August 03, 2017

04/08/2017: Milling in Hull: part one

by Mildred Cookson, The Mills Archive, UK

The Flour Mills of Hull: “Fine Buildings Combined With Up-to-date Machinery” 

 
Milldred CooksonImage credit: The Mills Archive UK
In February this year the Mills Archive rescued several hundred files from the basement of the Hull architect practice of Gelder and Kitchen. More than 600 files on roller flourmills, along with thousands of others on civic, domestic and industrial buildings were threatened with imminent destruction.

The roller flourmill files each contain many architectural drawings outlining new mills or modifications to existing mills covering the UK throughout the 20th century. Sir Alfred Gelder did a great deal of work for his friend and fellow Methodist, Joseph Rank.

Much of what we salvaged relates to Rank flour mills, with the earliest, dating from 1890, concerning his Clarence Mills in Hull. In due course we will tell the full story on the Mills Archive website (millsarchive.org) but I thought it appropriate to write a short series about Rank’s flour mills and the picture of milling in Hull at the start of the 20th century.

Much of the information comes from my own files and from two articles in ‘Milling’ in June 1904. Hull, formally known as Kingston-upon-Hull, is on the River Hull as it enters the Humber estuary.
 
Clarence Street Mill - Rescued Plan of Offices,1896
Image credit: The Mills Archive UK

Development of port facilities in the nineteenth century on the River Hull had a major impact on milling companies: in 1837 the inward tonnage of grain was only 360,000 whereas by 1903 it had increased to 4,112,614 tonnes. This ten-fold increase was due to the opening of the Alexandra Dock, which was regarded as the finest dock at that time on the East Coast.

The importance of this milling centre increased when the Hull and Barnsley Railway and Dock Co revolutionised the history of the grain trade of Hull by collecting flour free of charge from the mills, in contrast to rival railway companies who continued charging.

In 1822 Hull had around thirty millers named and by 1904 none of these survived in the production of flour, but it is interesting to note that since 1884, when roller mills came into their own, the list is extensive.

The Rank name was by then standing out. In the 1860s and 70s James Rank was at Stepney Mills, and in 1875 Joseph Rank had taken over Mr Waddingham’s mill in Holderness Road. In 1879 James Rank died and Joseph Rank took over Stepney mills; he had by then also taken occupancy of West’s Mill on the Holderness Road.

The first roller flourmill erected in Hull was Groves Mills, but Joseph Rank was soon to follow. In 1888 he built a steel-roller plant on the banks of the River Hull, with capacity of 20 sacks per hour but with room to expand to 60, as well as the first discharging elevator in the country and a silo of 20,000 quarters capacity.


The great Clarence Mills of Messrs Joseph Rank were built in 1891 and had the distinction of being the largest on the East Coast. They were situated in the centre of the city on the East bank of the River Hull close by to a swing bridge, about half a mile from where the river enters the Humber.

Read the full article, HERE.
 

The Global Miller
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