Hull - East Yorkshire's sleeping giant

PUBLISHED: 15:15 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:07 20 February 2013

The Deep, Hull seen bathed in sunshine

The Deep, Hull seen bathed in sunshine

Chris Titley is impressed by a city which is beginning to emerge as a world class destination

In its role as an international port, Hull has welcomed international visitors for hundreds of years. But it's struggled to attract tourists.

When Colin Brown was put in charge of tourism at the council the largest number of day trippers arrived as part of a mystery tour. 'People didn't really know where they were going,' he said. 'But when they got here, they liked it, even coming back for a weekend.'

That sums up Hull. Those that know the city love it. Those that don't tend to assume the city lives down to a rather drab and outdated reputation.

Hull is a place with a glorious past and a very exciting future. A long royal history accounts for its Sunday name, Kingston upon Hull: that was thanks to Edward I who decreed the thriving port to be the King's Town. The city was to turn its back on a later king, Charles I, which effectively kicked off the Civil War.

Yet a city so often found atop the crest of a wave slumped into the doldrums in the last century. It is on the up again thanks to a revival synonymous with the coming of a new age.

The Deep is one of the few millennium projects which can be declared an unqualified success. In fact it is perhaps the most successful, being more profitable than another millennium marvel, the Eden Project in Cornwall.

Dreamed up by Colin Brown, now its chief executive, and Councillor David Gemmell, chairman of its board, The Deep has brought 3.75 million people to Hull since 2001, keen to see for themselves this globally-acclaimed natural history museum of the sea. It cost 50 million, which they recouped in a year.

But the gains are more than monetary: the real triumph of the 'world's only submarium' - a title cleverly coined to distinguish it from lesser aquaria - was to restore Hull's self-confidence. Not only did the city have a genuinely world-class attraction, it was housed in a stunning modern building, inspired by another waterfront museum, the Guggenheim in Bilbao.

'There was a feeling that Hull lacked a single iconic building,' Colin said. That feeling disappeared the moment the submarium's jutting glass prow was unveiled to the world.

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