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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Fact 51. Don Suddaby invented Lorenzo's Oil.

Don Suddaby was a comsetic chemist working for Croda International in Hull. His was only a small part in the story, but a crucial one.

Augusto Odone and his second wife Michaela had just come back from the Comoros Islands (north of Madagascar) where they had been working for the World Park and settled in Washington. In 1984 their youngest child Lorenzo, almost six, started displaying symptoms that could not be explained. Augusto and Michaela persisted and did their own research and eventually realised that he was suffering from Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). This is an inherited problem where the body is not able to break down very long chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) and these build up in the cells where they attack the myelin sheaf of nerves that insulate and protect them. This then leads to the deterioration of the nervous system that eventually leads to death. Little was known about the problem and there were no known cures. The severe form is only based down to males.

Augusto, Michaela and Lorenzo Odone in 1985 around the time of the diagnosis of his ALD.

Augusto and Michaela  did not accept that they would have to watch him die and though not scientists they set to to look into the disease. Their research found that there was some efforts being made in gene therapy where the hereditary defect could be repaired but this was for a long time in the future. They then looked at from preventing the VLCFAs building up in the body. They organised a conference and much of the finance for it, and found that oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that is derived from olive oil, was thought to reduce the accumulated VLCFAs. By the time of the conference Lorenzo was unable to walk and talk and had trouble swallowing so time was off the essence as he had only months to live. They managed to find a company that manufactured an edible source of Oleic acid and started testing the oil on Michaela's sister Deidre. As the ALD is hereditary they had checked family members and found her to have the gene defect and an accumulation of the VLCFAs but without the myelin loss. Following testing on her they found the fad fatty acids reduced by half and straight away started giving it to Lorenzo. This was not enough for Lorenzo so Augusto and Michaela continued research thinking that there may be another 'good' fatty acid that may be more potent than Oleic acid. They found one in erucic acid that is derived from rape seed oil. The only problem was that the majority of research had found that it was toxic to mice and rats. However a Canadian company had done research on humans and found no such toxicity and it was part of the staple diet in Indian and Eastern Europe. That was enough for them and they started looking for somebody to manufacture their oil and this is where Don Suddaby steps in.

Don had been in the Royal Navy during WWII and afterwards passed his degree in Chemistry. in 1949 he started work with Smith and Nephew on drugs to combat tuberculosis that became available world wide. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry in 1957. By 1960 he was a director of S&N Research Ltd and Managing Director in 1967. He then took early retirement to pursue a farming lifestyle. How ever in 1973, maybe due to an accident that caused a broken hip and put him in a wheelchair he accepted a position as an Analytical Chemist with Croda International Ltd. in 1973. Here he was mainly working on fish oils and had just completed this work when Lorenzo's Oil turned up.

Croda factory in Oak Road Hull.

Croda International are an East Yorkshire company that was started in 1925 by a Mr. G. CROwe and a Mr. DAwe and hence the name CRODA. They were manufacturing lanolin out sheep's wool oil. They have grown to a very large company and manufacture all over the world with the head office still in East Yorkshire. They produce cosmetic creams and lotions, dietary supplements and even a fatty acid amide that makes plastic bags in a roll easier to separate!

The last photograph of Lorenzo Odone, subject of the film Lorenzo's Oil
Lorenzo and Augusto Orone just before Lorenzo died aged 30.

The Odones contacted about 100 manufacturers to try to have their oil fabricated but as they were not either medical or scientific they were not entertained, until they came into contact with Croda's USA Office. The specification of the oil Odone required ended up on Kieth Couplands desk in Hull late 1985 early 1986. Croda were the largest producers or erucic acid in the world and Don Suddaby's work on fish oils was directly related to the high concentrations required. He agreed to help them and set to finding a solution to formulating an oil from oleic and erucic acids with Don, by now 70 years old, as the lead man. First he had to refine the products sufficiently to a 95% concentration of the active ingredients, remove long chain fatty acids and then combine them in an effective way. We worked 16 hour days, mainly at night when he wouldn't be disturbed and had use of equipment etc and in four months he had Lorenzo's oil. It was 4 parts erucic and 1 part oleic acid. The first kilo of oil cost several thousand  dollars. Again the oil was tested on Michaela's sister and miraculous results were noted as the VLCFAs disappeared from her cells.

Lorenzo was first diagnosed in 1984 aged 7 and steadily degenerated. By the time the oil was ready in 1988 he was bed ridden and was blind deaf and almost completely physically disabled and could communicate only by blinking or moving his fingers. The administration of the oil prevented any further regression and Lorenzo lived a further 19 years until he died just after his 30th birthday in 2008. His mother Michaela had died of lung cancer in 2000 and Augusto died in 2012. Lorenzo's Oil was not able to cure him but prevented progress of the disease. Being hereditary it was found that if given to young people with the gene defect before symptoms develop the ALD can largely be prevented. The Odone's were not satisfied with this and put much time and effort into setting up the Myelin Project were work is being carried out on how to repair the nerve myelin to restore the nervous system.

