In times gone by, travel was frequently easier by water than it was by land. The Humber was less of a barrier, more a highway for people and goods.
It is thought that Winteringham was first used as a port by the Romans - regardless of whether they had ferries to the opposite bank of the Humber or not. And by the time of
the Domesday Book in 1087, there is hard evidence that the village was served by a ferry.
St Etheldreda, it is claimed crossed the Humber here on her way to Ely (see bottom of page for more information on St Etheldreda), and in 1143 the village church saw a ceremony
confirming William de St Barbara as the Bishop of Durham when he was met at Winteringham by monks bearing the news as he was returning from attending a council in London. From these, we may assume that the
river crossing here was of some repute in early times.
Crossings were not always easy, and - according to the section on Winteringham in “Lincolnshire” - by Henry Thorold and Jack Yates - Andrew Marvell, the father of the
poet was in a boat which capsized, “shouting ‘Ho for Heaven’ as he jumped overboard with his walking stick.”
The Bell family was heavily involved with the ferries for many years, as shown by the probate inventories. Thomas Bell’s probate inventory (3rd November 1679) states that
he owned “Three boats with one kog [sic] boate with all things thereto belonging” worth £100. His namesake, Thomas Bell, whose probate inventory was exhibited on 12th July 1688, showed “two ferry boats with the lease of the ferry” valued
at £100-2-0, and George Bell’s probate inventory of 2nd May 1712 includes “Half of too [sic] ferry boats” valued at £50. In 1726, the probate inventory of Rebecca Bell showed that she
owned one half of the Winteringham ferry boat, at that time called the “Good Will”. Her half share in the boat was valued at £13.
The poet Henry Kirke White spent some time at the Rectory in 1804 to study under the learned Parson Grainger. He was involved in several escapades on ferries and other boats. Once on the return journey from Hull - the outward trip having gone exceeding well - he feared for his life as the boat was caught in eddying currents off Barton, and on another occasion was marooned for some time on one of the shifting sandbanks. Little wonder then that his best known hymn is “Oft in Danger, Oft in Woe!”
By 1724 when Dr Stukeley famously visited the village, the ferry service was operated, fortuitously perhaps, by the landlord of the ‘Ferry House Inn’ and there was a
regular ferry service to Hull in the early part of the nineteenth century.
By the time of the enclosures, the ferry was improved by better access as this handbill, printed by J Ferraby of Hull stated on 1st November 1796:
Winteringham Ferry Improved
A New Road to the FERRY, and other great Conveniences are now made for Passengers and Cattle.
A LARGE Boat will
sail every Day to BROUGH in Yorkshire ... and another Boat every day to HULL.
BOATS may be hired at the FERRY, to sail to any Part of the HUMBER
George Sargant, Ferryman,
Winteringham, 1st November 1796
By 1842 there were two ferries in operation carrying passengers as well as goods, in 1861 the Post Office Directory tells us that these two went to Hull on Tuesday and Friday, the
1868 version of the Directory adding that they were “principally for goods”.
Other ferry operators were (dates are those of the directory in whose pages these appear): Matthew Beacock (1885, 1889, 1896), Tom Barley (1905, to Hull Tuesday), Alfred Barley
(1909, to Hull, Tuesday), and the Barley Brothers (1919, to Hull Monday and 1926).
The ferry finally stopped in 1940, due to the ill-health of the proprietor, when a goods-only service operated from the Railway Wharf, outward to Hull on Monday and returning on
But Winteringham’s connections with the River were far more widespread than just a ferry port, as a quick look at Census returns show. These are the entries from the 1851
Census which have connections with boats and sailing:
Pauper, late sailor
Captain of a sloop
Owner of a sloop
Captain of a sloop
From the book ‘The Spurn Gravel Trade’ .... “From the gravel log books of Mrs. Watson we can garner some names of people involved in the gravel
trade at that time …… In the 1867 gravel log book…..Edward Barley of Winteringham……John Lord of Winteringham …. Took less than 1000 tons a year.”
Winteringham Haven in former times
For a larger version of this photograph, please click here
From the Peter Jamieson Collection
22 of the 217 men over 16 years of age were employed either on the water, or in owning or building boats.
The wharves on the Haven were chiefly for the shipment of corn, malt, coal and timber, and when the railway arrived in 1907, then slag, coal and
iron ore could be loaded on to boats from a pair of chutes.
The largest consignment to be moved from the Haven was, however, 75,000 tons of cement from the Eastwoods Humber Cement factory to Rosyth Naval
Base during World War II.
Just eight years after that mammoth transhipment, the last one was made from the Railway Wharf when 65 tons of slag from Lysaght’s
Steelworks was made on 21st May, 1948.
Left: The Railway Wharf Summer 1965
Among one of my early attempts at photography I have this black and white picture of the Haven at
Winteringham during 1966 showing the flood tides taken from the end of the bank where the buffers used to be
when the railway dock was in use looking down onto what we called Barleys dock with the boat `Alert` level with
the top of the dock. The picture was taken just before it sailed with a group of us for a days fishing of Cleethorpes
Anthony P Robinson
The winch on the Haven
Following a query from Flyer Robinson about Ken’s photo taken in 2008, Roy Shipp came up with this interesting information about the winch:
From what I remember it was dug out when the club put in the slipway. If you can remember before the cub started there, the old quayside had a
long timber beam. It was dug out from that area near the ditch that we used to jump across. What it was used for I don't know. It could have
been a winch for unloading cargo at low tides.