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Friday, 28 November 2014

Fact 47. Railway Dock was the first in Hull to have direct rail access.

Junction had been opened in 1829 completing a ring of docks around the centre of Hull. The Old Dock was first accessed from the River Hull. Then came Humber Dock with a lock into the estuary and then Junction Dock that linked the other two and completed the circle. However trade was still increasing and with threats from Goole, Selby and other inland ports more accommodation had to be made. The next project was a branch dock off Humber Dock and was to be the smallest of the Town Docks. The Bill passed in the Houses of Parliament in 1844. This same Bill provided for the building of a dock to the east of the city also.

The engineer was J.B. Hartley who was the son of the builder of many of the Liverpool Docks and the first full time professional dock engineer in the world. The original plan was extended and the finished dock was 218 x 50m and extended to the west from Humber Dock. The build cost was £106,000. The main purpose of the dock was to act as a transhipment base for cargoes to and from the new railway system. Many warehouse were built around the Dock.
About 1905 showing the warehouses on the south side of Railway Dock.

The Hull and Selby Railway had been completed in 1840 with the terminus station being just to the south of Railway Dock and fronting on Humber Dock It was called Manor House Street Station. By 1845 they built lines to join with the new Railway Dock makinbg it the first in Hull to have direct connections with the railway system. The lines were also extended to Humber Dock.

In 1968 Railway Dock, along with the other Town Docks, were closed. The Old Dock, by then called Queens Dock after a visit by Queen Victoria had been filled in. The Hull Corporation bought the docks for around £500,000 and Railway and Humber Dock became the Hull Marina with berths for about 270 opened in 1984 

Railway Dock about 1970 after it had closed. You can see that a middle section of the warehouses had already been demolished. This main block was also to be taken down later.

The view of Railway Dock from the Holiday Inn Hotel that was built on the north side of the dock. The warehouse opposite in Warehouse 13 and houses apartments and restaurants and is the only survivor of the warehouse and can be seen as the tall three ridge warehouse in the middle of the first picture.

Rail Tracks still visible on Kingston Street that runs to the south and parallel to Railway Dock.

This is the entrance to Railway Dock from Humber Dock. This is one half of the bridge that carried rail lines to the north side of the dock. there is a mirror image of it on this side and they meet in the middle.

Just to the south of the last photograph on Railway Street are these refurbished lines and turntable. The trucks would have been moved about the system by hand or horse I suspect. The boats are in Humber Dock and Railway Dock entrance is top left of the picture. Manor House Street station would have been facing Humber Dock further to the right of this picture.

The Town Docks delineate the centre of Hull as surely as the old City Walls did in there day. The docks give the character to the city centre and the two docks making up the Hull marina and the waterfront are a popular venue for walks and concerts and the Shanty weekend. The area is to become even more busy and desirable once the Fruit Market are is developed to the east of these docks. I real draw for visitors to the city by City of Culture 2017 we hope.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Fact 46. Earle's Ship Shipbuilders were world beaters.

Charles and William Earle were millwrights, founders and general smiths before they bought the business of James Livingston, Junction Foundry in Waterhouse Lane in 1845. They were the sons of Thomas Earle who, with his brother George left York to set up a cement company at Wilmington in Hull. James Livingston also was a ship wright and had made his first steam packet boat in 1831 and launched from a site on the Humber Bank. Charles and William saw a good opportunity as up until then shipbuilders had concentrated on wooden whalers and sailing vessels but an iron hulled steam driven vessel opened new markets. The Company was by 1851 employed 72 but still hadn't built a ship so must have been continuing their old work and tended for work for the Hull Baths and Wash house Committee that they didn't win.

