In the later nineteenth century, the immediate Hull area presented a markedly different picture to the one we are familiar with today. The town - for it did not achieve city status until 1897 - was much smaller. Its population in 1881 being just over 165,000 compared with 295,000 by 1966.
Though parts of its central districts were packed with notorious slums, other areas that we now know as crowded streets and suburbs were then fields and woods. Hessle Road was still being built along, as were Anlaby, Beverley and Holderness Roads. You would not have to travel far down what we now know as Spring Bank West to find yourself in open countryside. Pubs such as the Gardners Arms on Cottingham Road were then beyond the edge of the urban sprawl, whilst several miles of flat fields - many like those that can still be seen along Priory Road today - separated the town from the surrounding villages of Hessle, Kirkella, Cottingham and Sutton. During the latter half of the nineteenth century local newspapers often carried reports of athletic sports days. Many local towns and villages, including Beverley, Cottingham, Hessle and South Cave, attracted large crowds to their summer meetings.