Historic Hessle has the best of both worlds in East Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 20:47 14 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:45 20 February 2013
Tony Greenway discovers the best of both worlds in an historic East Yorkshire town PHOTOGRAPHS BY NEIL HOLMES
It might look like a small East Yorkshire market town, but Hessle, situated in the shadow of the Humber Bridge, has been buzzing just recently.
Two new entertainment venues in the centre of the town - The Weir Bar and Kiki 'n' Bouba - have seen to that. 'Hessle is a lively place all right,' says Henry Beercock, of estate agents Beercock,Wiles and Wick on Northgate. 'The Weir Bar, which features live entertainment and nightlife, has brought a lot of people into the town. It used to be a pub but it's now very contemporary inside.'
Kiki 'n' Bouba is a year old this month (happy birthday, by the way) and takes its name from - get this - a psychological experiment conducted by Wolfgang Kohler involving curvy and jagged shapes. Well, you did ask.
Hessle made the national news headlines in 2007 when tragedy struck the town. Local man Michael Barnett became the first fatality of the summer floods when his foot caught in a storm drain. His death from hypothermia was a terrible moment in Hessle's history and underlined the devastation that the floods wreaked on East Yorkshire.
Since the credit crunch, the property market in Hessle has slowed (show us a place where it hasn't), but, Henry's colleague Jessica Dunhill says that the town remains a desirable place for young families: 'People with children come to Hessle from Hull because it's quieter and the house prices are more reasonable, especially if you're starting out on the property ladder.'
But it's not that quiet. 'It's still a place with a lot of facilities and a lot of life,' said Jessica. 'And there's an increasing number of boutiques and shops in the town.'
This isn't just estate agent talk. There's a mix of pubs, shops, restaurants and cafes here. In fact, Artisan Restaurant, based in a grade II listed Georgian town house, was recently named Yorkshire Life's Restaurant of the Year and as one of the best eateries in the entire country by The Restaurant Magazine, with an independent panel of judges ranking it in 51st place. Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner rates it too, writing: 'If Britain really is to boast about its growing restaurant reputation, it doesn't need more outposts of the Ramsay empire. It doesn't need more gastro palaces and designer food temples. It needs more places like this.'
As you leave Hessle and head towards nearby Anlaby, bigger houses have been built for various big-name Hull City players. This is also where Nigerian-born mid-fielder Jay-Jay Okocha set up home when he played for the club.
Jessica Dunhill grew up in Hessle then moved to Hull and is about to move back again shortly. 'I'm looking forward to it,' she says. 'It's very friendly around here, and when you've grown up in a place like this you know everybody. It's like a big village.'
There is, if you seek it out, a quietly beautiful corner of Hessle: the cemetery outside the town centre. It isn't depressing to wander around here, just peaceful and pretty. There are some ornate headstones but the mausoleum in the north east corner of the cemetery has to be the biggest and most impressive one of all. This piece of architecture turns out to have been created by JP Pease in 1866 in memory of his father, Joseph Robinson Pease, the man who built Hesslewood House, and it's striking and unexpected. A bit like Hessle itself.
Hessle Town Council: www.hessletowncouncil.gov.uk
Hull City Council: www.hullcc.gov.uk
Hessle Theatre: www.hessletheatre.co.uk
Humber Bridge: www.humberbridge.co.uk