The first ship was launched in 1853 and was called 'Minister Thorbecke' for the Zwolle Shipping company for the run between Hull and Zwolle. It was named after the Dutch Prime Minister. It was driven by a propeller by twin 30HP compound steam engines and was 148' x 22' x 10' and 220 nett tons and 300 gross tons. In 1861 the yard had a fire and they decided to move to 26 acres of leased land to the east of Victoria Dock that had opened in 1850 with frontage onto the Humber. In 1863 they bought another 47 acres next to the rest of the land. They were doing so well that by 1865 they were the second largest shipbuilder in the country having built nine ships totaling 9514 tons. (The largest was Samuelson's of Sammy's point in Hull who had built eleven ships).

Sir Edward Reed had been appointed the Chief Constructor to the Royal Navy in 1863. He was knighted in 1868 and became Managing Director of Earle's Shipbuilding and engineering Co in 1871 and oversaw the move into naval and foreign naval contracts. He doesn't look like somebody to suffer fools.

In 1871 Charles suddenly dies and William was in poor health so it was decided that the company would be taken over by a consortium of the shareholders and the company became known as Earle's Shipbuilding and Engineering Company. Edward Reed was appointed as Managing Director. He had been a Naval Architect for the Admiralty previously. Whilst initially this contact with the Royal Navy paid dividends it soon soured when the Admiralty stopped having ships built at Earle's as Reed had technical differences with them. They did however build two steam Yachts for the Russian Czar Alexander III, and auxillary sailing yacht for the Duke of Marlborough, and ironclad barques for the Chilean Navy. Reed had stood as a Liberal for a Hull constituency  and had lost but in 1874 he stood in Pembroke and gained his seat. He resigned from Earle's in the same year. He had lived in Kirkella House in Kirkella to the eat of Hull and Czar Alexander had stayed there when he visited to choose fixtures and fittings for his vessels.

Russian Imperial Yacht Tsarevna.

 Also at this time Earle's built the 'Bessemer' which was an attempt by it's designer Henry Bessemer to prevent seasickness (from which he suffered badly). The rolling was to be stopped by mounting an internal structure on gimbals and the pitching reduced by hydraulic rams operated by a person watching a spirit level. The vessel only made two voyages and only one with passengers. The first time it collided with the jetty at Calais and the second time, with passengers, the mechanism was locked and this time it collided twice. It remained in Dover until being scrapped in 1879. Edward Reed bought the suspended saloon and installed it at his house in Swanly as a billiard room. When the house became a college it became a lecture theatre. Unfortunately it was lost due to a direct hit in WWII. Following his resignation several ships were built for the Royal navy and the 'Kongo' which was the first ship for the new modernised Japanese Navy.

In 1880 Earles started building steel ships, the first being 'Gitano' for Wilson's of Hull. A sister ship had been built in iron, but following this trial Wilson's built all their ships of steel. They were also early adopters of triple expansion engines. Once more with Wilson Line they built sister ships, one with a compound steam engine and one with a triple expansion engine. After a round trip to the east they found that the later had saved 20% on fuel and was also 6% faster. By 1885 the yard had built 286 ships and were employing between 2 and 3000 workers. Two barges were built of iron in 1890 and then all future ships were of steel.

Earle's shipyard by the Humber in 1887.

Competition became very fierce and the yard was in financial straits. Only five ships were completed in 1896 and none in 1897 and three in 1898. In that year they built their longest ship so far, the 'Cleopatra' at 482 feet. It was for Wilson's run from London to New York and Boston. She was lost of The Lizard in the same year. By 1900 the shareholders had given up and gone into voluntary liquidation.  Charles Wilson the Hull ship owner (see fact 4) and bought the company for £170,000 on Christmas Eve 1901. That is about £14 million today. No expense was spared in rebuilding the site and equipment and electricity was used to power all equipment and this total rebuild was to give them an edge in profits in the future. Still no building was carried out until 1903 and perhaps the first job was the building of a lifeboat for the Humber conservancy that was to be stationed at Spurn Point. In 1904 they built a 'flat pack' boat, the Inca, for a ferry in Peru where it was reassembled. In 1907 they built the 'Buffalo' which was the largest tonnage shiop built at 5000 grt. The yard was kept quite busy during WWI and afterwards they built many steam trawlers and tugs but by the 1930's the order books were very thin. The Great Depression had caused many yards to reach the brink and the Government  stepped in with a sponsored rationalisation of the industry. In 1932 the National Ship Builders Security acquired the business and set about dismantling it. A large proportion of the equipment was packaged off and sent to the Kowloon ship yard in Hong Kong.
In total Earle's built 682 vessel and about 130 of these were for  Wilson Line Companies.

