The Wilberforce Monument

commemorative trowel

William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce, former MP for Yorkshire and anti-slave trade campaigner, died on 29th July 1833 at Cadogen Square, London. Wilberforce who was born in Hull was held in high esteem by the city and within 5 days of his death the Mayor was petitioned for a permanent memorial to Wilberforce's life and work paid for by public donation.

The Monument

Early in 1834 Mr W H Clark of Leeds was commissioned to submit designs for a Doric column monument and to supervise the works, although Myers & Wilson of Carr Lane built it.

Wilberforce Monument, HullThe monument is 102 feet high in total. The column is 90 feet and the statue on top is 12 feet tall, carved out of hard-wearing millstone grit. The statue was, in fact, an after-thought by the monument committee. It was sculpted by a Mr Feort in Dock Street and erected on the column in November 1835.

The position of the monument was a contested one. Sites such as Belle Vue on Humber Bank with public gardens, the road junction of George Street and Saville Street, the oval in Kingston Square, and the end of Queen Street near the Humber were all suggested but in the end the position at the end of Whitefriargate near Princes Quay dock was agreed upon. This is now the entrance to Princes Quay Shopping Centre.

The monument foundation was laid by Richard Bethel MP on 1st August 1834, the same day as the abolition of slavery in the British Colonies. A cause that Wilberforce had been passionate about, and had fought for in parliament.

The total cost of the monument was 1,250 pounds that's 90,500 pounds in today's money.

A New Site

The monument stood by Princes Dock for almost 100 years until Queens Dock closed in the 1930s. A new road layout was proposed for Queen Victoria Square area and the monument was making traffic flow very difficult - a new home had to be found.