Argyle Street was originally called Asylum Lane, as it led north from Anlaby Road to an asylum, first established as the Hull & East Riding Refuge for the Insane in 1838. The refuge was developed by Dr John Alderson, and surgeon Richard Casson, and was improved in 1849 when the Commissioners in Lunacy improved the buildings to the level of an Asylum when the corporation acquired the premises. The refuge is shown on Wilkinson’s plan of Hull in 1848, and was entered via a small track from Anlaby Road. Following its improvement, a second entrance was made from Spring Bank, as the old track entrance was less than satisfactory. Historian Dr Bickford describes the lane in his history of the asylum: -
“From the turnpike, Asylum Lane, (now Argyle Street), led up to the asylum crossing over the Hull and Selby and Bridlington railway lines, and it was soon in a deplorable state. For some twenty years it was unlit, and its surface was so bad that the drivers of carriages often refused to go along it to take old and frail patients over such a surface, which was to risk killing them as a consequence of the jolting they would receive. The roadway as far as the first railway line was dirty and there were holes, or rather pools of thick watery mud. The nearer the asylum was approached the deeper the holes became. After the second railway crossing, not only did the lane get worse but the footpath disappeared, and was replaced by a deep unenclosed ditch on either side. To try and reach the asylum after dark without a lantern was so risky as to make its traverse extremely hazardous. Mrs Casson and her children were rendered more or less recluses.”
As the area around the asylum was built upon, the new residents objected to the name, and it was changed to Argyle Street, by resolution of the Board of Health in October 1861. However, the lane was still being referred to as Asylum Lane in 1879, when numerous letters of complaint in the press noted that the north end, which ran to Spring Bank, was still not made-up. This end of the lane possibly retained the old name, before being officially designated as Derringham Street. By 1852 access could also be gained to the asylum by a circuitous route from Spring Bank via Derringham Street, Trinity Street and a short lane that was later improved to become Londesborough Street. The new name, Argyle Street, was possibly chosen to fit with other “royalist” names in the area; directly opposite across Anlaby Road were Regent Street, Victoria Terrace, Albert Terrace, and the Argyle public house. However, Argyle Farm was listed at the north of the old lane in trade directories of the time, and may have been another inspiration for the name.
Cricket had been played on a ground to the south of the old Asylum since at least 1857, when it was recorded there in a newspaper article; the ground was the new home of the Hull Town Cricket Club by 1864 following thier move from the Brown Cow Field (see earlier). The Argyle Street ground was small and balls were frequently hit over the boundary into the grounds of the asylum. The world famous cricketer W G Grace played on the ground in an 1875 match between the south and north of England teams. In 1888 a grandstand was erected on the asylum side of the ground, which was later moved to the club’s new home - The Circle (see later). The last match played at Argyle Street was against Halifax on 18 September 1897, although the pavilion was used for meetings during the construction of the new site. Everything, including the turf, was gradually removed to the new site during the following year.
A railway bridge over the long-established lines, was constructed c.1887, at a predicted cost of £6,500. A meeting had been held regarding many new bridges in Hull, including Argyle Street, and was reported in the Hull Times of 24 April 1886 (page 7). The Argyle Street Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1895, and cost £5,500. It was designed by W A Gelder in the Romanesque style, of white brick with stone dressings, and could seat 1,000. It was situated on the north-east side of the street, and survived until closure in 1959. The main building was demolished by 1964, but a later school room of 1910, designed by Gelder & Kitchen, survives to the present day and has long been the home of the Hull Sea Cadets. Argyle Street was the victim of another compulsory purchase order in 1972, from which point almost all of the property in the area was systematically demolished; demolition continued until the early 1980s.
At the south-east corner of Argyle Street, was a cluster of street furniture; a cabman’s shelter was located on the Anlaby Road side, with a seat set in to the wall of the Work House, alongside the footpath. Both of these enabled passers by to take advantage of a drinking fountain, set in the wall at this point. This was one of earliest street drinking fountains in Hull, and was presented to the town by Alderman Fountain in 1858. Situated at the opposite (western) corner of Argyle Street, was Argyle House, built c.1869 as a huge five-bay house adjoined by a terrace of smaller, three-bay houses, known as Crown Terrace. Later, known simply as No.190 Anlaby Road, Argyle House was home to surgeons and the like until c.1915, when it was taken over by the National Union of Railwaymen’s Institute, which it remained until the 1950s. Later known as The Argyle Club for some years, from the late 1950s it was converted to flats, which was to be the fate of most of the terrace. Sadly, Argyle House was demolished in October 1975, and the site was latterly used as a car showroom, with portions of the demolished walls of the house surviving on the perimeter. The entrance of the hospital car park now marks the site.
Crown Terrace consisted of six houses adjoining Argyle House, and another four further west beyond a church that intersected the terrace (see below). Crown Terrace had been converted, mostly to offices, by the 1920s, and was home to the St John’s Ambulance Brigade, and other welfare organisations. Latterly, some of the fine Victorian houses were home to auctioneer Gilbert Baitson’s curiously named Edwardian Auction Rooms, with a familiar Hull landmark; a statue resembling King Edward VII, in the front garden.