Monthly Archives: May 2021

Views of the Humber 10.

The last of the four sections of John Scott’s navigational map (1734) of the Humber Estuary shows the top part of mouth of the Estuary, The map extending as far south as ‘Donner Ness’ (now Donna Nook) on the Lincolnshire coast just east of the village of ‘North Sommer Coates’ (now North Somercotes). This raises the question as to where the mouth of the Estuary ends and the sea coastline begins again, this issue being debated for a number of estuary mouth areas. Certainly this part of the north Lincolnshire coast is directly impacted by the Estuary in that large quantities of eroded material from the Holderness coast, rather than being swept into the Estuary itself on flow tides, is deposited along the coast between Humberston and North Sommercotes on ebb tides, thus creating vast mudflats along this lowland coast. Again, Scott’s recording of depths in fathoms emphasises the problems of navigating the Estuary, a depth of 13 fathoms recorded south of Spurn Point but even in the narrow main channel that decreasing to eight and nine fathoms off Grimsby and further west.
Again, Scott names the mudflats, and there is no doubt that the configuration of mudflats in the lower Humber has been more stable than that of such hazards to navigation in the upper Humber.
The phrase ‘Stonie Bank’ on an apparent mudflat immediatly south of ‘Spurn’ is interesting. Two centuies later than the production of this map keels and sloops sailed to this part of the Estuary mouth, settled onto solid ground at low tide and stones/gravel were shovelled into the hold of the boats which re-floated on the tide and carried home their cargo, perhaps used in the making of concrete, perhaps to fill pot-holes in the roads or, maybe, for the making of gravel paths.
Finally, in the bottom right-hand corner of the map is written ‘Engraved and printed by J. Hilbert HULL’.

Views of the Humber 9.

This third extract from Scott’s 18th century navigational map shows the area of the lower Humber Estuary between Grimsby on the south bank and Easington on the north. It shows the then Sunk Island to be an inhabited island surrounded by vast mudflats at low tide with a shallow but navigable channel (drawing of a ship) up to Patrington Haven (port). Today virtually all the area shown as mudflats adjacent to the north bank is now reclaimed land and intensively farmed, the drain leading from Patrington Haven now a drainage channel.
Where the deep-water channel rubbed-up against the south bank (left edge of extract and see channel depths in fathoms) is where the port of Immingham was developed in the early 20th century it being in a very similar site to the port of Hull vis-a-vis the deep-water channel. The forerunner of Cleethorpes was a mooring for fishing boats some way from the heart of the historic village of Clee.
All the churches shown here and elsewhere on Scoot’s map are discussed in the context of historic aids to navigation in my extended article ‘Landmarks and Beacons’ – see Section 3 of this website.

Views of the Humber 8.

Another view from the same point as two blogs back, view north-north-east across the Estuary to the southern Yorkshire Wolds beyond. The farm-house and buildings centre known as ‘Poor Farm’, not because of the poverty of the farmer but rather because it was owned by the Bluecoat Charity, an old charity which provided accommodation for poor children who were required to wear a blue-coloured uniform (see any information on the Charity in Beverley).
Just visible centre-right is North Ferriby cliff, a section of the Humber bank made of unconsolidated boulder clay easily eroded by under-cutting by spring tides. South Ferriby cliff is of the same composition and, before obliterated by marine erosion, was the site of a Romano-British settlement, probably the site of the south-bank ferry docking point from Bronze Age onwards (this an assumption based on the findings from the ‘Ferriby (North) boats). Clearly, if not the remains of a terminal moraine, this post glacial deposition feature once extended well out into the Estuary we see today.
In the distance Melton chalk quarry still, I think, excavated today. On the south bank to the right of the above scene are two adjacent Chalk quarries (no longer worked), the narrower of the two excavated to supply rock to the cement works that once existed on the Humber bank. To the left of the above scene Leggett’s quarry, just into South Ferriby parish, again no longer worked. My article on the history of the cement works is not yet uplifted to this website, details on the chalk quarries can be found in my extended illustrated essay entitled ‘Simplified Geology of the Humber region’ in section three of this website.
Centre-left the built expansion east of Brough and the expanding trading complex at Melton, like a maurauding horde threatening the exclusivity of North Ferriby from the west!

Views of the Humber 7.

