This collection contains records relating to various people, companies and interests. U DX84/1-12 are papers relating to George Henry Hall, including letters to and from Hall. U DX84/13 is a transcript of recollections by Edward R. Pease, one of the founding members of the Fabian Society. U DX84/14-17 and U DX84/26 and U DX84/29, relate to Hull Dock Company, the first statutory dock company in Britain. U DX84/18-19 are records relating to Frederick Messer and the Victory for Socialism Group. U DX84/21-25 include files relating to economic surveys and schemes in Hull and U DX84/33 is a handwritten transcript of the stock accounts of Thomas Reckitt (including some wage accounts) between 1781 and 1810. There are also a few miscellaneous records including two copies of the Rockingham and Hull Weekly Advertiser; a list of British firms in the Middle East between 1800 and 1950; newspaper cuttings about the Hull Sunday Association; a drawing of ship owner Thomas Wilson and a letter, dated 1923, about the teaching at LSE which mentions Harold Laski.
Items donated by Dr Joyce Bellamy
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
The Hull Dock Company was created in 1773 through the joint efforts of the Hull Corporation, Hull Trinity House and Hull merchants. It was the first statutory dock company in Britain. The company was granted land containing Hull's city walls by the Crown and in 1774 construction began on Hull's first dock (the Old Dock later Queen's Dock). Between 1809 and 1829 two further docks were constructed Humber Dock and Junction Dock (later Prince's Dock). These three docks became known as the Town Docks. The Railway Dock was built in 1846 as an extension of the Town Docks and Victoria Dock, the first dock to be built east of the River Hull, was constructed between 1845 and 1850.
With rivalry from the new West Dock Company, established in 1860, the Dock Company proposed a larger dock at the same position suggested by the West Dock Company and ultimately won the right to build the new dock on the Humber foreshore to the west of the River Hull. This dock was initially known as Western Dock, but when it was opened in 1869 was named Albert Dock. An extension to Albert Dock, William Wright Dock, was opened in 1880. Another dock, St Andrew's Dock, was built in the same area in 1883.
Alexandra Dock was opened in 1885 and operated by the Hull Barnsley and West Riding Junction Railway and Dock Company. Consequently, the Hull Dock Company no longer had a monopoly on the docks in Hull and a price war between the two companies broke out. Eventually the Hull Dock Company was operating at a loss and in 1886 sought to merge into the North Eastern Railway, which it did in 1891. King George Dock was completed in 1914 as a joint enterprise between the North Eastern Railway and Hull and Barnsley Railway.
Edward Reynolds Pease, born on 23 December 1857, was an English writer and a founding member of the Fabian Society. He was a successful stock-broker in London and in the 1880s became friends with Frank Podmore, Edith Nesbit and Hubert Bland with whom he founded the Fabian Society in 1884.
After receiving a sizeable inheritance in 1886, Pease gave up work at the London Stock Exchange and devoted his time to his socialist interests. In 1890 Pease was appointed secretary of the Fabian Society and also edited the Fabian News. With Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Pease was a trustee of the fund used to found the London School of Economics (LSE) in 1895.
Pease was also a member of the Independent Labour Party and in February 1900 was present at the meeting when the Labour Representation Committee (the forerunner to the Labour Party) was established and to which Pease was elected. Pease created the East Surrey Labour Party with his wife and they both served on the local council. Their home at Limpsfield became known as 'Dostoevsky Corner', because of the many Russian refugees they housed who had been forced to leave their country due to their socialist beliefs. He died on 5 January 1955.
Fred Messer was born on 12 May 1886 in London, the son of a Poor Law officer and workhouse master. Messer suffered from a spinal disability which worsened in later years but did not prevent him from leading an active life. His mother died when he was only young and soon after he started working in a factory, training to be a French polisher. Messer became interested in trade union affairs and went on to join the French Polishers' Union. He led several strikes during the First World War and was on the union's executive for six years.
After the war, Messer became vice-chairman of the Industrial Orthopaedic Society, and this association heralded the beginning of a lifelong interest in hospitals. In 1925 he became southern area organiser for the Manor House Hospital, a position he held until his election to Parliament in 1929. Actively interested in Labour politics since 1906, Messer became chairman of the South Tottenham Labour Party in 1920 and became involved in several different areas of local government. Messer was also a very active Christian, attending Etherley Road Mission in Tottenham where he regularly preached. He was a staunch pacifist and did not register for, and managed to avoid, war service in the First World War. He later became a committed supporter of the No More War Movement.
Messer won the South Tottenham seat in the general election of 1929 but lost it in 1931. He was re-elected Labour MP in 1935. During the interim he had acted as Labour Party propagandist. In 1950 he became the MP for Tottenham and held the seat until he retired in 1959.
During the Second World War Messer's son, Eric, became a member of the Committee against Race Hatred and later, the Victory for Socialism Group (VSG). Fred Messer supported both groups. The VSG organised several national conferences but were treated with suspicion by the Labour Party which condemned the VSG on the basis that it constituted an unofficial group within the Party and that the authority of the Party executive was being usurped. In the mid-1950s Fred Messer was elected president of the VSG.
Messer was influential in obtaining concessions for conscientious objectors in the Military Training Bill of 1939 and between 1944 and 1945 he acted as parliamentary private secretary to the Minister of Labour, Ernest Bevin. He took a key part in the debates on the National Health Service Bill (1946) and in 1948 was appointed chairman of the Central Health Services Council which was created by the Labour Government to advise on health issues. Messer also held various positions on committees and boards for hospitals and other health associations.
He received a CBE in 1949 and was knighted in 1953. In 1955 he also received the Freedom of the Borough of Tottenham. Fred Messer died on 8 May 1971.
George Henry Hall was born on 31 December 1881 in Penrhiwceiber, Glamorgan. At age twelve, he began working at the local colliery. When he was twenty-one he was involved in a serious accident at the colliery and was confined to bed for the next thirteen months. During this time he considered entering the Church, influenced by the regular visits of the local vicar, but later chose politics.
Hall became the first Labour member for the Penrhiwceiber ward of the Mountain Ash District Council and in 1911 he was elected as checkweighman at Penrikyber Colliery. He became chairman of the Merthyr Tydfil Labour Party and won the seat for Merthyr Tydfil in the general election of 1922. Hall represented the constituency for the next twenty-four years.
In 1929 he was appointed Civil Lord of the Admiralty. After the resignation of the Labour Government in August 1931 and the following general election, Hall became a member of the greatly reduced Parliamentary Labour Party. He was appointed Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Churchill Government of Spring 1940 and in 1942 was given the office of financial secretary to the Admiralty. Later in 1942, Hall was made a Privy Councillor.
In 1943, Hall was made Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and developed a close friendship with Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary. After the return of a Labour Government in 1945, Hall became a member of the Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Colonies. He produced proposals for reforms but was prevented from seeing his plans implemented as he was persuaded by Prime Minister Attlee to accept a peerage. The Lords were in need of experienced Labour spokesmen and Hall became Viscount Hall of Cynon Valley. In October 1946 he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty and became deputy-leader of the House of Lords in 1947. He held both these positions until he retired in 1951. After his retirement from Parliament he became involved in several businesses in Wales, including becoming a director of Aberdare Cables Ltd. George Hall died in Leicester on 9 November 1965.
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Donated by Dr Joyce Bellamy, Department of Economic and Social History, University of Hull, 1973 [U DX84/1-13], Jan 1976 [U DX84/14-17], Feb 1980 [U DX84/18-19], Oct 1989 [U DX84/20-25] and Feb 1990 [U DX84/26-31]