The west side of Earle's Shipyard in 1924.

The east end of the yard shown in 1931.

The yard is no more although there is an inlet at the end of the promenade on the river front of New Victoria Dock Village that once used to be part of the slipways of the yard. Earle's Road still leads down to an industrial estate that boarders the old yard and is next to where Siemens will be shortly constructing windmills for offshore turbine farms. It is a shame that such a great company can not be remembered in a better way, perhaps with a sculpture or design that incorporates the giant hammerhead crane that dominated the Humber north shore for so many years.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Fact 45. The Lion of Hull was Sir Leo Shultz, OBE.

Joseph Leopold Shultk was born in 1900 to Polish Immigrant parents. His father Solomon had come over in around 1880. His mother was a Hiller. They eventually had a pawnbrokers shop on Holderness Road.

Leo was recognised as a boy genius when he attended Craven Street School. He obviously had already started on the road of helping others too as there is a story that he gave his boots to another lad as he didn't have any. But like all boys he got up to mischief and using the school's chemistry labs he developed an explosive cocktail that when placed on the nearby trams lines went off with sufficient force to derail the front of the passing tram!

Perhaps Leo's socialist leanings were cemented when at 15 he sat for a scholarship to Oxford University. The Hull Education Authority had one to award every year. Leo came first and was given two expensively bound and inscribed works of literature. However he was advised that a 'boy like you can not live and work in Oxford' and the prize was awarded to the second placed lad. It is said that he was the son of the Chief Education Officer. It was suggested that Leo became a pupil/teacher at Craven Street and he remained there for two more years.

In 1917 he lied about his age and joined the Durham Light Infantry as a volunteer. He was eventually promoted to Sergeant and served in Italy with his Battalion. After demobilisation he started out as a pupil accountant, but it seems that he was set on improving the lot of the working class by education and opportunity and soon became a prominent member of the local Labour Party. He soon started work for himself.

He was introduced to his wife by a friend when she was working in York in 1919. He was smitten by the beautiful Kate (Kitty) Pickersgill and tried to impress her by gate crashing a party she was attending. Leo became a Councillor for the Labour party representing the Myton ward in 1926. Kitty and Leo married in 1928. It was obvious that Leo's energies were more into representing the people than his accountancy work as every March and April there were rows between the married couple as Kitty tried to get him to sort out his clients tax returns etc so as to bring some money into the family as there were no expenses paid councilors in those days. They had a son, christened Lionel in 1931.

Kitty joined the Jewish faith and also joined her husband as a councilor, maybe just to see more of him! She was at one stage the Chair of the Cultural Services Committee and was instrumental in having the New Theatre built.

Leo Shultz foresaw the coming of WWII and wanted Hull to be ready for the conflict. He managed to persuade the Hull City Council to have built 4000 shelters in readiness for the anticipated air campaign. The Council had no funding to cover the £1.5 million outlay and by the time they had managed to convince the Government of their argument the air raid shelters were under construction. By his efforts the shelters were ready prior to the Blitz and saved many lives. The Anderson shelters were made of sheets of corrugated sheet steel that were sunk into the ground a couple of feet to provide a shelter 6'x6'x 4'6" and provided shelter for 4 to 6 people. The the house owners earnings were less than £250 a year they were provided free.

