Humber  Yorkshire


In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Humber like this:

HUMBER (THE), the estuary of the rivers Ouse and Trent, between Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. It is the Abus of Ptolemy, and the Humbruea of the Saxons. It commences, at the confluence of the Ouse and the Trent, with a width of about a mile; goes eastward to Paull, on its N bank, with a width varying from 1¼ to 2½ miles; proceeds southeastward to Great Grimsby on its S bank, with a width increasing to about 3¾ miles; makes then an expansion on its N side, giving an extreme width of 7¼ miles; and terminates at Spurn Head, in the same south-easterly direction as from Paull, with a width, as measured from different headlands on the S side of 5½ and 7½ miles. ...

Its length, from the head to Paull, is 18½ miles; and from Paull to Spurn Head 17¾ miles. Its depth, for the most part, is from 2 to 12 fathoms. It receives the rivers Foulness and Hull, and some smaller streams; and it is computed to drain about 10, 000 square miles. It forms the marine outlet to a vast extent of inland navigation by river and canal, ramified through Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and the counties to the W of them, and communicating across England, with the Ribble, the Mersey, the Dee, the Severn, the Avon, and the Thames. It has, on the N side, the great port of Hull; and on the S side, the ports of Barton, New Holland, and Great Grimsby. It is, to some extent, obstructed, on the N side, by Holme Sand, Sunk lsland, Cherry Cob and Hawke Sands, and Stoneybinks shoal; and on the S side, by Sandhale shoal. The navigation of it is aided, on the N side, by the Ball and New Sand ship lights, the Spurn Head light, the Paull light, and Hebbler ship light; and on the S side, by Cleaness beacon, Donna-Nook beacon, and Killingholme lights. Much change, within the epoch of record, has occurred on the lower parts of its N shore; great portions of land there having been swept away by the sea, and some portions of sea bottom having been converted into land by depositions of silt. The Danish pirates under Ubba sailed up it in 867; those under Sweyn, in 1013; those under Osborn, in 1069; and Harold Harfager and his northmen, in 1066. A project was formed in 1865 to construct a railway bridge across the Humber, from Hessle to Barton, built on piers and about a mile long, with land approaches consisting of arched viaducts about ¾ of a mile long.

Humber through time

Humber is now part of Kingston upon Hull district. Click here for graphs and data of how Kingston upon Hull has changed over two centuries. For statistics about Humber itself, go to Units and Statistics.

How to reference this page:

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Humber, in Kingston upon Hull and Yorkshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.


Date accessed: 06th December 2019

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