For such a small area of Hull, Victoria Dock has a fascinating history. If you were here one thousand years ago you would have been in deep water, for the place that is now Hull lay in a deep tidal hollow.
Sayer de Sutton, lord of the manor at Sutton decided to change the course of the River Hull, to better drain his lands to the north. The silt which was carried down by this new channel rapidly built up into land at its mouth. A tiny hamlet developed here from a wool gathering point into a small town that took the name Wyke (Scandinavian for 'Vik' meaning a small creek). This is what the town was called when King Edward I discovered it whilst on a hunting trip in East Yorkshire in September 1292. He decided that it would become a "King's Town", a strategic port of supply for his campaigns against the Scots.
In 1356 the fortified brick walls surrounding Hull were completed but there were no defences at the east side of the river. So in 1378 a tower was built on the east bank of the River Hull enabling a chain to be floated across the river mouth to deter enemy shipping. In 1542 King Henry VIII visited Hull and thought the defences woeful and so commanded that a wall be built along the east bank of the River Hull to help defend the city. In 1642, the Governor of Hull refused entry into the city to King Charles I and so began the English Civil War. Once King Charles II was restored to the monarchy, he ordered a huge Citadel to be built at Drypool, which was completed in 1685.
In July 1850, Victoria Dock was opened. It was the first dock to be built to the east of the River Hull and in 1851 the Earle Bothers began to lay out their shipyard on Victoria Dock. Their first ship named "Dido", was launched into the dock in 1853. They launched almost 700 ships from their yard until the yard closed in 1931. In 1854 the railway came to Victoria Dock when the Hull and Holderness Railway Co. opened the Hull to Withernsea line. In 1864 the Citadel was demolished and the following year the south bridge, known as the Ha'penny Bridge was opened to allow workers easier access to the new Victoria Dock. It closed in 1934 and was removed in 1944.
Victoria Dock closed in 1970 and the dock land lay disused until 1987, when it was purchased by Hull City Council. In 1988 Bellway began the ground works for the development of Victoria Dock Village. In 1999 the new primary school was built and became the first Private Finance Initiative School to be built in the United Kingdom. You can follow the story in greater detail by doing the twenty stop, self-guided, Victoria Dock Trail, which also has an expanded guidebook to help you understand where we came from.