The Chocolate Factory
The Chocolate Factory Studios will leave you feeling less than sweet.
This former tallow mill is in the heart of the industrial area of the ancient parish of Sculcoates with the River Hull on the eastern side, and Wincolmlee on the other side, this is a mammoth building that will shock and surprise. The present building can be traced back to the 1840’s when John Petchell, a merchant and seed crusher, is registered at the property. This being the mill’s first industry.
By the 1850’s Henry Raines, of Russell Street, and his brother Robert Raines, of Prospect Street, had moved into the property and was using it as a tallow refinery.
The company expanded and remained at the property for some years, even when neighbouring properties were destroyed by enemy action in WWII. Deaths were recorded on the site, many of which were very tragic.
The area surrounding the mill is also of great interest. Just opposite the Mill stood the Sculcoates Police Station, where C Division was based for many years. Next door to them, however, was the most interesting of properties. This was known as Willows House, where Richard Stephenson Senior resided with his wife and family. Richard Stephenson Senior owned the mill next door, Union Mill, which has since been demolished. Two of his sons gained a reputation whilst in Hull and in the 1870’s left for London.
His eldest son, Richard Stephenson Senior, was a corrupt East Sculcoates Politician. He was involved in two scandals, one of which happened opposite the mill! The first scandal was the Saint Silas Church Scandal, in which he refused to leave the church on a Sunday. The story was covered up and only mention in passing in the press.
The second scandal was the Church Street Scandal, which was the original name of Wincolmlee. In this scandal he entered a house opposite the mill and kicked out the owner, removing windows, doors, roof tiles, and not allowing the owner back in. This incident made the press, and what followed was a rapid fall from grace. He became involved in corruption trials, found guilty, paid the costs, and left Hull forever.
The other brother is even more interesting, as he worked for the Hull Customs, got shot in the leg, wrote a Victorian ghost story about the nearby drain, and ended up marrying his brother’s servant. He also left Hull for London and got involved with people such as Aleister Crowley, Madame Blavatsky, Mabel Collins, and many other occult figures. In the autumn of 1888 he was in the London Hospital, Whitechapel, and would later be accused of being “Jack the Ripper.”
Back to the location and the area is also riddled with tragedy and death. During the Victorian period Cholera hit the area and wiped out a third of the population, after Cholera came the floods which spread more disease and misery. The area was heavily bombed during WWII, and both Wincolmlee and the River Hull are the scene of multiple deaths and tragedies.