsequently closed in 1930, it was filled in and converted to gardens known as Queen’s Gardens.

The entrance to the Old Dock was via the River Hull and created difficulties for ships accessing the crowded river. In 1809 Humber Dock was built to help alleviate these problems. This closed in 1968 and reopened in 1983 as the Hull marina.


In 1829 Junction Dock opened this was built between and connected the Old Dock and Humber Dock, making the old town of Hull an island bounded by the docks, river and estuary. It was renamed Princes Dock in 1855. This closed in 1968, and although part of the dock still remains it has no lock connection to the Humber Dock. The Princes Quay shopping centre was built on stilts over part of the dock and opened in 1991. Railway Dock was opened in 1846. The name indicates it’s purpose, which was to transfer goods to and from the Hull and Selby Railway. This closed in 1968 and became part of the Hull Marina in 1984. Victoria Dock was completed in 1850; this was the first dock to be built to the east side of the River Hull and had two entrances. The main use of the dock was for the timber trade. In 1863 the dock was expanded east .Victoria Dock closed in the 1970’s and was filled in. During the late 1980’s the land was used to construct a new housing development which is known as Victoria Dock village. Built on the Humber foreshore Albert Dock opened in 1869 it’s entrance was at the eastern end close to the Humber Dock. A westward extension was built on to the dock and opened in 1880 named William Wright Dock. In 1972 both of these closed to commercial vehicles and were converted for use as fish docks. In 1975 the Hull fishing fleet moved to these docks. Both docks remain in use today for the use of general cargo traffic.

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St Andrews Dock was opened in 1883 built directly to the west of William Wright Dock. It had been planned to use the dock for coal handling but instead it was used entirely for the fishing industry. The dock was extended in 1897 and remained in use until 1975 when the fishing industry moved to Albert Dock. During the 1980’s partial filling of the dock began. The western side of the dock was developed into St Andrews Quay Retail Park. The eastern part was declared a conservation area in 1990. The dock entrance remains but the dock itself is now completely silted. Alexandra Dock was built to the east of Victoria Dock between 1881 and 1885 and expanded in 1899/1900. Built on reclaimed land from the Humber it formed part of the construction of the Hull and Barnsley Railway its main purpose being exporting coal. The dock closed in 1982 and the railway connection removed. It reopened in 1991 and is currently being used for the handling of cargoes such as wood and chemicals.

King George Dock also known as The Joint Dock was opened in 1914 by King George V. To the north east corner of the dock two graving docks were constructed it’s initial use was for coal but a grain silo was added in 1919 and was used for import and export of grain. This silo was demolished in 2010/2011. 1965 saw the creation of berths for the Roll on Roll off (Ro-Ro) ferries. The increasing use of these ferries for transportation of freight resulted in the dock being extended in 1968. The extension was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1969 and named Queen Elizabeth Dock. In 1971 a container terminal opened at Queen Elizabeth Dock and in 1973 a further two Ro-Ro terminals opened. By 1975 the total Ro-Ro terminals at the two docks had increased to six. In 1993 River Terminal 1 which is now known as Rotterdam terminal was opened on the banks of the Humber Estuary south of King George Dock. The terminal was built specifically to cater for large Ro- Ro vessels. In 2000 another terminal named Finland had opened which was used for paper storage and by 2006 the dock had been expanded further. In 2010 there were ten Ro-Ro berths within the two docks. In addition the docks other facilities include the Kingston Terminal at Queen Elizabeth Dock used for imports of coal products and the well known P&O passenger ferry services to Rotterdam and Zebrugge.

Written by Margaret Tennant