Chamber’s secret of longevity to be marked at anniversary lunch

EIGHTEEN thirty seven was a year of new beginnings for Hull, and Britain.

It’s best remembered as the year Queen Victoria came to the throne, ushering in an era of intellectual revolution and imperial expansion.

Over in Hull, paint manufacturer Henry Blundell, shipbuilder Thomas Earle, shipping magnate Thomas Wilson, and the retailer William Jackson decided it was time to put their city on the corporate map.

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So they founded a chamber of commerce, which is still going strong today.

A lunch to mark the chamber’s remarkable staying power is being held next month. There had been mutterings about the need to create a formal society to boost Hull’s trade as long ago as the 1780s.

Sadly, talk did not lead to action.

In 1801, efforts to establish a chamber of commerce in Hull foundered on what was drily described by a local historian as “the baneful influence of party politics”.

But, 175 years ago, the great and the good rose above petty squabbles and finally got their act together. At the time, chambers were being established across Britain in response to the challenges of the industrial revolution. A chronicle of Hull chamber’s early history recorded the presentation of a great number of “petitions, prayers and memoranda to both Houses of Parliament...”

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The subjects ranged from parochial issues such as the grinding of imported corn, to the need for improved communications with London. Some needs, it seems, never change. Today, Hull hopes to boom on the back of a massive investment in renewable energy.

Hull chamber is hosting a 175th anniversary lunch in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour in Hull’s Guildhall on March 1, where Messrs Blundell, Earle, Wilson and Jackson will be remembered.