Hull pubs are a fascinating hive of activity and have been for decades. They are places we go to socialise, drink, meet friends, have fun and create memories.
They are the places we go when we are happy and celebrating and when we are sad and drowning our sorrows.
And a lot of them have been open for centuries – meaning they will have seen some dark tales in their time.
Imagine then if you could peel back the layers of history and look back in time at the many incidents, accidents, deaths, and crimes that have taken place at these venues.
Here, Mike Covell takes us through ten of the most chilling tales that have been associated with some of the city’s best-known pubs.
Bay Horse, Wincolmlee
Built in 1803, the Bay Horse’s spookiest tale brought it to prominence in February 1927 when its landlord John William Boothby, 43, was found with his throat cut.
He was discovered by his mother, who walked into the pub and found a pool of blood on the ceiling, dripping down into the bar.
She ran to alert a neighbour John Atkin, who rushed upstairs and found Mr Boothby in bed with his throat cut. A brief inquest was held and a verdict of “death by suicide” was returned, suggesting Mr Boothby had inflicted the fatal wound by himself.
The Bull, Beverley Road
In 1851, the public house hit the headlines when the former landlord Thomas Moor, was almost murdered by a pork butcher called William Miller. It seems Miller had recently separated from Moor’s daughter. He took a knife to Moor’s throat, before killing himself. Moor survived the attack and later testified in court.
In another mysterious death, landlord George Henry Bearpark was found lifeless in his first-floor bedroom in March 1899 after receiving a single shot to the back of the head. A revolver was discovered near the body and suicide was given as the verdict.
Duke of Edinburgh, Great Union Street
It will be the events of March 1930 that will live on in infamy for the Duke of Edinburgh when the landlord Walter Garforth, was found dead in his bed. A maid had walked into his room and found him strangled to death with a length of gas tubing.
An inquest was held and it transpired the maid was actually his niece, called Florence Nightingale, who had made him a cup of tea shortly before he took his life.
Hull Cheese, Paragon Street
More than many other places, the Hull Cheese, also once known as the Paragon, has its fair share of tragedies.
Among the dark and devious crimes here was one by Maria Moody, described as a “dangerous” and “violent woman”, who assaulted George Ringer with a broken glass, before then attacking the arresting officer PC Pearcy, in November 1889.
In June 1890, Henry Emsley Midgley was attacked in the billiard room by Louis Hickman over a dispute.
Kingston Arms, Thomas Street
The Kingston Arms is a fine example of a back street boozer but like most public houses, it boasts a fascinating history.
Like the Bull, it was used to hold public inquests into deaths and was the scene of a tragedy that left its mark on a young family in December 1907.
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Landlord Joseph Booth, 29, was found dead and laid out downstairs by his wife. An investigation uncovered empty laudanum bottles in the fireplace, and a verdict of suicide was returned.
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Manchester Arms, Scale Lane
A mystery death at this particular pub spooked the city when Margaret Goy suffered a serious injury to her head on her way out of the building in August 1926.
Her husband, who had left her for five minutes, was informed she had been taken to Hull Royal Infirmary when he returned but, within 24 hours, she was dead.
At her inquest, some of the eyewitnesses claimed she fell, while others said she was the victim of a serious assault. The result was an “open verdict”, with the case attracting nation-wide media attention.
Minerva, Nelson Street
In 1834 this pub suffered its first tragedy when Jane Cortis, wife of landlord Richard, died there. She was just 43 years old and left a husband and ten children, two of which were only six weeks old.
Its proximity to the waterfront meant that it would be close-hand to any seafaring tragedies, including when the steam packet, Gainsboro, exploded in the Humber Dock in 1837, killing 17 men.
It was later reported that one of the bodies had to be recovered from the roof of the Minerva.
The Boot Room, Anlaby Road
The pub quickly became associated with death due to the many inquests it held in the 19th century.
Even the landlord, Tom W. Halliday, couldn’t escape the grim reaper when his body was discovered by his wife at the hotel in August 1876 aged just 33. Halliday was well known, well loved, and well respected in Hull, and was up for election to be a member of the Newington Local Board.
The inquest lasted days and was attended by some of the top names in Victorian Hull Health. A verdict of natural causes was returned.
Whittington and Cat, Commercial Road
The Whittington and Cat was very much a family-run pub. Originally taken over by Samuel Wood in 1808, he passed it onto his son Anthony, in 1841. Tragedy struck the family, though, when Anthony’s sister, Maria, died at the pub when she was only 40 years old.
In 1864, Anthony Wood walked into the back room of the public house, which housed the brew house, and took his life. He would be later found hanging from a beam in what is now the rear bar, and was just 51 years of age. A jury returned a verdict of “temporary insanity” on the body.
Ye Olde White Harte, Silver Street
Ye Olde White Harte is steeped in history, mystery, myths and more. So many stories have been told about plots, skulls, and antiquarian discoveries that somewhere along the way we appear to have lost track of the history and the people who lived, worked and died there.
One of the more infamous cases covers the tragic death of Fanny Clarkson, 26, who was daughter of the then landlord, John Clarkson. Miss Clarkson was tasked with lighting the fire in the main bar in April 1806 but, when she went to light it, the flames set fire to her clothing, causing fatal burns.
The next tragedy took place in April 1912, when staff turned up for work but found the doors locked.
The pub’s cellar man William Strutt, found the landlady Clara Seapelt, aged 38, dead at the bottom of the stairs. She had suffered problems with her breathing and had passed out at the top of the stairs before falling down and breaking her neck.
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