There and Back Again

Humber Museums Partnership - There and Back Again

About There and Back Again

Welcome to There and Back Again, Travelling Stories of Local People.


This exhibition takes you on a journey with both well-known and less famous local people. Their trips have taken them to many places within the United Kingdom, in Europe and to places much further afield. They all had their reasons for leaving their homes and loved ones; some went for their religion, for war, others for business or just for pleasure. Travel has changed a great deal over the centuries. We will explore the different ways of travelling, what it would have cost and how long journeys would have taken.

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  • Humber Road Car Motorcoach outside the Blue Bell Hotel, around 1950

    Humber Road Car Motorcoach outside the Blue Bell Hotel, around 1950
  • Steam packet S.S. Celia on the River Trent, about 1910

    Steam packet S.S. Celia on the River Trent, about 1910


Stagecoaches were introduced in England in the mid seventeenth century. They are named because they would travel in segments or stages of around ten to fifteen miles, before stopping to change horses. An eighteenth century coach fare from York to London would have cost the equivalent of £175 today. Cheaper seats were available on the outside of the coach, although these seats were more uncomfortable and dangerous.
With the rise in traffic during the eighteenth century, a network of turnpike roads developed. They were maintained by trusts established by Parliament and given the right to charge tolls to pay for the upkeep of the roads. The turnpikes considerably improved coach journey times.

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  • Landau outside the Coach and Horses, High Street, Barton upon Humber

    Landau outside the Coach and Horses, High Street, Barton upon Humber
  • The Winterton Express, around 1900

    The Winterton Express, around 1900

Abraham de la Pryme

Abraham de la Pryme was born in the Levels of Hatfield Chase in 1671. His family had settled there in the 1620s after fleeing from religious persecution in Flanders. De la Pryme was a keen diarist and started writing his memoirs, entitled ‘Diary of my own life’ when he was only eleven years old.
He was educated at St John’s College in Cambridge, where he studied natural history, chemistry and magic. He went on to become a curate. He was first based at Broughton, then at Hull. He travelled extensively throughout Lincolnshire and the neighbouring counties, recording his observations in his diary. He was particularly interested in natural history and antiquities. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1702 but sadly died two years later aged just 34.

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  • The grave of Abraham de la Pryme, Hatfield Church

    The grave of Abraham de la Pryme, Hatfield Church

John Harrison

John Harrison grew up in Barrow upon Humber. He trained as a carpenter in his father’s workshop but also taught himself the art of clockmaking. He is famous as the man who solved the Longitude Problem. Longitude and latitude are the co-ordinates used to establish positions on Earth. To calculate longitude it is necessary to be able to tell the time very precisely. Without accurate clocks, navigation at sea was difficult and resulted in the loss of men, ships and cargoes. In 1714, Parliament offered a prize of £20,000 for anyone who could solve the problem of longitude. Harrison completed his first clock in 1735. Over the next 40 years he continued to perfect his design and produced another four clocks.

John and Charley Wesley

John and Charles Wesley were born and raised in Epworth. The two brothers were educated at Christ Church College, Oxford, where they founded a charitable and religious group known as the Holy Club, nicknamed the Methodists by fellow students. The Wesleys journeyed to America in 1735 to act as missionaries. They returned to England a few years later having failed to establish their new ideal church. The brothers travelled all over the United Kingdom to spread the word about their new-found religion, covering thousands of miles on horseback.Charles gave up travelling in 1756 to spend more time with his family. John, on the other hand, remained active for much of his life and continued to preach all over the country.


Prior to the building of the Humber Bridge, the only way to cross the Humber was by boat. In the eleventh century several ferries were established along the banks of the Humber. In 1798 it cost sixpence to take the ferry from Hull to Barton upon Humber. The crossing took about an hour in fine weather. Steamboats were introduced to the Humber in the nineteenth century. These ships could take people further afield, to places such as Gainsborough, Thorne, York and even as far as London. In 1835 the trip to London from Hull took 36 hours. It cost ten shillings for a first class ticket, which is equivalent to around £25 today.A hovercraft service ran between Grimsby and Hull for a short period during the 1960s.


