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A settlement known as Wyke had existed on the banks of the River Hull for hundreds of years prior to King Edward I acquiring lands in the area and creating his “Kingstown upon the River Hull” in 1293. Until this time the small settlement could only be reached by water and no roads led to or from Hull until the early years of the next century. It was at this time that the king ordered roads to be built to link his new town with the neighbouring towns and hamlets of Beverley, Hessle, Southcoates and the Viking settlement of Anlaby - “Anlaf’s Town”. For many years prior to the King creating the medieval new-town the only access overland was via the dangerous, and often impassable route, along the banks of the River Humber.
The town lay in a flood plain and these early roads were often prone to inundations from the River Humber; in an effort to improve the situation, and alleviate the floods, the road to “Anlaby” was raised by six feet in 1316. The new roads were initially 60 feet wide but by 1376 the Anlaby Road had been reduced to a width of 40 feet making it easier to maintain. The constant flooding over the following centuries made the road dangerous for travellers and required it to have constant, and often expensive, repairs. Consequently, in 1695 King William III ordered the area to be drained and the towns of Hessle and Anlaby were threatened with fines if the road was not found to be in better condition by the following winter.
Heavy usage led to constant expensive repairs, which became an unsustainable drain on the towns finances, and was the major factor which resulted in the road to Anlaby and Kirkella being “Turnpiked”. The turnpike route from the old town of Hull through Anlaby was not initially a direct one; the act of parliament which led to the creation of the turn-pike road in 1745 stated: -
From the point where the new road passed the town’s waterworks it became known as Carr Lane. “Carr” is an ancient word meaning marsh and Carr Lane may have been the earliest name for what became known as the Anlaby Road, and the small length now remaining commemorates this. The name Carr Lane illustrates that it led to the marsh lands to the west of Hull; Wold Carr was then a hamlet west of the town between what is now Spring Bank West and the Anlaby Road.
Although some Victorian historians suggested that Anlaby Road began at the junction with Park Street (see Travis Cook page 177), or Ocean Place, which was numbered beginning No.1 Anlaby Road, following the 1897 re-numbering of Anlaby Road, it is generally accepted that Anlaby Road as we know it begins at the west end of Carr Lane at its junction with Anne Street, and the much older South Street.
The turnpikes were an early form of road tax, requiring those who travelled on them to pay a toll to contribute to the repair and maintenance of the roads and to lessen the effect on the local rate payers. The tolls were collected at toll-bars, usually a gate or bar (the pike) with an accompanying cottage or house where the toll collector lived. Following the payment of a set charge, dependent on the vehicle or form of transport, the pike was turned and the traveller allowed to continue on his way. The gate on the Anlaby Road was known as the Wold Carr Toll Bar and was situated at a point that marked the municipal boundary, near the corner of what is now Walton Street. The turnpikes often served only to add to the problems faced by the road users; in February 1847 a waggoner driving along the Anlaby Road, passed the Eagle Tavern, near the corner of Coltman Street when his horse was startled by the rattle of a milk churn in a donkey cart, taking his wagon into the ditch that ran along the side of the road resulting in the waggoner and his horse being drowned.
Most turnpikes had been wound-up by the 1850s, following the arrival of the railways, and under the Highways Act of 1862 the cost of road maintenance was passed back to the local parishes. The Anlaby Road “turnpike gates” were still recorded in-situ as late as 1872 but were becoming a constant source of irritation, as with many other turnpiked roads, the toll-bars were found to hinder traffic and free movement as the town expanded westwards into the suburbs. More and more property was erected alongside the roads and the toll gates were becoming a source of constant complaints.
Hull’s population grew incredibly during the second half of the nineteenth century; in 1851 the population of the parliamentary borough of Hull was 84,690 and just 50 years later, in 1901, it had risen to 239,517. Property developers and businessmen were quick to capitalise on the boom. Farmland and open fields were sold along the outskirts of the town, and vast areas of new housing were developed to cope with the influx of new workers into the area. Industry had grown exponentially in Hull and land was also snapped-up for factories, mills, brickyards and any number of other businesses whose workers found homes in the new streets.
The Anlaby Road continued to be Hull’s main thoroughfare westwards (the Hessle Road was constructed much later, c.1826) and public transport began to show huge developments. Horse tramways were first used in Hull from 1872, and the Anlaby Road, then at the peak of its development, had acquired its first tram route following a trial run on 25 May 1877. The Hull Street Tramway Company had been formed in 1875 for the purpose of serving this part of the town with a reliable transport facility, and it was they who instituted the service, although drainage works delayed the opening of the route.
The first route ran from St Mathew’s Church, Boulevard to the Monument Bridge via the Anlaby Road, Midland Street, Osborne Street, Waterhouse Lane and St John Street. By 1881 travellers could ride from the pier to Walton Street for a penny, and further west as far as Wheeler Street, for another penny. The popularity of the service was such that traffic was increased on the Anlaby Road to a level of service that enabled a passenger travelling into the town to board a tram to the pier every ten minutes. Electrification replaced the horse powered vehicles in Hull from 1897 and the electric trams on the Anlaby Road were operational by 1899; the conversion had been hurried through in time for the Royal Agricultural Show, which was to take place on the Anlaby Road in that year. From 1902 the familiar “A” boards were fitted to the trams and were a familiar sight until being gradually replaced by numbered trolley buses between 1936 and 1945.