Brave few who conquered the Humber the hard way
They have crossed it by primitive boats, by hovercraft and ferry and now by the Humber Bridge. But for some, the Humber estuary has also been conquered the hard way – on foot.
The latest man to hit the headlines by wading the river was Hull businessman Graham Boanas, who, in 2005, made the crossing in aid of charity, a feat that took him four hours to complete.
But over the years there had been many others.
Some believe Julius Caesar made the crossing in AD 34 as did Roman legions around that time but there is no real proof of this.
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There is, though, confirmation that Lord Noel Buxton walked across in August 1953. To start his walk he was taken by boat from Brough Haven across the first few feet of the deep water channel and left on the nearest sandbank. The walk took him an hour and he told reporters that at no time was he more than waist deep in water.
His crossing was recalled in a 1974 booklet produced by Hull Junior Chamber of Commerce which said that earlier Humber walkers had, in 1938, not only made the crossing, but then turned around and gone back, completing the walks in under two and a half hours.
Another crossing is said to have been made by Mr WA Wright, of North Ferriby, and Mr EH Ford who took a similar route to Lord Buxton some time before 1923.
In more recent times, two south bank men attempted to walk the estuary in September 1984, but failed by 40 yards when a tidal bore charged up the river.
But others had different ideas on how to cross the river and among them was Irwin Hale, of West Ella, who swam the estuary three times while taking part in what was known as the championship crossing held from 1906 to 1913, taking a course from New Holland to Hull Pier. His 1913 swim was at that time a record-breaking one hour and one minute.
The race was discontinued during the First World War and after the conflict, mounting problems of pollution meant it was never held again.
At the time of his first victory in 1910 Mr Hale was 15 years and ten months old. On winning his third consecutive race he also won the trophy outright.
The race started at New Holland Pier and contestants had to aim for a clock tower positioned near a T-bridge at St Andrew's Dock always keeping it in sight to keep on the right course. Each man followed a boat that could be used in an emergency but all were under surveillance from the Race Committee tug at all times. After finishing all competitors were taken to the Minerva Hotel for a hot bath and refreshments.
The Junior Chamber booklet said that apart from the years 1906 to 1913 another recorded crossing of the river by a swimmer – 17-year- old Frank L Wagner, of Hull – was on Sunday, August 25, 1928. At one point weather conditions were so bad he was forced to tread water for ten to 15 minutes.
Frank, a junior clerk at Hull Technical College, left New Holland Pier at 3.35pm and arrived at Hull Victoria Pier at 5.40pm.
But while Hull swimmers have played their part in Humber history one South Bank man holds a record that may never be beaten.
Pete Winchester, of Holton le Clay, near Grimsby, has swum the estuary an amazing 68 times, the shortest crossing being just two hours. Many of these crossings have been made in the Christmas Day swim by Grimsby and Cleethorpes Amateur Swimming Association.
Known as "King of the Humber", Pete is said to be the only man to have completed a remarkable swim from Hessle Foreshore to Grimsby Dock Basin.