Like many other cities a committee for refugees was set up and with his background Leo did not hesitate in getting involved. He took on all liabilities for a young lad who had escaped Vienna in Austria on the Kindertransport along with his sister. Robert Rosner aged just under 9 was taken in by Leo and Kityy and fitted in well with their son Lionel. His elder sister, Renate 13, was taken in by another Jewish couple that were greengrocers and lived on Anlaby High Road. After the war it was found that Their parents had survived the war and Renate chose to return to Vienna. Robert was eventually adopted and became a successful architect in the city.

Sir Leo Shultz.

Kitty worked tirelessly for the civil defence of the city as she was up every night. Leo was working within the Air Raid Precautions branch and was awarded the OBE following the war for his efforts. He also became the Lord Mayor for 1942/43. Following the war Leo through himself fully into council work and politics and was the leader of Hull Council from 1945 until 1979. This was the period that saw the rebuilding of the city after the devastation of the war years when Hull was the most badly bombed city outside of Hull but was only talked of as a 'North East coastal town'. He oversaw the rebuilding of the housing with the creation of new estates such as Bilton Grange, Greatfield, Longhill, Boothferry, Orchard Park and Bransholme. He became known as 'Lion of Hull' for his steadfast work for the benefit of Hull through this period.

Leo Shultz tried to become an MP and was said to have been prevented from becoming the parliamentary candidate for the labour held North Hull constituency by trickery. The winner was found to be wanted by the police in Australia for bigamy. He later stood for election twice in the Tory held seat of Holderness where he was beaten both times. He then concentrated on his work for the benefit of Hull. In the 1950's the y lived on Duesbury Street off Prices Avenue but their adopted son designed and built a house for them on Newland Park which was beneficial to Kitty as she was suffering badly from arthritis.

Sir Leo Shultz.

Leo enjoyed a game of cricket and indeed there is a photograph of the young lad playing cricket in the bottom of the under construction king George Dock. He used to watch the cricket at The Circle and played wicket keeper and captained the council side into his early 50's.

He was for many years the Chairman of the finance committee and was well known in Whitehall for his expertise. He was also on the committee of the National Association of Municipal Authorities that also had much contact with government and civil servants. He was knighted in 1966 for his services to local government. He also was honoured by the french Government for his work during the war.
Kitty died in 1975 and Leo passed away in 1991. In later years of his work for Hull he became known as Mr. Hull.

On 9th May 2011 a bronze statue was unveiled of Leo Shultz. It  is found in a niche in the walkl of the Guildhall on Quay Street, Queen's Park. In was designed by Nigel Boonham and cost £86000. The unveiling was attended by civic dignitaries and members of his family.

Sir Leo Shultz, OBE. Guildhall, Hull.

'Mr Hull' or 'The Lion of Hull' often used to state something that was alluded to in the City of Culture bid video, ' Some may think that Hull is at the end of the line, but I know, and can tell you that the line starts from Hull.'

Friday, 14 November 2014

Fact 36. Venn diagrams were conceived by an Hullensian.

John Venn was born in Hull and he conceived the idea of using what became known as Venn Diagrams for use in probability, logic and statistics. When I was at school this was called 'modern maths'! A Venn Diagram is a diagram used to represent mathematical or logical sets as circles or curves and where they overlap is where elements of the set are common.

This Venn diagram has three circles showing three sets. They are  children with blonde hair, boys, and children over 8 years old. Where all three circles overlap Sam is found to satisfy all three criteria. It can also be seen that Bill is a boy with blonde hair and Ian is a boy older than 8. The other names only satisfy one of the sets or criteria.

