Ten reasons to love Hull
PUBLISHED: 14:51 14 January 2013 | UPDATED: 23:03 28 April 2016
Heather Dixon rediscovers a city she has known nearly all her life.
Standing, as the poet Phillip Larkin observed, with ‘its back half turned towards Europe’, Kingston upon Hull, to give it its posh name, certainly embraces change with passion while steadfastly refusing to conform – even when the odds have been stacked against it.
This resilient city has survived the Blitz, the demise of its iconic fishing industry and crippling post industrial decline, each time purposefully reinventing itself as a city of multiple strengths and identities.
Visually, culturally and economically, Hull is a city of unique character and appeal, underpinned by an inherent sense of belonging and friendliness.
So where do visitors begin to appreciate the obvious – as well as the more subtle – attractions of this unsung city? Our 10-point guide is a starting point for those who want a flavour of everything this extraordinary city has to offer.
1. The Humber Bridge
Following 100 years of campaigning to improve trading links between the two banks of the Humber Estuary, approval was granted for the construction of a suspension bridge in 1959. Work finally began in 1973 and the bridge opened to the public eight years later in 1981. At 4,626ft, it is currently the fourth longest suspension bridge in the world.
2. The Deep
More than 3,500 fish – including seven species of sharks and rays – are housed in The Deep Millennium Project. It is described as ‘one of the most spectacular aquariums in the world’, jutting out over the water at the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber Estuary.
3. Wilberforce House
This is the birthplace of 18th-century MP, William Wilberforce, who played a key role in the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. The museum is one of four which make up the Museums Quarter. The Arctic Corsair is a deep-sea trawler which tells the story of Hull’s fishing industry; the Streetlife Museum covers 200 years of transport history and the Hull and East Riding Museum boasts some of the most spectacular natural history and archaeology displays in Britain.
4. Ferens Art Gallery
Thomas Ferens began contributing to the city’s fledgling art collection in 1905 and the art gallery was built in his name in 1926, on the site of a redundant church. The Grade II listed building was restored and extended in 1991 and houses extensive permanent and touring exhibitions as well as a thriving bistro café. Last year (2012 to January 2013) the Ferens was the only Yorkshire venue to host an exhibition of 10 drawings by Leonardo da Vinci.
5. The Avenues
An elegant throw-back from the Victorian era, these tree-lined Avenues are linked to Princes Avenue which, in recent years, has become a cosmopolitan area for trendy eateries and wine bars.
6. Hull Marina
Hull marina opened in 1983 as a 270-berth mooring for pleasure craft and private yachts. It is also the mooring for the Spurn Lightship, now a museum.
7. Holy Trinity Church
England’s largest parish church is not just an architectural gem – it’s something of a trail-blazer. Last year (2012) it hosted the Hull Real Ale and Cider Festival and a huge 8,500 Poppy Remembrance Day art installation, as well as having a solar photovoltaic system installed in its 700-year-old roof.
8. Hull Truck Theatre
A light-hearted advert requesting a partner to launch a ‘half-formed’ theatre company turned into a 40-year-old success story as one of the most innovative theatre companies in Britain. Playwrights Alan Plater and Anthony Minghella worked alongside artistic director Mike Bradwell through the first decade until John Godber made his indelible mark over the next 27 years. In 2009 it moved from Spring Street to its current location and has just finished celebrating its 40th birthday.
9. Historic Pubs
Hull’s Old Town is full of historic pubs, including Ye Olde Black Boy dating from 1337; the George Hotel in the quirkily named street The Land of Green Ginger which is home to the smallest window in England, and Ye Olde White Harte where the Civil War allegedly started in 1642.
10. KC Stadium
The first in the UK in a parkland setting, the stadium comprises a state-of-the-art, all-seater spectator arena with a capacity of 25,586. It is home to Hull City FC and Hull FC Rugby League Club, and also hosts major concerts and conferences.
Fast facts about Hull
It is the only city in the UK to have a municipally-owned telephone system since 1902, sporting cream, not red, telephone boxes.
Hull has 3,694 people per square kilometre - one of the highest population densities outside of London.
Hull is home to Healthcare giants Reckitt Benckiser, Smith & Nephew and Seven Seas as well as companies such as BP, Associated British Ports and BAE Systems.
Hull is Yorkshire’s only waterfront city
Famous sons and daughters include TV property presenter Sarah Beeny, actress Maureen Lipman, playwright John Godber, singer/musician Paul Heaton (The Beautiful South), musician Roland Gift (Fine Young Cannibals), guitarist Mick Ronson, DJ, musician and record producer Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim), former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and Amy Johnson, who became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.
First Hull Trains operates direct daily services between the city and London. For details, visit hulltrains.co.uk or nationalrail.co.uk. Humberside Airport (Humberside-airport.co.uk) is just 30 minutes from the city centre or access Hull by car along the Eastbound M62.
Where to park
Hull City Council operates 12 off-street car parks in and around the city centre, providing 2,500 parking spaces, including electric vehicle charging points at George Street multi-storey. Average daily parking fees are £6.60. There is also a park & ride service from Priory Park.
Additional photographs by Joan Russell