Lorenzo's Oil.jpg
Film poster for Lorenzo's Oil, 1992.

In 1992 a film was made of the story and was called Lorenzo's Oil. Nick Nolte played Augusto and Susan Sarandon played Michaela. Peter Ustinov was also in the film and Don Suddaby played himself. The filming of the lab scenes was done at Canary Wharf as the Croda lab was not big enough. The only photograph of Donnald Suddaby I can find is a still from the movie. It was nominated for two Oscar awards.

Don Suddaby in the film Lorenzo's Oil, 1992.

Don Suddaby died a year later in 1993 but is remembered with a street named after him, Suddaby Close. This street is found at the end of Lorenzo Way off Southcoates Avenue in East Hull.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Fact 50. The first statutory Dock Company was in Hull.

The Hull Dock Company was formed in 1773 by Trinity House and a group of Hull merchants. There plan was to build the first enclosed dock in Hull and they were the first statutory dock company in the UK. The Old Harbour (River Hull) had become so  congested it was affecting trade. In 1774 an Act of Parliament was passed allowing them to raise £100,000 in shares. The company opened what was to become Queens Dock in 1778. I don't know where their first Offices were but their second offices were on Dock Office Row right next to the entrance to Queens Dock from the River Hull. They were built in 1820.

The second Hull Dock Company offices besides the River Hull and the old entrance to The Dock. When the  company trade increased they had new office constructed in 1871and this building became Oriental Chambers and accommodation for oil seed crushers and timber importers. They later house a Finish Seaman's mission. In the 70's they were a club and in the 80's a pub. After that they became part of Hull college catering department

By 1871 the Town docks were completed and further docks had been constructed to east and west of the river Hull and the trade to the port required a new substantial building to house the offices of the vast enterprise. The designer was Christopher G. Wray and was in the Italianate style with a tower at each corner. It  cost £90,000. It was a cleaver design to fit in a triangular plot at the lock between Queens and Junction Docks. They are now Grade II* Listed.

The three towerd new Dock Company Building can be seen by the bridge over the junction between the docks. The column with William Wilberforce's statue can be seen next to it. The bridge is still known as Monument Bridge. Queens dock runs up to the top of the picture. The Dock buildings were later to front on to the newly created Victoria Square that was conceived around 1900, and the Statue of Queen Victoria can be seen in the middle. The large building middle bottom with the dome is the City Hall that was started in 1903 and was in use by 1909.

Detail above the facade facing Queen Victoria Square.

This is the facade of the building that faces Queens Dock and as can be seen was curved. In front  the anchors and propeller form a memorial to all those of the merchant navy that lost their lives in both world wars.

In November 2013 the another memorial to the approx 36,000 merchant seamen that lots their lives was unveiled close by the previous one that still remains. The new memorial represents a 4m high ships bow and cost £30,000.

In side the New Dock Offices the two floors were divided up into offices and the like. The ground floor had a large open plan area for all the general clerks and their desks. There were separate offices for the Dock Master, Resident Engineer and superintendent. On the second floor was a beautiful Proprietors court room, Directors withdrawing room and committee room along with solicitors offices etc. There was a strongroom on each floor for files and other items.

The Proprietors Court Room

Detail of the frieze of cherubs around the Court Room. Each cherub is holding the coat of arms of one of the cities with trade links to the port of Hull.

A lovely photo of the Dock Offices taken from Queens Gardens that were built on the filled in Queens Dock.

The Hull Dock Company eventually faced competition having held a monopoly on dock wharfage until 1885. The Dock Company made good money but most of the investors no longer lived or traded in the area so what was beneficial to the shareholders was not always the best thing for the city and surrounding area. Things like having a full dock with delays for ships was maybe good for the Company but not that good for trade, and this delayed building of new docks. In the end The Hull, Barnsley and East Riding Junction Railway opened Alexandra Dock to the east and the competition started. It drove down prices and led to cost cutting which eventually led to the Dock Company seeking out an amalgamation with a larger company. In they end the were merged into the North Eastern Railway Company in 1893. It was eventually acquired by the City Council in 1968 and in 1975 the Maritime Museum moved in from a previous site in Pickering Park in 1974. I will write a blog about the Museum at a later date.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Fact 49. East Park is the largest park in Hull.