John Venn was born in Hull 4th August 1834. His mother was Martha, nee Sykes, and came from nearby Swanland. His father was Rev. Henry Venn (II) who at the time was Rector of Drypool Church in Hull. Young John had a lot to live up to as his grandfather was Rev. John Venn had been the Rector of Clapham Holy Trinity Church in South London. He was the leader of a group of Evangelical Christians that later had become known as the 'Clapham Sect'. The movement had been started by the Rev. John's father Rev. Henry (I) who had also been the Rector of Holy Trinity. The group were campaigners for the abolition of slavery, prison reform, the prevention of cruel sports and supported missionary work abroad. There are  connections with Hull here as William Wilberforce was another member of the group and is a hero of Hull. The Group also set up the Church Missionary Society that founded Freetown in Sierra Leone to which Hull is now twinned. Young John's father Rev. Henry Venn (II) was also a fellow of Queens College

Our John's mother died when he was only 6 and his father Rev. Henry (II) took up the post of Secretary to the Church Missionary Society in 1841 which meant that they moved to Highgate in London. John was educated at Sir Cholmley's School that later became Highgate School, and then Islington Pre. school. He followed the family tradition of wanting to become a priest for which his strict upbringing had well suited him.

At 19 in 1853 he enrolled in Gonville and Caius College Cambridge and was awarded a maths scholarship the following year.. He graduated in 1857as the 6th best student with a !st Class degree in maths. He was also awarded a Bachelor of Science degree and a little later became a Fellow of the College and remained so all his life.

In 1858 he became a Deacon at Ely and following his ordination in 1859 became a Curate, first at Cheshunt and then Mortlake. In 1862 he returned to Cambridge to lecture in moral science and also studied and taught logic and probability theory.

He married Susanna Edmonstone, the daughter of a vicar in 1869 and they went on to have one son, another John, who went on to become a Fellow of Queens College in 1932 and worked collaborated with his father later in life.

Venn John signature.jpg

Around 1880 he conceived the idea of the Venn diagram during his work in the probability and logic field. He was elected a Fellow of the  Royal Society in 1883 but felt he had to resign from the priesthood as he no longer found that his philosophical beliefs were compatible with the Anglicanism of the time. However he remained a man of sincere religious conviction.

After this time he turned to history and wrote histories of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University and his families history. He collaborated with his son for some of this work. He had long had an interest in building machines and one of his most successful could be said to his machine for bowling cricket balls. When the Australian Cricket team visited Cambridge University in 1909 his machine bowled their top batsman, four times!

He died in Cambridge age 88 on 4th April 1923. In a recent poll his was voted the 3rd Greatest Modern Mathematician after Sir Issac Newton and Leonhard Euler the Swiss Mathematician. His son said of his father, ' of spare build, he was throughout his life a fine walker and mountain climber, a keen botanist and an excellent talker and linguist'.

John Venn's commemorative window at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

There is a stained glass window in his old Cambridge College to commemorate his work and Hull University have named a building completed in 1928 after him.

Hull University Venn Building named after the Mathematician.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Fact 44. A Hull FC player received the Victoria Cross.

On this Remembrance Sunday one hundred years after the start of WWI I thought it appropriate to write about a recipient of the highest award for bravery award in the UK, the Victoria Cross. I know of at least two winners of the medal and I will tell the story of other winners at a later date.

John (Jack) Harrison couldn't be more connected to the Hull if he had tried. He was born in Hull on the 12th November 1890 close to Earles Shipyard where his father worked as a plater and boilermaker. His family wanted the best for him and he worked hard at school and did not leave at twelve like most others, so he was able to advance to St John's College in York where he trained to be a teacher. St John's is now St John's University, York. Not only did he do well in his studies but excelled at sport. He represented the college at cricket and swimming and was the captain of the rugby team. Once qualified he started teaching at a school in York and was spotted by members of the York rugby league club. He started playing for them and during the 1911/12 season he played five times and scored three tries.

Jack returned to Hull to take up a position as teacher at  Lime Street School in September 1912. He also married Lillian on 1st September 1912 and then played his first game for Hull FC on 5th September 1912. It must have been a very busy time of his life, with an awful lot of changes. Jack went on to become a hero with the rugby fans as he scored 52 tries in the 1913/14 season, a record that still stands. He eventually scored 106 tries in 116 matches played which is a very impressive strike rate in  anybodies book. One of these tries was in the 1914 Challenge cup Final that helped Hull FC lift the trophy after defeating Wakefield Trinity in the final played at Halifax. Jack was selected to play for Great Britain but unfortunately with the outbreak of WWI the 1914 tour to Australia was cancelled.