William Fowler was born in Winterton in 1761. He was an accomplished builder, architect and artist and his work took him all over the country.Fowler’s architectural work seems to have taken off in 1796, after he produced a drawing of a Roman mosaic at Winterton. He had the drawing engraved by his brother in law in London and later learned the art of engraving himself. His work achieved great acclaim during his lifetime and recorded archaeological features which might otherwise have been lost. Fowler would travel throughout the United Kingdom to present his engravings to book sellers, antiquarians and wealthy individuals. He would also leave them with bookshops and antique shops to sell for him.

Ethel Rudkin

Ethel Rudkin was born at Willoughton in 1893. She married George Henry Rudkin in 1915 but he was sadly killed in 1918.
She was an enthusiastic collector of material related to a range of subjects, including folklore, archaeology and local history. Although she rarely left Lincolnshire, she travelled widely within the county. Unusually for a woman, she owned a car and would drive herself on her collecting trips. Her house became so full of books, manuscripts and artefacts that she had to store some of her collection in local barns. Researchers would travel from far and wide to come and view the collection.She wrote a series of articles for the Folklore Society’s journal but only one book, Lincolnshire Folklore. It was published at her own expense in 1936.

The Peacock Family

Edward Peacock of Bottesford was a keen collector and trader of antiquities. He was one of the founder members of the English Dialect Society and was the author of a number of both academic studies and popular novels. Three of his children, Mabel, Adrian and Maximilian, joined forces between 1896 and 1903 to travel throughout the county and record particular Lincolnshire words and sayings. As a woman, it wasn’t considered appropriate for Mabel to venture as far afield as her brothers, but she published several books about Lincolnshire words and folklore during her lifetime. The Peacock family’s research was published by the Scunthorpe Museum Society in 1997.

The Reverend John Parkinson

John Parkinson was born in 1754 in West Ravendale. He was educated at Brigg and Louth Grammar Schools and later went on to study at Oxford University. As an educated and comparatively wealthy young man, Parkinson frequently travelled. He wrote down his experiences in his diary. In the summer of 1792 he embarked on a Northern Tour, accompanied by his friend Edward Wilbraham-Bootle. The tour lasted two and a half years and took them through Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine. The two men met a wide range of people on their travels. One of their most significant encounters was with Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia.


The first railway lines in North Lincolnshire were built to carry freight. Scunthorpe’s first station was Frodingham, which was built in 1866. The current station is a more recent replacement and stands in a different location. The North Lindsey Light Railway ran between Scunthorpe and Whitton. The first stage, from Frodingham to West Halton, was opened in 1906. The line was extended to Winteringham in 1907 and to Whitton in 1910. Passenger services ended in 1925 and freight services in 1951. Railway travel largely replaced coach travel. In 1832 a journey from Liverpool to Manchester by coach took four hours and cost ten shillings for an inside seat. By comparison, the same journey by train took 45 minutes and cost 5 shillings.

De Mowbrays

The De Mowbrays were a powerful local family. Henry I rewarded their support with gifts of land, including the whole of the Isle of Axholme. Roger de Mowbray travelled to Normandy in 1146 to defend Bayeaux Castle. A year later he went on his first Crusade to the Holy Land. During the 1170s Roger and his sons took part in the Revolt against Henry II. This resulted in the loss of their castles of Owston Ferry, Kirkby Malzeard and Thirsk. The family took up residence in the Vinegarth, a fortified manor house in Epworth. Roger went on his final Crusade in 1186. According to contemporary accounts he died shortly after being captured in 1187 and is buried in Palestine. There are, however, conflicting reports that claim he returned to England and is buried at Byland Abbey.

Joe Porter Smeeton

Joe Porter Smeeton was born in Scunthorpe in 1918. He joined the Royal Horse Artillery when he was sixteen. After his service was up he worked on the building of the new Post Office Building in Scunthorpe, until he was called on to re-join the army in 1939. He was initially sent to Germany, returning home for a short period before being sent out again in 1941. This time, he travelled to Alexandria in Egypt, where he took care of and trained the war horses. After peace was declared in 1945, Joe volunteered to return to Germany once more in order to arrest members of the Nazi Party. He stayed for six months before finally coming home.

Humber Museums Partnership