East park was the third of Hull's public parks (after Pearson Park and West Park) but is much the biggest in the city at about 120 acres. The first tranche of land of 38 acres was bought from the Ann Watson Trust for £17000. The land was out east of the centre of the town and was away from the built up area. The land was also chosen as it would have easy access as it was close to the tram terminus on Holderness Road. The designer was Joseph Fox Sharp, the Borough Surveyor and as soon as the land was purchased he started work. It was to have a carriage drive right round the exterior of the park and good quality housing was to built on the outer side of this road. The drive still exsists but the housing was never completed. Work commenced in 1883 and provided work for between 150 and 200 men in very straitened times before it was opened. The wages of 18s a week would have meant a great deal to them and their families.

The park opened on 21st June 1887 which was the date of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and large crowds lined the two mile route from the city centre to the park. The procession started at the Market Place where a new covered market was opened on this auspicious day and marched with bands etc to the new park. I believe the opening ceremony was carried out by the Mayor, Henry Toozes. Alderman W.F. Chapman made a speech at the opening ceremony suggesting that the park may be called Victoria Park but neither the new Market Hall or park were named after the monarch. Queen Victoria only visited Hull once, in 1854, and I have read that this was thought to be due to the turning away of Charles I at the start of the Revolution and this implied that Hull was anti monarchy. I doubt this was true but it makes you wonder whether that was a reason not to name these amenities after her. Mind you after such a long  reign there would already be plenty with her stamp on it.

The park catered for such activities as football, cricket and boating. The lake was later stocked with fish for angling. When the park opened there was a pong for model yacht racing along  with a boathouse for them. Competition was keen and the results of races were posted in the local papers. There is still a model boat club based at the park to this day. There was a bandstand and concerts were regularly performed. An early addition to the park was an ornamental rock garden which is the largest in a public park in the UK and survives to this day. It was designed by E.A. Peat and was built between 1885 and 1888 using stone from a nearby derelict mansion. The large gorges and cliff faces gave it the local name of the Khyber Pass, especially as this was the era of the second Afghan war ending in 1881. The stone work was adorned with a watch tower from the citadel that once protected the entrance to the River hull and the east flank of the city but had been demolished in the 1860's. The watch tower has been removed and placed in situ at the remains of the citadel near Victoria Dock.

Khyber Pass and bridge in East Park today.

The Citadel watch tower in Khyber Pass, East Park.

Land was slowly acquired and facilities added. Tennis and bowls were provided and in 1913 T.R. Ferens donated some land an a boating lake was dug. This was extended in 1923 and this then linked through to the King George V playing fields that were also brought into the park. In 1925 a double arch bridge was built across the lake. Also added was a children's boating lake and paddling pool. An aviary was opened in 1928 and a year later the Splash boat was added. This was built by Wicksteed and is now one of only two or three that survive. The boat drops 22 feet in a run of around 100 feet. The boat cost £1400 and the tower cost £ 474 and was built by the council. It is released from the tower and plunges down a rail before making a huge splash and spray in the lake before being hoisted back up the tower to do it all again. It is a must for all Grandparents with their charges in the summer.

East Park boating lake, Hull, in 1914

Splash Boat at East Park
Wicksteed Splash Boat in East Park, Hull.

By 1930 the park had reached it's fullest extent after taking in the boating lake land, the King George V playing fields and some disused clay pits. Efforts were made after WWII to restore the park with the building of islands in the boating lake and a dance hall to the southern edge. A Veterans Hall was built next to the dance hall a little later along with tennis courts. An area for small animals was added in 1963 where wallabies, emus and deer could be seen and the next year an outdoor swimming pool was opened.

There appeared to be a decline over the following years until in 2000 when a Lottery fund application was made and over the next few years over £10 million has been spent on the park. It is now extremely busy with all age groups. There is an Animal Education Centre with a walk through aviary, The splash boat has been restored and is open every summer. As the park is so large the large free outdoor concerts are held there as is the regular Saturday Park Run and other lifestyle and sports events. the children's play equipment is up dated and the up keep of the flower and grassed areas makes for a lovely setting for every outing. There is plenty of space for anything you want to do.

East Park, Hull.

I am expecting that East Park will be a venue for many of the larger concerts and events of the Year of the City of Culture, but when not hosting  such things it is a great place to be 'of the City' but not 'in the City'.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Fact 48. The Football Association was instigated by a man from Hull.

I have just seen the draw for the 3rd Round of the FA Cup was held at The Deep in Hull and the presenter mentioned that the FA owes it's origins to Ebenezer Cobb Morley who was from Hull.

