Winteringham: Read's Island

Winteringham Local History and Genealogy

Read’s Island

Parish Boundaries of Winteringham

Read’s Island is approximately 90% inside Winteringham’s Parish Boundary, and 10% in South Ferriby’s as this relief map of the parish shows.

Read's Isalnd Summer 1965

Read’s Island as many will remember it - complete with the sole house there.

This view was taken in the summer of 1965

The Lady of Shallott ...

Did Lincolnshire’s Poet Laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson use Read’s Island for inspiration in his “Lady of Shallott”?

The river-island in the poem bears some similarities with ‘our’ island - giving some credence to the theory, but he wrote the first draft of the poem in 1832...

Note: We use the spelling of Read’s Island with the apostrophe s, as this is used on ordnance survey and other maps.  Other sites may use the name without an apostrophe, or even Reeds Island.  To find all web references to the island, use searches with our spelling and without the apostrophe, and with “ee”!

As you will read elsewhere on the site, there are many stories of the dangers of the Humber, and of the shifting sandbanks, where, among others, Henry Kirke White was stranded.  Greater danger is caused because the sandbanks and the river bed are constantly in a state of change, and what was a safe deep water channel one month, may well not be so the next.  Perhaps the best impression of this can be gained from the A1077 above South Ferriby on the Barton Road.

The most dramatic example of the constantly-changing river is Read’s Island, and the channel to the south between the ‘mainland’ and the island.  Where that channel is now were once brickworks and cottages, but these were swept away by the unforgiving water.

One sandbank though - known as Old Warp, is believed to be the origin of Read’s Island.  Whether this creation was just part of the pattern described, or the new cut of the River Ancholme playing its part, or even the sinking of a French vessel cannot be certainly stated, but by the early part of the 19th century, the island was coming into existence and grass was observed growing there.

Quite soon after this, the Read Brothers began using the island, and reclaiming further land from the Humber by building mud walls, behind which further mud was deposited.  They also dug a fresh-water well.  By the time of the 1861 census the family of William Foster lived on the island in a small wooden cottage.

According to a story in Lucy Wood's "Little Book of Lincolnshire,” Read's Island was the scene of cannibalism by a wolfman in the 1800s.  The wolfman was tried for cannibalism, and hanged for his crimes!

The banks needed constant attention, and Mr Frost told me of the time he was employed to deposit rocks from barges to help protect the island.  (Mr Frost wrote many of his experiences in and around Winteringham in exercise books and loaned them to me during the 1970s ... how valuable they would be for us!)

A brick house was built, which had its own wind-powered generator, with farm outbuildings for the grazing animals kept there.

With the island being on the ‘outside bend’ of the river, ships, boats and barges navigating the tricky channels more often than not came very close to Read’s Island, sometimes to the north of it, and occasionally to the south.

A recent deer count has noted 43 of the animals on the island.  Lagoons have also been dug to attract wildlife and the island is now home to many pairs of avocets. (Information from Harry Wells, and Mr Mouncey, river warden).

Read's Island July 1991 This view of the central part of the island gives a good impression of its nature, since the house was demolished.  The chimney in the background is the copper-smelting plant on the Yorkshire side of the river - since demolished. This photo: July 1991

Humber Bridge viewed over Read's IslandThe eastern end of the island, the south channel, and the Humber Bridge.  This photo: July 1991

Read's Island with shipping channel to north

In July 1991, when this photograph was taken, the channel was to the north of the island - though you can gauge just how close to the island it was!

Read's Island with shipping channel to south

By July 1993, the channel had shifted to the south of the island, as can be seen from this boat making its way up river.

Buoy at western end of Read's Island July 1993

Looking up river with the western end of Read’s Island to the right of the marker buoy. July 1993

Mrs J Parker has contacted the site with further information of Read’s Island:

My father Laurance Kirkby lived on there with his Mother and Father who farmed it at the time.  It would be between 1920-1925.  The tales he used to tell us about having to row himself to school and then couldnt get back home because of the tied.  My Uncle Dick Kirkby also lived there, and was gored by a  bull,  his dog saved him but sadly died and was awarded an animal award of something.  He and his brother used to move people from one side to another in an old barge for pocket money.
In latter years I myself used to go with my late husband moving cattle onto the island around in the early fifties.”


From the “Hull Packet” of 28th July 1882:


The annual meeting of the Humber Conservancy Commissioners was held at the Town Hall Hull yesterday [27th July 1882]
Payment to Her Majesty's Office of Woods of eleven instalments of the purchase money of Read [sic] Island had been made, and of the original purchase money of that island only 4,050 now remained unpaid.  Consols to the amount of 2,093 10s had been purchased, and formed a sinking fund towards the discharge of the two existing mortgages, and the balance at the bank, which at 31st December last was 1,665 1s 11d, had now increased to 3,499 1s 7d.”



Have you tried the other Winteringham Websites?
Winteringham News, Don Burton World of NaturePhoto Archive (modern photographs of the village), What the Papers have said about Winteringham (since July 2004), High Resolution Historical Photographs, Winteringham Film Archive, Winteringham Nature Site, Winteringham Recipes, Winteringham Camera Club, Winteringham Village Hall, Winteringham Chapel


If you have difficulty using the “Contact Winteringham” button, then simply cut and paste into your email.

Winteringham Info Favicon