Howdendyke takes its name from the ditch that runs from the river to Howden. Its prosperity was originally based around agriculture with the harvest been taken to markets by way of an old oar-propelled ferry. The ferry crossing became more dangerous when it was heavily loaded and with the ships which were later coming to the newly developing industrial port.
A fertilizer factory was founded in the early-1850s and ships such as Sulpho, Nitro and Phospho were used to transport the fertilizers to landing stages further along the Ouse where it could be used in the fields. The original industrial process used mummified cats, but more sensible practices are followed today. The wharf now has large docking berths and storage units, but its traffic is hindered due to its location on a bend in the river. The created two river channels and it can be hard for ships to navigate along the fast flowing tides.