Truelove: From War to Whaler
#IMAGE##SUBHEADING#Spoils of War#SUBHEADINGEND# The 'Truelove' was built in Philadelphia in 1764 and came into English hands during the American War of Independence where she had been used as a privateer. She was sold to John Voase, a wine merchant and ship owner in Hull, and was converted into a whaling ship. The 'Truelove' made over 80 voyages, killing over 500 whales as well as seals, walruses, narwhals and polar bears. The 'Truelove' also brought wine from Oporto and for 9 years she engaged in general trade with the Baltic ports. In 1835 the 'Truelove' was one of a fleet trapped in ice in Melville Bay, Greenland. Twenty of the fleet were crushed but 'Truelove' survived unharmed. Captain Wells described her as 'handy as a cutter, safe as a lifeboat, and tight as a bottle'. #IMAGE# #SUBHEADING#Visitors from Greenland#SUBHEADINGEND# In 1847 Captain John Parker brought a couple back from the Nyatlick in the Cumberland Straits to Hull on the 'Truelove'. The couple called Memiadluk and Uckaluk were brought to England to highlight the poor conditions in their homeland and after arriving in Hull they took part in talks in Manchester and York. Before their departure plaster casts were made of their heads as well as the head of Captain Parker and these are now displayed in the Hull Maritime Museum. Memiadluk and Uckaluk were given a variety of gifts by their hosts before they left but unfortunately on the return journey to Cumberland South Uckaluk died after there was an outbreak of Measles on board. #SUBHEADING#End of an Era#SUBHEADINGEND# The 'Truelove' was the last of the Hull whalers and sailed alongside the steam powered whaling vessels in the 1850's and 60's. In 1873 she travelled to her home port of Philadelphia and was presented with a flag in honour of her 'birth' there 109 years earlier. After her visit to Philadelphia there were calls to have her made into a floating museum but this never came about and she ended her days as a bulk on the Thames before she was finally broken up in the late 1890's. The 'Truelove' was in use for over 130 years, outliving all other vessels of her class who were built at the same time. #IMAGE# #SUBHEADING#Some Captains of the Truelove#SUBHEADINGEND# John Parker was Captain of the 'Truelove' for 17 years and was a master on the whalers for 27 years - a record that was unsurpassed by any other Captain. William Barron was the youngest apprentice on board the 'Truelove' when he set sail along with Captain John Parker in 1849 for that season's whaling. He would work his way up to Captain by 1861 becoming one of Hull's most noted whaling captains. William Wells sailed in whalers between 1844 and 1863. After coming ashore he became Haven Master of Hull and advisor to the Arctic explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith.
At one time a great number of whaling ships and their crew set sail from Hull but that was all to change. In 1866 the Diana set sail on a whaling expedition but its perilous journey proved the dangerous nature of the occupation and the struggles faced by sailors. She became Hull's last whaling ship, read on to find out why.
The methods used to catch whales did not vary much throughout the years but the weaponry evolved as whalers developed more efficient ways to kill their catch. Discover the different types of weapons used to catch whales from the simple hand harpoon to the explosive bomb lance.
The first whaling ships left the port of Hull in 1598, soon after the discovery of Greenland. The industry was thriving by the early nineteenth century after many recessions and revivals. During the years 1815-1825 Hull had 2000 men employed in the trade and she could boast over 60 whaling vessels making it the largest fleet in Britain. Using our important collections to illustrate, this section of our website explores Hull's whaling history from its peak to its decline in the mid to late nineteenth century.
Sailors could be at sea for months at a time when searching the arctic seas for a catch. Inevitably they had time on their hands and a wealth of teeth and bones from marine animals at their fingertips - the result was the unique and fascinating craft of scrimshaw. Read on to find out more.
Have you looked at the galleries and read the stories about Hulls whaling heritage? Test your knowledge on whaling ships, weapons, captains and crew. Get all eight questions right and become a whaling whiz!
At its height Hull could boast one of the largest and most successful whaling fleets in Britain. Discover how it all began, how the whalers' braved arctic conditions to catch their whales and how the introduction of steam powered vessels signalled a decline for the Hull whaler.