Hepworth Arcade, Hull


Hepworth Arcade is next door to the covered market in the Old Town of Hull. There’s colourful, decorative ironwork above both main entrances to the arcade, with a high glass ceiling, pleasingly curved, taking the gaze upwards, and attractively painted mouldings above the shops running along the arcade’s two lengths. The name of the arcade appears on the inside above the entrance arches, but also on a pub-style sign hanging by the entrance in Silver Street, with the arcade’s opening year, 1894, clearly marked below the name.

This arcade in Hull was named after Joseph Hepworth, whose tailoring business started in West Yorkshire, but whose brand name was still familiar to shoppers into the second half of the 20th century (Next stores today grew from the Hepworth’s chain). A large mural advertising Hepworth’s still catches the eye towards one end of this arcade.

My favourite shop today

Dinsdale’s joke shop has to be my pick, simply because I first shopped here over 50 years ago, when I’d buy things like big black spiders to try to scare my sisters (and they still sell those fake spiders today). On our pre-Christmas visit in 2022, we were pleased to see the shop still full of kids (and parents) keeping the owner Graham too busy to chat to us about stories past…

My pick of the arcade’s past

Two boys, both called George, appeared in court in January 1896, accused of stealing items from Forrester’s in the arcade. One of the boys’ parents said her son had been behaving badly ever since Hull Fair (an annual travelling fair in October each year, and still in Hull every year).  Another lad named George was up in court for stealing a telescope, a mouth organ and a tuning fork from the same shop a few months later.

One of the first branches of Marks & Spencer’s set up in Hepworth Arcade. It was known then as Marks & Spencer’s Bazaar (or simply the Penny Bazaar). A “tall, respectably-dressed woman” was found guilty of stealing two jellies, two pairs of bootlaces and a chocolate bar from the bazaar in 1909. She said in court she wouldn’t have done it if her friend hadn’t given her a glass of whisky beforehand (and she was normally a member of the Temperance movement).

In 1938, George Dinsdale, whose joke shop is still operating today in Hepworth Arcade, had to appear in court over his ‘fake’ pound notes, which were advertised as ‘stage money’ and bore the wording “All that glitters is not gold.” You could buy 100 of these for just over a shilling, but somebody had tried to use one to buy some goods in a nearby tobacconist’s and been handed over 19s in change, before the shopkeeper realized he had been duped. The case against Dinsdale was dismissed as he clearly had no intent to deceive. In his defence, his counsel had taken an example of the notes to a blind man, who could tell by feel that this was not a real pound note.

Stories courtesy of www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk The British Library Board, Reach PLC, Hull Daily Mail: 1) 22 January 1896; 2) 13 December 1909; 3) 26 October 1938.

This arcade in films or books

Graham Hardy, who ran a lingerie shop in the arcade, wrote a book on the history of Hepworth Arcade in  1996, called: “Hepworth’s Arcade: 100 years of trading”

What’s your favourite shop in the arcade today?

What memories do you have of visits in years gone by?

Have you got any good stories to add on the past of this arcade?

Have you seen Hepworth Arcade in any other film or book?

Is there a website for this arcade?

Hepworth Arcade in Hull does not have its own website, but us active on social media: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

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