20th century HullA map of Hull in the early 20th century

20th century Hull continued to expand and grow. In 1901 the population of Hull was 239,000 and it continued to rise. Meanwhile City Hall was built in 1909 and the guildhall was built in 1916. During the first world war Zeppelins (airships) bombed Hull. One raid in June 1915 killed 24 people.

Further expansion

During the 20th century amenities in Hull continued to improve. Ferens Art Gallery opened in 1927. A new theatre opened in 1939. In the 1920s and 1930s slum clearance began in the centre of Hull. Many new council houses were built on the West, North and East of the city. In the early 20th century many houses in Hull did not have flushing toilets. Instead they had ‘earth closets’ (Basically a pail with a container of ashes of loose earth over it. When you pulled a lever ashes or earth covered the contents of the pail. Men came at night to collect the contents and emptied it into a cart). As well as building council houses Hull council converted earth closets to flushing toilets in the early 20th century.

In 1929 the boundaries of Hull were extended to include Sutton and part of Anlaby. In 1935 Queens Gardens were laid out on the site of a filled in dock.


However Hull suffered severely in the depression of the 1930s. Many Dockers were unemployed so were many men in the shipbuilding industry. On the other hand there were some more modern industries such as engineering. During world war II about 5,000 houses were destroyed in Hull as well as 14 schools and 27 churches.

In the 20th century Hull imported wool from Australia and New Zealand. Wheat was also imported. So was petrol and wood. Coal and cotton were exported. Fishing boomed. Hull was Britain’s third largest port and its main fishing port. It was also a major passenger port. In 1970 160,000 people travelled to or from Gothenburg in Sweden or Rotterdam in Holland.

In the late 20th century industries in Hull included flour milling. Oil cake was made in Hull. So were metal boxes, plastic bags, excavators and caravans.

Hull University was founded in 1954. In 1980 a Tidal Surge Barrier was built across the River Hull. The Humber Bridge opened in 1981.

Retail and culture

In the late 20th century retail and tourism became major industries in Hull. Prospect Shopping Centre was opened in 1975. The Princes Quay Shopping Centre opened in 1990.

Meanwhile the Streetlife Museum opened in 1976. The Transport Museum opened in 1989. Hull’s Historic Docks were opened in 1991. RED Art Gallery opened in 1997. Hull and East Riding Museum opened in 1997. In 1999 a trawler, the Arctic Corsair was opened to the public, after being refurbished.

By Gary