Today’s blog picture shows the middle reaches of the Humber Estuary as represented on Scott’s map of 1734. If just two references are used to define the Humber – upper and lower – then Hull is the dividing point. Shown clearly is the ‘dog-leg bend in the Estuary, this an unusual feature which I am pretty sure I have written about before, most estuaries are ‘trumpet shaped’. The depth in fathoms figures clearly show the importance of ‘Hull Roads’ (s.p.b.s), this a result of the ‘dog-leg’ configuration.
The map clearly shows Hull still confined in its medieval town walls, but by 1734 also defended by the Citadel in the parish of Drypool. Incidentally, also shown is the fact that immediately below the southern section of the town walls was the foreshore, land south of Humber St. today was to be subsequently reclaimed, whereas the projection on the east side of the mouth of the River Hull, later to be known as ‘Sammy’s Point’, did then exist. Also shown is that then (1734) the Charterhouse almshouses,in the parish of Sculcoates were well out of the town. Up to the Reformation this had been the site of the Carthusian monastery established by Michael De la Pole (s.p.b.s on monastic history).
The huge mudflat shown on Scott’s map as ‘Skitter Ness’ does not have an exact equivalent today although the inside of a meander, here the ‘dog-leg’ in the Humber, would be slower flowing water than on the outside and therefore more prone to deposition of silt.
A couple of observations about the Paull area (centre-right). Scott’s map shows two parallel rows of symbols which I assume to be cottages, the village, as today, detached from the church. Secondly, south-east of Paull church is a house-like building attached to a tower-like building. Today just the tower survives on Holme Hill, a listed building, I believe, but on private land.

Views of the Humber 6.

Following on from the last blog (extract of the upper-Estuary from Scott’s map of the Humber Estuary) today’s view looking west-north-west, shows most of the upper Estuary, not quite to Trent Falls, as seen from the west end of Westfield Road in the parish of Barton on Humber. The hedgerow crossing left to right forms the parish boundary between Barton and South Ferriby and on this side of that hedgerow archaeologists have discovered traces of a Romano-British ladder settlement. The field in the foreground was, until a few years ago, arable but then sown with grass and resulting in a ‘sheep grazing scene’ such as would have been the characteristic scene along both banks of the Humber in the Middle Ages and early modern eras.
Across on the north bank of the Estuary can be seen the lower scarp slope of the Yorkshire Wolds (on the right) with South Cave, North Cave and Hothom as spring-line settlements (not visible), the lowland plain of the south-east section of the Vale of York stretching away, this area traditionally known as Wallingfen.
The mudflats just visible are evidence that the upper-Humber is a difficult to navigate waterway, this confirming the evidence from Scott’s map (s.p.b.). On average once a month the ports authority survey the bed of the upper and middle-Humber to provide evidence for ship’s pilots navigating up to Goole or York or to ports down the River Trent. With the hazards to navigation being mudflats it is not so much the dangers associated with rocky coastlines but the danger of running aground, getting stuck and, if not freed on the next few tides, eventually the ship ‘breaking its back’. An inventory of ships ‘lost’ in the upper and middle-Humber is displayed on an information board at Brough Haven.

Views of the Humber 5.

For today’s blog, and returning to the above theme, am showing an extract from John Scott’s navigational map of the Humber Estuary printed in 1734. Three or four further extracts will follow.
This section of Scott’s map shows the ‘upper’ Estuary (landward end). Scott’s navigational map was the earliest one to show details of the upper Estuary as well as the ‘lower’ (seaward end), this reflecting the focus on the port of Hull after the demise of the ports of Barton, Hedon and Ravenser Odd (lost to marine erosion) and before the creation of Goole Docks in the 1820s. Scott uses contemporary spelling for place-names and is reasonably accurate in his representations of the parish churches at that time.
Scott showed the ‘sands’ (mudflats), knowledge of which was essential to successful navigation, and names them in a key – a, on the left is ‘Ouse sand’, c is Whitton sand (still so today), f is ‘Oysterness sand’, d is Winteringham sand, e is ‘Paut sand’, h is ‘Old Warp sand’ and j is ‘Sudden Pye sand’.
It is clear from modern experience that mudflats grow and decline in all sorts of locations along the Estuary so, to an extent, Scott is only showing the situation as it was in the early 1730s. Some, however, seem to have been static over time, Whitton sands for example.
Besum Cross(?), bottom left, defines the point at which the River Don had once flowed into the head of the Humber.
The dotted line in the Estuary shows the best deep water channel for navigation, as in the 1730s. The three numbers below Old Warp sands shows the depth in fathoms in that channel.
Clearly a map such as this must have been surveyed across a period of time. The sands would have been visible at low tides, preferably spring tides, while a plumb-line could have been used to calibrate depths.