Alec Gill captures 30 years of Hessle Road’s history

Monday 5 June 2017

Alec Gill captures 30 years of Hessle Road’s history

The Hessle Roaders, an exhibition of 100 photographs by local historian Dr Alec Gill, can now be viewed at Hull History Centre.

Spanning a period of thirty years, these wonderful black and white images show the fishing community of Hessle Road.

When we say community, we truly mean it. Whilst there’s the occasional image showing a trawler and its catch, the vast majority of these images depict children, shops, pubs, washerwomen and even household pets.


One shot, called Seven Easy Riders, Gordon Street, shows motorcycling “heavies” in 1979. The lads are happy and smiling with their long hair and impressive vehicles, perhaps ready to embark on a ride down Hessle Road itself.


The beauty of this exhibition is that it shows every side of the community. Some may seem romantic from a 21st century perspective, such as the happy couple who owned the thrift shop on Woodcock Street.


Meanwhile, others document the backbreaking work that went into what must quite frankly have been a very unattractive job.


Each image gives a peek into the Hessle Road spirit and character. From young women standing outside Subway Taxis, with its proud claim of 24-hour service, to little lads playing with toy guns.



Alec Gill was a young man during this time, walking the streets that branch off Hessle Road with camera hanging around his neck. A friendly and confident man, he clearly had no trouble convincing people to pose for a photo.

Hessle Road is still an interesting area with a strong identity. However, during the early and mid 20th century is was where the trawlermen and their families lived, as well as many warehouse and factory workers. The result was a large neighbourhood that underwent enormous social change when the fishing trade fell through.


Whilst the exhibition displays 100 brilliant images, the full collection is much larger. Over the years, Alec took a staggering 6,600 snaps of his home, eternalising a way of life that disappeared along with the industry that created it.


Speaking to a member of staff, we were told that the exhibition has had a phenomenal response since the day it opened. People simply can’t wait to see these fascinating images, which take up the entire display area as you enter the building.

However, due to a smart and simple layout, it’s easy to get around the exhibition even if it’s extremely busy, with the foyer presenting lots of natural light and free movement. You can even grab a coffee and a snack from the refreshment bar.

The Hessle Roaders: Hull’s Fishing Community is free to view at Hull History Centre. It runs until Thursday 29 June and really is worth a visit.

With 2017 being Hull’s year as the UK City of Culture, this is the perfect opportunity to better understand how it got to where it is today.