On a dark December day 170 years ago, an east Hull street was in mourning.
At number 12, Hood Street, the Durr family was trying to come to terms with the loss of three girls – Mary, Catherine and Maria – drowned just yards away in the River Hull. Next door, 21-year-old newlywed William Smith had also been lost.
All four had been on their way to work at the giant new Kingston Cotton Mills, when tragedy struck. ¹
They had caught a popular early morning ferry, known as the Brewhouse Wrack, which crossed the river from the Groves – an infamous district of tightly packed slums – to Wincolmlee. ²
As the crowded boat reached the middle of the fast-flowing river, it capsized, throwing about 30 people into the water. Fourteen drowned.
In the days to come, thousands of people would turn out to mourn the dead and watch their funeral processions.
The three men stumbled across the frozen surface of the White Sea. They were freezing, starving and close to exhaustion.
Through snow drifts, whipped up by cruel winds, they could occasionally see the dim beacon of a lighthouse. Desperately, they trudged on towards it, across the rough and treacherous ice, conscious that to stop might mean their deaths.
They were the last survivors of the crew of the SS Sappho, a Hull steamship which was sailing home from the Russian port of Archangel, when it became stuck fast in ice, miles from the safety of land, in December 1915.
Hull man Joseph Taylor was enjoying a holiday in Scarborough when he cut himself while shaving. A few days later, he was dead … from anthrax.
An inquest into his death, held in September 1924, heard how a shaving brush was the likely cause of death.
Taylor, a clerk at Reckitt’s, who lived in Thoresby Street, had been in perfect health when he left for the seaside with his wife.
He bought the brush in Scarborough, for one shilling and sixpence, and used it while shaving every day for a week, before cutting a spot which bled profusely. After a few days the cut got worse and Taylor became sick, but a chemist told him he had “barber’s rash” and suggested an ointment. Continue reading “The Hull man killed by his shaving brush”