Three Ships Mural


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Three Ships Mural attached to 32-38 Jameson Street, Hull


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Three Ships Mural attached to 32-38 Jameson Street, Hull
City of Kingston upon Hull (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Three Ships mosaic mural by Alan Boyson, fixed to, and including, a curved concrete screen on which it sits.

Reasons for Designation

The Three Ships mosaic mural, attached to 32-38 Jameson Street, Hull is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * as an unusual surviving example of a bespoke 1960s glass mosaic mural, produced by a renowned and successful artist; * as a well thought-out and well executed mural in an unusual medium for its size and location.

Historic interest:

* as a symbol of Hull’s nationally important fishing and maritime industries and illustrative of the types of ships engaged in fishing from Hull; * as an example of the integration between art and architecture to enhance the public realm in post-war Britain.


In 1961 Alan Boyson (1930-2018) was commissioned to design the exterior ships mural, and also an interior fish mural, to adorn the new co-operative store in the fishing town of Hull. The project architect was Philip Andrews, a friend of Boyson. Boyson’s father, a co-op manager, had assisted Andrews’ career by recommending him for interview to the CWS architects’ department.

Alan Boyson trained as a ceramicist, first at the Manchester Regional School of Art from 1950-1954 under the ceramicist Lester Campion, and at the Royal College of Art, London under the tutorage of Robert Baker, Professor of Ceramics. He then lectured in the Ceramics Department at Wolverhampton School of Art from about 1959-1961 and established his own studio. While many of his earlier commissions were ceramics, other and later commissions meant he also diversified into using other materials. His external, ceramic mosaic Tree of Knowledge mural at the former Cromwell Secondary School for Girls, Salford (1962) was listed at Grade II in 2009. He also designed mosaic and other pieces in several listed buildings including the ceramic holy water stoops and stations of the cross in the Roman Catholic Church of St Raphael the Archangel, Stalybridge, and an abstract Art Deco-style window in St Ann’s Church, Manchester.


The mural was designed for the principal entrance at the corner of Jameson Street and Waltham Street, and overlooking a wide junction with King Edward Street, now a largely pedestrianised area in the centre of Hull. When it was installed it was believed to be the biggest mural in Britain; it rises above the ground-floor entrance through three storeys to roof level and is 66ft high by 64ft wide (20m x 19.5m). The size of the mural made it too big for the ceramic work which was Boyson’s more usual choice for his mural designs. Instead, Boyson’s design was executed as a glass tile mosaic by Richards Tiles Ltd, Stoke, which was fixed to a curved concrete screen. The mural comprises 4,224ft sq (0.3m sq) slabs, each made up of 225 glass cubes or tesserae imported from Italy; altogether there are 1,061,775 tesserae. The mosaic slabs were affixed to the screen by A Andrews and Sons (Marble and Tiles) Ltd of Leeds.

The ‘Three Ships’ mosaic mural is a stylised, modern design intended to symbolise the city’s fishing industry. It shows the silhouettes of three sailing boats reflected in the water below. Beneath the boats is a Latin motto - RES PER INDUSTRIAM PROSPERAE (roughly, 'Things by Industry Prosper'). It uses a limited palette of pale greens, blues and browns, the muted colours of the design having been requested by Hull’s town planners. A number of the individual tesserae have dropped off and there are a number of small holes with broken tesserae, which are understood to have been caused by scaffolding poles.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Enhancement on 28/11/2019


Books and journals
Christopher R Marsden, , 'Anything with Anything: An introduction to the art and craft of Alan Boyson' in Journal of the Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society, , Vol. 16, (2010), 31-44


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building but not coloured blue on the map, are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine.

End of official listing

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