Humber Bridge.png
Humber Bridge viewed from the south-east
Humber is located in England
Mouth of the Humber
CountiesEast Riding of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire
TownGrimsby, Immingham, Barton upon Humber, Cleethorpes
Physical characteristics
 - locationTrent Falls
 - coordinates53°42′03″N 0°41′28″W / 53°42′03″N 0°41′28″W / 53.7008; -0.6911
 - locationNorth Sea, between Spurn Head
 - coordinates53°32′34″N 0°05′32″E / 53°32′34″N 0°05′32″E / 53.5427; 0.09231,500 m3/s (53,000 cu ft/s)[1]
Basin features
 - leftRiver Ouse, River Hull
 - rightRiver Trent, River Ancholme, River Freshney
Official nameHumber Estuary
Designated28 July 1994
Reference no.663[2]
River Hull tidal barrier. Situated at the end of the River Hull where it meets the Humber
The Humber Estuary and Spurn Head looking north-east from over North Lincolnshire
Historical railway map of Hull showing the ferry route and the layout of docks

The Humber ər/ is a large tidal estuary on the east coast of Northern England. It is formed at Trent Falls, Faxfleet, by the confluence of the tidal rivers Ouse and Trent. From there to the North Sea, it forms part of the boundary between the East Riding of Yorkshire on the north bank and North Lincolnshire on the south bank. Although the Humber is an estuary from the point at which it is formed, many maps show it as the River Humber.[3]

Below Trent Falls, the Humber passes the junction with the Market Weighton Canal on the north shore, the confluence of the River Ancholme on the south shore; between North Ferriby and South Ferriby and under the Humber Bridge; between Barton-upon-Humber on the south bank and Kingston upon Hull on the north bank (where the River Hull joins), then meets the North Sea between Cleethorpes on the Lincolnshire side and the long and thin headland of Spurn Head to the north.

Ports on the Humber include the Port of Hull, Port of Grimsby, Port of Immingham, as well as lesser ports at New Holland and North Killingholme Haven. The estuary is navigable for the largest of deep-sea vessels. Inland connections for smaller craft are extensive but handle only a quarter of the goods traffic handled in the Thames.[4]


The Humber is now an estuary. When the world sea level was lower during the Ice Ages, the Humber had a long freshwater course across what was then the dry bed of the North Sea.[citation needed]

Classical authors knew the Humber as the Abus (Ancient Greek: Ἄβος),[5] which was one of the principal rivers, or rather estuaries in the Roman province of Maxima Caesariensis in Britain. It was reported as receiving many tributaries, and discharging itself into the German Ocean (the North Sea) south of Ocelum Promontorium (Spurn Head). Its left bank was inhabited by the Celtic tribe, whom the Romans entitled Parisi, but according to a medieval poet, no great town or city anciently stood on its banks.[6]

In the Anglo-Saxon period, the Humber was a major boundary, separating Northumbria from the southern kingdom, though at its height Northumbria did cover areas south of the Humber. The Kingdom of Lindsey, which today is Northern Lincolnshire, was part of Northumbria before being lost to Mercia. The name Northumbria came from Anglo-Saxon Norðhymbre (plural) = "the people north of the Humber".[7] The Humber currently forms the boundary between the East Riding of Yorkshire, to the north and North and North East Lincolnshire, to the south.

In the 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe, the eponymous protagonist leaves England on a ship departing from The Humber.

From 1974 to 1996, the areas now known as the East Riding of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire constituted the county of Humberside.

On 23 August 1921, the British airship R38 crashed into the estuary near Hull, killing 44 of the 49 crew on board.[8]


The estuary's only modern crossing is the Humber Bridge, which was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world from its construction in 1981 until 1998. It is now the ninth longest.

Before the bridge was built, a series of paddle steamers operated from the Corporation Pier railway station[9] at the Victoria Pier in Hull to the railway pier in New Holland. Steam ferries started in 1841, and in 1848 were purchased by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. They, and their successors, ran the ferry until the bridge opened in 1981.[9] Railway passenger and car traffic continued to use the pier until the end of ferry operations.[10]

The line of the bridge is similar to an ancient ferry route from Hessle to Barton upon Humber, which is noted in the Domesday Book and in a charter of 1281. The ferry was recorded as still operating in 1856, into the railway era.[11] The Humber was then one mile (1.6 km) across.[12]


The Humber Forts were built in the mouth of the river for the First World War. Planned in 1914, their construction started in 1915 and they were not completed until 1919.[13][14] A coastal battery at Easington, Fort Goodwin or Kilnsea Battery, faced the Bull Sands Fort.[15] They were also garrisoned during the Second World War, and were finally abandoned for military use in 1956.

Fort Paull is further upstream, a Napoleonic-era emplacement replaced in the early 20th century by Stallinborough Battery opposite Sunk Island.[16]

Crossing on foot

Graham Boanas, a Hull man, is believed to be the first man to succeed in wading across the Humber since ancient Roman times. The feat, in August 2005, was attempted to raise cash and awareness for the medical research charity, DebRA. He started his trek on the north bank at Brough; four hours later, he emerged on the south bank at Whitton. He is 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m) tall and took advantage of a very low tide.[17] He replicated this achievement on the television programme Top Gear (Series 10 Episode 6) when he raced James May who drove an Alfa Romeo 159 around the inland part of the estuary without using the Humber Bridge.

Crossing by swimming

On Saturday 26 August 1911, Alice Maud Boyall became the first woman to swim the Humber. Boyall, then aged 19 and living in Hull, was the Yorkshire swimming champion. She crossed the Humber from Hull to New Holland Pier swimming the distance in 50 minutes, 6 minutes slower than the men's record.[18]

Since 2011 Warners Health have organised the 'Warners Health Humber Charity Business Swim'. Twelve swimmers from companies across the Yorkshire region train and swim in an ellipse from the south bank to the north bank of the river under the Humber Bridge over a total distance of approximately 1 12 miles (2.4 km).[19]

The Humber from the International Space Station
Other Languages
العربية: الهمبر
беларуская: Хамбер
български: Хъмбър
català: Humber
Cebuano: River Humber
Cymraeg: Afon Humber
dansk: Humber
español: Humber
Esperanto: Humber (rivero)
euskara: Humber
فارسی: هامبر
français: Humber
galego: Humber
한국어: 험버강
հայերեն: Համբեր (գետ)
hrvatski: Humber
italiano: Humber
עברית: האמבר
Kiswahili: Mto Humber
magyar: Humber
Nederlands: Humber (estuarium)
norsk: Humber
norsk nynorsk: Humber
polski: Humber
português: Humber
Simple English: River Humber
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Humber
suomi: Humber
svenska: Humber
Türkçe: Humber
українська: Гамбер (річка)
中文: 亨伯