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THE CHANGING FACE OF BARTON
IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

"Though Barton has a modern appearance, it is a place of great antiquity...", so says White's Directory of Lincolnshire, 1872. In the period between 1800 and 1900 Barton changed from being a market town, largely dependent upon local fanning and related industries and local maritime trade, to a modern, rapidly growing town with various thriving factories - a place that was in step with national trends.
The main reasons for Barton's "modem appearance" might be summarised:
  • Population growth, attracted by
  • Agricultural and industrial revolution, which led to
  • New housing and urban improvements, and
  • Social evolution.
  • Population
In the 19th Century the population of Barton trebled - from 1709 in 1801 to 3866 in 1851 and 5761 in 1901. (The national figure rose from 10 million in 1801 to 30 million by 1901.)


Agricultural Revolution

The main change - a change which transformed the countryside from its medieval pattem - came about through the 'enclosure' of the parish, by Act of Parliament, between 1793 and 1796. Prior to Enclosure the countryside consisted of three large 'fields' together with the 'Ings' or 'Pasture'. At Enclosure, the land was given to individual owners. Miles of new roads were constructed, and scores of miles of hedges planted to surround the new fields. The farmers were now able to build farm-houses, cottages and 'model farm buildings on their newly awarded land; whereas before all the many farmsteads had to be in the Old Enclosure (loosely, that would have been the built-up part of Barton).
In the Market Place, a Corn Exchange and Buttercross was opened in 1854. (It is now the Constitutional Club.)


Industrial Revolution

Alongside major factories, the 19th century saw the expansion of some of Barton's long-established industries, mostly associated with agriculture: malting, brewing, tanning and leatherwork (a Barton saddle won first prize in the Great Exhibition of 1851), tallow candle making, and corn milling (wind power, later supplemented by gas engines, replacing water mills). The brick windmill in Hewsons Lane (one of several which existed in this town) was built in 1813 to a high standard of finish and incorporated the latest state of technology. 'The Farmers' Company', which later became Brit Ag, was established in 1874 to manufacture agricultural fertilisers.
Rope and sack-cloth manufacture was another long-established industry, which shared in this 19th century expansion. At this time there were several 'rope-walks' in Barton, but that of Mr John Hall on the bank of Barton ilaven was the principal one. This factory's output more than quadrupled in this period. The company had a stand at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and by 1900 50% of their output went to the Wilson Shipping Line, the world's largest private shipping company.

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Barton's ship building and its maritime trade continued, the Humber being regarded as a highway, rather than the present barrier. Many goods were taken out and brought into the town by river. A Coastguard Station (now the Old Boathouse Visitor Centre) was opened in 1880 by the Duke of Edinburgh; the Head Coastguard living in Beach House adjoining his Station, whilst the other coastguards occupied Humber Terrace to the south.
Local minerals played a vital part in the development of 19th century Barton. Brick and tile yards, formerly in a small way to meet local needs (near the head of the Haven), steadily developed along the Humber Bank: one yard in the 18th century, 4 in 1826, 5 in 1861, 15 in 1900 when the industry had reached its peak. Barton was at the centre of this expanding industry which has left as its reminder the present Clay Pits Country Park!
Chalk and limestone were extensively quarried in Barton for the manufacture of whiting, quick lime, stone and, together with clay, in the production of cement. Three whiting mills were found in the Waterside area, one of which - Victoria mill, between Castledyke West and Dam Road - operated until 1952, using chalk from the quarry at the bottom of Ferriby Road. A lime kiln still survives in the quarry further up this road. Remains of a cement works may be seen on the Humber Bank to the west of Westfield Lakes Hotel. 'Barton Cliff was formed through years of chalk stone extraction. For over a century Barton and Cycle Manufacture have been synonymous. Founded in 1880, the finn of F. Hopper & Co. rapidly outgrew the Whitesmiths Shop and premises on Brigg Road and expanded into St Mary's Works to the north of St Mary's Church. Cycles were eventually exported by the train-load to all parts of the world, and Hoppers became the world's largest cycle factory (Lee's Barton Directory: 1922).

New Housing & Urban Improvements

Although during the first half of the nineteenth century the number of houses doubled to keep pace with Barton's growing population, there was only one new road made - Queen Street, and this was not really a residential street at that time. The houses were largely accommodated by in-filling and development on existing frontages on the town centre streets. In the last 50 years of the century the housing stock continued to keep pace with the population growth, but still very few new roads were formed except in Waterside and Victoria Terrace, off Dam Road. The development occurred mainly along the eastern end of Dam Road, West Acridge, Westfield Road, Far Ings, Pasture Road, south end of Marsh Lane, and Holydyke. Larger houses such as 'Providence House', 'Priestgate House', 'Cliff House' (Humber Bridge Hotel), 'Eagle House', 'Yule House', 'Brantwood'and 'Tentercroft' provide a variety of architecture and building materials.
Inevitably a rapid rise in population together with a demand for better standards led to much basic improvement of the town's infrastructure: sewers began to be laid in the streets from about 1845; in the same year the Gas Works were constructed on Dam Road; paving and footpaths began in the 1850's. The railway came to Barton in 1849, and this led to the demise of the centuries old Barton Ferry. The Cemetery on Barrow Road opened in 1867 to replace the use of the Churchyards for burials. By 1887 a waterworks was being constructed on Caistor Road.

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Social Evolution

The nineteenth century saw strides being taken (not without great effort) to improve the standard of education amongst poorer children. Several public schools were opened - the Church School on Queen Street and the Wesleyan School on the site of the Lecture Hall in Holydyke (both 1845); the new Wesleyan School (now Youth Centre) on Maltby Lane 1867; and a Roman Catholic School on Fleetgate.
The rapid growth of non-conformity led to the erection of several large churches and chapels - Congregational U.R.C., 1806; three Wesleyan -the latest c1860 in Chapel Lane; three Primitive Methodist - latest 1867 in Queen Street (now the Salvation Army); a Roman Catholic church in 1842 in Priestgate; a Church of England mission church [St. Chads] on Ropery Lane to serve Waterside, along with a Wesleyan Mission Chapel on Waterside Road.
Self-help was very evident in the last [nineteenth] century. The impressive Oddfellows Hall (1864) on Queen Street provides a vivid reminder of this aspect of Victorian society. The 'Temperence Hall' of 1843 (now Assembly Rooms) again could tell its own tale.
Much of what we now take for granted - public services, town and landscape - is very much rooted in how our town developed in the last [nineteenth] century.
John French [with permission]

Barton-upon-Humber Civic Society Newsletter (1994) 10-12

 

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