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Celebrated Hull historian Dr Alec Gill MBE gifts his life’s work to city



Hull historian, author and photographer Dr Alec Gill MBE has gifted his extensive research – representing 50-years of documenting the city’s Hessle Road Fishing culture – to Hull History Centre.

Almost one hundred large box files, containing tens of thousands of pages, have been deposited at the archive in Hull.

The collection of work includes information on hundreds of trawlers that were based and set sail from Hull’s once thriving fishing community.

Dr Gill said: “Fifty years of dedicated research into the dynamic topic of Hull’s Hessle Road Fishing Community have been set against the backdrop of my personal life – both bad and good.

“Both my parents died during the four years of researching the 900 Lost Trawlers of Hull (1989). Then, in 1986, I first met poet Audrey Dunne – and we are together after 35 years, still going strong and each writing in our different ways.”

The research will be archived at the History Centre, where it will be available to be viewed and referenced by the public and academics.

The research will be archived at the History Centre, where it will be available to be viewed and referenced by the public and academics.

Councillor Marjorie Brabazon, chair of Hull Culture and Leisure, said: “Dr Gill has spent his life telling the stories of others – of people, and of a community whose stories may otherwise have gone untold.

“I’m delighted that Dr Gill’s incredible work will be stored and made available at the History Centre, meaning that this important part of Hull’s history can never be forgotten.”

Much of the research was gathered by Dr Gill on various trips throughout the UK to libraries and archives. This included London Guildhall Library, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food publications in Scotland, the Imperial War Museum, the Ministry of Defence Library and the Shipping Registers in Gabalfa, Cardiff – where Dr Gill found many of the names of lost Hull trawlermen.

The bulk of the Hull-sourced material came from months of visiting the former H.M. Customs & Excise Office at Portcullis House, now the site of the BBC building in Hull’s Queens Gardens.

Councillor John Fareham, deputy chair of the Hull History Centre Board, said: “This is great news and a very generous gesture. It is impossible for many of us not to think of the fishing industry or Hessle Road without thinking of Alec Gill – it’s a match like fish and chips or Morcombe and Wise.

“That this body of work will soon be available to all via the brilliant archive service is a fantastic selfless gesture that can only broaden and enhance our knowledge of one of the industries that defined Hull and made it the great city it is today.

“Knowledge spread far and wide is what we are here for as an archive service and we thank Alec for helping that aim, and increase understanding.”

His large body of work was the basis upon which Dr Gill was awarded an MBE in 2009 for ‘services to Hull’s fishing community’, and an Honorary Doctorate by The University of Hull in 2010.

Dr Gill has also offered to assist future research academics, post-graduate students, authors and local historians wishing to benefit from his archived research.

He started photographing Hull’s Hessle Road area in 1971.
His first photographic exhibition, The Kids of Hessle Road, was held in 1979.

In celebration of Dr Gill’s Hessle Road photography project turning 50 this year, a Kickstarter campaign has been launched to raise funds to produce a brand-new book of Alec’s long-standing documentary study of Hull’s fishing community.

You can find out more about the campaign here.

Dr Gill’s research is expected to be available at Hull History Centre from late next year.

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