Kingston upon Hull in the 18th century was, increasingly, an outlet for manufactured goods from the fast growing towns of Yorkshire. So goods like tools and cutlery were exported. Raw materials for the industrial towns were imported into Hull. One import was iron from Sweden and Russia. Materials for shipbuilding such as timber, hemp, pitch and flax were also imported. Exports included grain and other foodstuffs. There were many whalers operating from Hull. Due to whales being hunted for their blubber, which was melted to make oil and for whalebone.
However the port became congested so a dock was built where ships could load and unload cargoes. It opened in 1778 on the site of Queens Gardens. At that time it stood just North of the town. In the late 18th and early 19th century the walls around Hull were demolished piecemeal.
Kingston upon Hull was not a manufacturing centre in the 18th century. The only large-scale industry was shipbuilding. this was due to the fishing and whaling industry as well as the port trade. However there was also an industry grinding rapeseed. This was ground by windmills or horse mills with the oil being used in making paint and soap. There was also some sugar refining in Hull.
Hull grew very rapidly in the 18th century. The population grew from around 7,500 in 1700 to around 22,000 in 1800. Maister House was built in 1744. In the last part of the century suburbs grew outside the old town. North of the town development spread to Sculcoates. In the 1790s new houses were built West of the town.
In 1755 an Act of Parliament set up a body of men with responsibility for paving, cleaning and lighting the streets of Hull. Five more acts were passed in the next 60 years adding to their powers. A similar improvement act for Sculcoates was passed in 1801 and another for Trippett and Myton in 1810. In 1735 a statue of King William 1688-1704 was erected. Hull had a theatre by 1743 when one stood in Lowgate. Hull Royal Infirmary opened in 1782.
In 1759 William Wilberforce, who campaigned against slavery was born in Hull. His house is now a museum. He is also commemorated by a monument by Hull College.