Jack Harrison in Hull FC strip.

He volunteered for the army not very long after his son, called Jackie, was born and on 4th November 1915 started Officer training as a Private in the Inns of Court OTC. On completion of his training on 5th August 1916 he was commissioned as probationary Temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the East Yorkshire Regiment and was assigned to 6 platoon 11th Battalion also known as the Tradesmen.
At this time on the Somme front as a whole the British Army were losing about 300 men a day.  In February 1917 Jack and his men once more moved into the front line and on 25th March they were called upon to undertake a patrol into no-mans land. By the end of the nights work jack had won a Military Medal. The citation reads,

" For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He handled his platoon with great courage and skill, reached his objective under the most trying conditions and captured a prisoner. He set a splendid example throughout."

On 3rd May 1917 his Brigade were ordered to make a night attack on a wood near Oppy in the Pas de Calais. Jack's platoon were soon in the thick of it and there appears to have been much confusion as it was dark and the artillery fire from both sides was making life difficult for them to move about. Eventually they came upon on the German trenches that were well dug in and became pinned down. Several attacks were made on the trenches but each was repulsed. Eventually Jack, armed with a mills grenade and his pistol attempted to silence the machine gun to enable his men to continue.
Jack's citation for the  Victoria Cross reads as follows;

"For most conspicuous bravery and self sacrifice in an attack. Owing to darkness and to smoke from the enemy barrage, and from our own, and to the fact that the objective was in a dark wood, it was impossible to see when our barrage had lifted off the enemy front line. Nevertheless 2nd Lieutenant Harrison led his company against the enemy trench under heavy rifle and machine gun fire, but was repulsed. Re-organising his command as best he could in No Man's Land he again attacked in darkness, under terrific fire, but with no success. Then turning round, this gallant officer single handed made a dash at the machine gun, hoping to knock out the gun and so save the lives of many of his company. His self sacrifice and absolute disregard of danger was an inspiring example to all. (He is reported missing, reported killed.)"

Jack Harrison was never seen again and his body has never been found. He is commemorated at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Arras memorial.

His wife Lillian was presented with Jack's medal by King George V at Buckingham Palace in March 1918.

Times were not easy for war widows and the people of Hull raised a fund for for their hero on the rugby pitch and the battlefield to help pay for the education of young Jackie.

Yong Jack went on to serve as a Captain in the West Riding Regiment in WWII, and made the ultimate sacrifice during the defence of Dunkirk and is buried in Dunkirk's cemetery.

Lilian went to live to a good age and died 5th December 1977. She had left Jack Harrison's medals to the East Yorkshire Regiment in Beverley. This has now been incorporated into the Prince of Wales Own Regiment of Yorkshire museum in York.

On this Rememberance Sunday it is good to know that Jack Harrison has not been forgotten for in 2002 a group of Hull FC fans decided that they would like a memorial to their hero and started a fund to do so. By 2003 they had raised sufficient to erect a memorial outside the KC Stadium. It was sculpted by Jenny Oliver.

The memory and courage of Jack Harrison is set to continue as a Trust has been set up to raise funds for the presentation of memorial medals to children of lesser ability who use rugby league to overcome adversity. The fund is always open and would welcome any donations at


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Fact 43. Tom Courtenay was born in Hull.

Sir Thomas Daniel Courtenay was born in Hull 25th February 1937. As thousands of others in the Hessle Road area of Hull his mother and father worked around the fishing fleets. His dad Tommy painted the trawlers when they were in dock and between trips and his mother Annie Eliza was a net braider. When young Tom got older his father couldn't understand why he didn't like a fight but along with his mother were determined that Tom would do better. It was his mother that gave him extra tuition whilst he attended West Dock Avenue Boys School. At first he didn't like it as he didn't get as much attention from the teacher as his from his Mum. How ever he was one of only two lads that passed their 11 Plus out of a year of fifty boys.

