Crossing the Humber estuary
A For thousands of years, the Humber – an estuary formed Where two major rivers, the Trent and the Ouse, meet – has been an obstacle to communications along the east coast of England, between the counties of Yorkshire to the north and Lincolnshire to the south.
Before the arrival of the railways in the 19th century, water transportation was the most efficient means of moving heavy or bulk freight, and the Humber, situated at the heart of the waterway system associated with the two major rivers, was one of the chief highways of England. Its traffic brought prosperity to the settlements on its banks, particularly the city of Hull on its north bank, but the river itself tended to cut them off from some of their closest neighbours, as well as obstructing the progress of travellers moving north or south.
B To cater for these local and, as time progressed, wider needs, ferries were provided across many of the streams flowing into the Humber, and in 1315, a ferry was established across the Humber itself between Hull and Lincolnshire. By 1800, this ferry had become fully integrated into the overland transport system, but the changes associated with the industrial revolution were soon to threaten its position. Increased traffic encouraged speculators to establish rival ferries between Hull and Lincolnshire, notably a service between Hull and New Holland which opened in 1826. This crossing was considerably shorter than on the existing Hull to Barton service, which closed in 1851, unable to cope with the increased competition from the rival service.
The New Holland ferry service then grew into a major link between the north and south banks of the Humber, carrying passengers, and cattle and goods bound for Hull Market. In 1968, there was briefly a ferry service from Grimsby to Hull involving hovercrafts. This did not last long as the hovercrafts could not cope with the demands of the River Humber. The ferry service between Hull and New Holland ended with the opening of the Humber Bridge in 1981.