Ebenezer was born in Hull 16-Aug-1831. His father, also Ebenezer, was a Minister or Religion and lived at 10 Garden Square off Princess Street just to the north of the city centre with his wife Hannah Maria. Father was a Minister at Holborn Street and his father had been a Minister at the Hope Street Chapel for just under fifty years. In 1841 they moved Pemberton Street and later to Holborn Place a little to the west of his birth place. Little is known of his time in Hull but he did not attend a public school for his education. In 1852 the whole family moved to Chelsea, London. By 1854 young Ebenezer had qualified as a solicitor. He still held land in Hull though at least until 1876. By 1858 Ebenezer junior had moved to Barnes. He was very sporting and was the founder Captain of Barnes Football club. He also enjoyed rowing and went on to be founder and secretary of the Barnes and Mortlake Regatta and rowed in the London Rowing Club eight at the 1864 Henley Regatta. He also was a keen huntsman and had his own pack of twelve beagles!

Ebenezer Cobb Morley.
(The above photograph may not actually be of E.C. Morley after all).

At this time football was played to many and various rules. The main two were the Cambridge Rules played by the Universities and major schools and many clubs in the south. The Sheffield Rules were played by northern clubs.. In fact when teams played each other it was common to play one half of the game by the first club's rules and the second half by the others! This must have offended the Victorian sense of order of Ebenezer and he wrote a letter to the Bell's Life newspaper regarding the unifying of the rules in a similar to the way the rules of cricket had been unified. Following this a meeting was held at the Freemasons' Tavern in Holborn. It was attended by representatives of  clubs, Barnes, Blackheath, Perceval House, Kensington School, Crystal Palace, The War Office, Forest (later becoming Wanderers), Crusaders, Surbiton, BlackHeath Propietory School and No Names of Kilburn. Charterhouse just sent an observer but did not join. At this meeting it was agreed to form an association with the aim to unify the rules of the game. The rules had been drafted by Ebenezer Morley as he had been voted as Secretary of the new Association. There were 23 Rules. No.9 regarding the running with the ball towards the opponents goal if it had been caught 'on the full' after the first bounce. No. 10 concerned that it would be legal for opponents to hack the front of the legs of a person running with the ball. These two rules were very hotly discussed. One person stated that 'do away with hacking and you will do away with the courage and pluck of the game, and it will bound to bring over a lot of Frenchmen who would beat you with a weeks practice'.

This is what football teams looked like in 1863. This is Forest  that soon became Wanderers.

By 8-Dec-1863 the rules had been agreed. F.W. Campbell from Blackheath argued to keep the handling and hacking rules in but lost on a vote 13 to 4. He resigned his club and he and they went on to be founder members of the Rugby Football Union in 1871. The only handling of the ball was when a clean catch was made and a mark could be made when a free kick could be made. This was later dropped but still survives in Rugby Union. There were 13 rules, No.6 being the offside rule stating that when a player touches the ball, any player of his side who is nearer the opponents goal line is out of play. This in effect requires the ball to be passed backwards which is still the case in rugby. Rule 13 stated that projecting nails, iron plates or gutta percha could be worn on the soles or heels of boots! (Gutta percha was the sap from a tree used for many things until plastic and Bakelite came along).

The Association wanted to get going as soon as possible and the first match under the new rules was played on 18-Dec-1863 between Barnes and Richmond and it was a 0-0 draw and Ebenezer played. He also played in the first representative match when a London Clubs team played a Sheffield Clubs representative side on 31- Mar-1866. In 1867 he was appointed as President of the FA.

E.C. Morley in later life with a determined jaw.

In October 1869 he found time to marry Frances Bidgood in Pancras but they did not have any children. He went on to sit on the Surrey County Council, become a Justice of the Peace and be a Conservator of Barnes Common along with his association with rowing and hunting. He went on to present the trophy after the first FA Cup final as the President. Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1-0 in a match played at the Oval in 1872.

Ebenezer Morley died in Richmond at 93 on 20-Nov-1924. He was Buried in Barnes.
(This photograph is not E.C. Morley but is in fact William McGregor who was the founder of the Football League in 1888 and the first President).

By 2011 the graveyard where he was buried had become abandoned and merged with Barnes Common. Friends of the Common wanted to restore the area but after seeking sponsorship from the local Council and the FA and been denied it fell to a local business man to come up with the cash and propose a scheme to have the grave recognised. By 2013, the 150 anniversary of the founding of the FA, they had been successful and in December of that year Greg Dyke the current chairman of the FA laid a wreath at the grave side.

Greg Dyke, Chairman of the FA, laying a wreath at the grave of E.C. Morley in Barnes on the 150th anniversary of the founding of the FA.

There is nothing in Hull to celebrate this sportsman from Hull who Melvin Bragg reckons Morley's Book of Laws of Football was one of the twelve most influential books ever. Up there with the origin of the species. Football today has become a huge sport and business and he had the foresight to first codify the rules of the game. 

A Cottingham school boy Oliver Harsley has started a campaign to have a statue to the man made and placed in Hull. Please contact using Twitter @For Statue and hashtag #StatueForEbenezer and we could could again become focus of the world stage in our small way.