During the war his mother and younger sister Ann were evacuated to Bridlington but they hated it and were back home within a fortnight. Hessle Road was right by the docks and was an area badly bombed. Whilst houses at each end of their road were bombed they hid in the cupboard under the stairs during raids and the worst they had was all their windows were blown out. His father never got called up and they think it was a book keeping error. All in all he enjoyed the war like many young lads at the time.

Tom Courtney
Tom Courtenay aged 10.

By passing the 11 Plus Tom went to the Grammar School Kingston High that was a bus ride away. He loved it and realised that education was important to him and enjoyed his time there, especially the school plays and poetry readings where he realised that he was good at it and that people would listen. He became a Prefect and later was made Head Boy.

He went to University College London to read English but the pressure of expectation laid him low the week before his Finals. He later said that it had been a breakdown. However he said that he had selected University College as it was next door to RADA and with in seven days of his collapse he had auditioned and won a full scholarship to RADA. Here he was among what became the known as the Angry Young Men of the 'British New Wave'. This included Albert Finney, Alan Bates and Peter O'Toole and was based on a reality approach to acting with regional accents and gritty dramas that took the stage by storm. His stage debut was with the Old Vic Company in Edinburgh. His first big break was in 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner' in 1962. Unfortunately his mother died a week before the film was released but she already knew he was on the way to success after leaving RADA. He won the BAFTA award for Best Newcomer. 

Tom Courtenay in the Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, 1962

He then took over the lead role of Billy Liar in the stage play of the same name from Albert Finney. He also starred in the film of the play in 1963 with Julie Christie and it was another great hit. Then came 'King and Country' with Dirk Bogarde and 'Operation Crossbow' with Sophia Loren and Trevor Howard. He was nominated for the BAFTA Best British Actor for Billy Liar anbd King and Country. He went to Hollywood to film 'King Rat' but didn't really like the experience and turned down many Hollywood roles. His next big success was in Doctor Zhivago in 1965 for which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Acton Oscar.

The 1970's were a little fallow for films but he worked consistently on stage. He married his first wife Cheryl Kennedy in 1973 who was also an actress. They divorced in 1982. Courtenay had a long association with Manchester when we worked at the University Century Theatre that then became the Royal Exchange Theatre. His next big film success was in 'The Dresser' with Albert Finney in 1983. For this he won the Golden Globe Best Actor Award and was nominated for the OSCAR Best Actor and BAFTA Best British Actor Awards. In 1988 he married Isabel Crossley who he met at the Manchester Theatre where she was a stage manager. Their big regret is not having children following a miscarriage.

Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay in 'The Dresser'.

  In 2000 he wrote a memoir which contained letters with his Mother and other anecdotes from his time as a young actor. He was knighted in 2001 in the Queens New Year Honours List. He also wrote and acted a one man show based on the letters and writings of another Hull Hero Philip Larkin in 2002. Tom continues to work on stage film and television and is continuing to act. His latest film is currently being made and is the film of Dad's Army in which he will play Corporal Jones, a role for which he seems ideal. This is bound to be a smash hit when it comes out.

Tom Courtenay at the opening of his Dustin Hoffman directed film 'Quartet'.

Tom Courtenay has always been a great supporter of Hull, literally, as he is the President of the Hull City AFC Official Supports Club. He received an Honorary Doctorate from Hull University in 1999.
That Hull won the bid for the Year of Culture 2017 owes a great deal of thanks to Sir Tom for narrating the promotional video for the bid. I think the whole thing is a master piece by all involved and still brings tears to my eyes and I'm sure in no small measure ensured that we were victorious in our bid. If you haven't seen it I urge you to watch. Here is the link;

Omar Sharif and Tom Courtenay at Hull City.

One day there will be a statue of Sir Tom Courtenay in Hull.