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Memory on the waterfront in late twentieth-century Hull

Byrne, Jo; Ombler, Alex


Jo Byrne

Alex Ombler


David J. Starkey

Sarah McKeon

Elisabeth Salter


First paragraph:
At the close of the Second World War, as the port-city of Hull faced the challenge of rebuilding an urban fabric shattered by wartime bombing, its maritime industries prepared to return to business as usual. Hull’s trawl fishery and commercial docks had both been disrupted by the years of conflict and now, in line with Britain’s maritime sector, Hull companies were keen to get things back to normal. In the west of the city, as Britain enjoyed a post-war golden age of rising wages and full employment, Hull’s distant-water trawl fishery experienced a boom. Reduced fishing effort during the war years had allowed fish stocks to recover and with the nation still facing food shortages, supplies of non-rationed fish were in demand. Yet by the mid-1950s the boom was proving transitory, as overfishing, changing consumer preferences and most significantly, shifts in international policy, sent ripples into the semblance of calm. Meanwhile, away from the fish quay, cracks were more immediately apparent in the city’s extensive commercial docklands. The huge post-war growth of the international economy had increased seaborne trade, stimulating demand for shipping and port services. However, like other large British ports, post-1945 operations at Hull were marred by out-dated cargo handling practices, a dire need of capital investment in new facilities and ongoing industrial unrest. In the decades that followed, waves of legislation, reforming policy and disruptive technologies changed established practises irreversibly. Accordingly, along Hull’s expansive waterfront, the late twentieth century saw the breakdown of structures and rhythms that had once seemed immutable. For those caught up in the transition, old certainties would come to an end.


Byrne, J., & Ombler, A. (2017). Memory on the waterfront in late twentieth-century Hull. In D. J. Starkey, D. Atkinson, B. McDonagh, S. McKeon, & E. Salter (Eds.), Hull: Culture, History, Place (270-301). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press

Publication Date May 18, 2017
Deposit Date Dec 12, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 1, 2023
Publisher Liverpool University Press
Pages 270-301
Book Title Hull: Culture, History, Place
Chapter Number 10
ISBN 9781781384190
Public URL
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Copyright Statement
© Liverpool University Press. Reproduced with permission of the publisher and the authors.
This copy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

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