Beyond the Silver Pit is a new project by the poet Adelle Stripe that explores the lives of Hull’s Hessle Rd fishing community in the 19thcentury. Using archival research and her own family history, she is creating a narrative poem in ten parts that reveals the story of her great great great grandfather, Matthew Gains Mudd, who was lost at sea on Dogger Bank in the great storm of December 1894.
A hurricane which took the lives of 108 men, this tragic event began on the winter solstice, and destroyed eight smack boats and five steam trawlers around the Silver Pit fishing area, approximately seventy miles north-east from Spurn Point. This region is known for its lucrative fishing grounds but also suffers from hazardous conditions in its shallow waters. It was once known as ‘The Cemetery’ due to the amount of wrecks on the sea bed. In the pre-Ice Age era Dogger was the piece of land that joined Britain to mainland Europe. Fishermen have been known to pull up oak trees, mammoth skeletons and peat soil in their nets when fishing in the area.
As part of the project Stripe has travelled to Iceland to speak to local fishermen about the historic links between Hull and Reykjavik, and the waters which were fished by Hull crews up until the Cod Wars of the 1970s. Her research has discovered that Matthew Gains Mudd was a crew member on steam trawlers that fished in Icelandic waters, an area which was particularly treacherous in the bleak mid-winter. She has also spoken to fishermen in the Holderness area who regularly fish in the Silver Pit.
Drawing on local folklore, oral histories, hydrographic maps and archive material from Hull History Centre, Beyond the Silver Pit reveals the story of the final fatal voyage of Matthew Gains Mudd, and his battle against the tempestuous nature and savage beauty of the North Sea.
As part of the project Stripe will be collaborating with typographer Trevor Johnson, who is most well known for his work with Factory Records, and lighting designer Nick Malbon, to create a captivating multi-media installation at Manchester Central Library.
Picture: @Hull Museums
This project is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.