Residents and staff at the House thoroughly enjoyed a special day celebrating benefactor Thomas Feren’s birthday on May 4th. The ladies celebrated with a live singer who sang uplifting songs from past generations. They also celebrated with a special buffet and cake to mark the birthday of the original owner of the Home they now live in.
Thomas Ferens was a British politician, a philanthropist, and an industrialist. He was the Member of Parliament for Hull East for 13 years, and served the city as a Justice of the Peace and as High Steward. He helped establish Reckitt and Sons, a manufacturer of household goods, as one of Kingston upon Hull’s foremost businesses. His career with the company spanned 61 years—from his initial employment as a confidential and shorthand clerk until his death, as chairman, in 1930.
In the House of Commons, Ferens spoke to further the cause of Women’s Rights. He supported women’s suffrage at home, and repeatedly drew attention to the trafficking of women and girls in the colonies. But never a great orator, and by nature a retiring man, much of his work at Westminster was completed in the committee rooms, away from the limelight. He did not seek re-election after being unseated in an acrimonious campaign in 1918.
A devout Wesleyan Methodist, Ferens made numerous charitable donations throughout his life. His gifts to Hull include the Ferens Art Gallery and a donation of £250,000 for the establishment of University College (now the University of Hull).
Thomas Ferens died in his home, Holderness House, in East Hull on 9 May 1930. In his will he bequeathed the house and its grounds, together with an endowment of £50,000, to be used as a rest home for poor gentlewomen. Today this House continues to run as a residential home for ladies.