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Yorkshire Kingston-upon-Hull

Kingston-upon-Hull (or Hull as it is more usually called) is tucked away in the bottom right hand corner of Yorkshire is well off the usual tourist itinerary. Since winning the coveted European City of Culture for 2017, it has made tremendous strides to rediscover itself and put its name very firmly on the map. The city has been detattified and there is a wide and varied programme of events 
throughout the year. This began with a massive firework display and you can’t ignore Hull now... 

Although the area has been inhabited since neolithic times, the settlement at the mouth of the River Hull, didn’t really develop until the C12th when the monks of nearby Meaux Abbey needed a port to export wool. They built a quay near the junction of the River Hull and the Humber. The port rapidly grew in size with large ships anchoring and transfering cargo to smaller vessels which could navigate rivers as far as Nottingham and York. 

At the end of the C13th, Edward I used the post as the supply base for his military campaigns in Scotland, hence to Kingston bit of the name. 

The port continued to grow and by the C14th was one of the major towns in the region and the second largest port on the east coast. It was part of the Hanseatic trading league. By the mid C18th it was a major whaling port.

Its maritime history is covered in the excellent Maritime Museum in the splendid Hull Dock Company building.



The first quays were along the tidal River Hull, which was known as the Haven. A modern tidal surge barrier can be lowered when there are very high tides forecast.

These were rapidly replaced by more docks to the west of the River Hull. Princes Dock, Railway Dock and Humber Dock are still there. Queen’s Dock has been filled in and is now gardens. The large modern docks are downstream from the city.

The old town of Hull grew up on the patch of land between the River Hull and the town docks. It had been a walled town surrounded by a ditch, bank and walls with four gates. Extra defences were built in 1642 as Hull was held by the Parliamentarians against the crown. The walls and gates were demolished in the C18th as they were hindering the growth of the town and a nuisance to traffic.

In the C19th, Hull was still a major port and there were many splendid buildings in the city centre. You only have to look above the modern shop fronts on Paragon Street to see the splendid C19th frontages. The City Hall and the Guildhall 
rank equal with buildings in other major cities.

Hull can also boast the largest parish church in England with splendid Minster (Holy Trinity Church) which has recently undergone a massive £4.5 million plan to revitalise the church and make it the focal point of the community and a venue of concerts, exhibitions and banquets.



Just a short distance from it on Lowgate is the smaller but still impressive St Mary’s Church.


The Old Town is a rabbit warren of narrow streets still paved with granite setts with narrow alleys, staithes leading down to private wharf along the river. High Street with its large brick houses, eg Maister House belonging to wealthy merchants was the heart of the City. Wilberforce House

 dating from 1600 is one of the oldest houses in Hull.


Birthplace of William Wilberforce, it is now a museum covering the history of slavery and its abolition. There is no evidence that Hull was involved in the slave trade or that slave ships visited but it did grow rich on the products of slavery.

The workmen lived in the crowded courtyards behind High Street. As the city grew away from the docks, this is now by-passed by the traffic. The maritime heritage can be seen in the name of the Sailmaker’s Arms and Ye Olde Black Boy pub. Men drinking in the pubs were vulnerable to local press gangs.

Princes Dock is still there with its lock gates but is no longer used and is ‘landscaped’ with two fountains. Beyond is Humber Dock which is now a marina full of pleasure craft. The iron rings used to tie up the cargo ships can still be seen along the side of the quay. The mouth of the dock is still ‘guarded’ by a cannon and gun. The Spurn Lightship is anchored here.

Victoria Pier is between Humber Dock and the River Hull. This used to be the pier for the Humber Ferry to South Holland across the river before the Humber Bridge was opened. Opposite are the once splendid tiled toilets, kept spotlessly clean and with hot water.

Hull is remembered as being the birthplace of the English Civil War. The excavated remains of the Beverley Gate can be seen at the junction of Whitefriar Gate and Victoria Square.

Sir John Hotham had been appointed by Parliament to control Hull and had over 1000 troops at his command. The town had a stockpile of guns and ammunition and was a key port for receiving aid from abroad and was an important target for the King to control.

Sir John had been given instructions from Parliament not to deliver up the town. When the King arrived at Hull, Hotham refused him entry, the first act of open defiance of the King. The king promptly declared Hotham guilty of high Treason. A couple of months later, civil war broke out in earnest. Hull suffered heavy bombardment from the Royalist guns but never surrendered.

The Museum quarter in the Old Town houses the Hull and East Yorkshire Museum is the archaeology museum from the Stone Age to the Normans.



Next door is the Streetlife Museum of Transport with its old shops and the transport exhibits.



The Hands on History Museum
 in the Old Grammar School has some C19/20th social history, including a Victorian school room.

For culture there is the Ferens Art Gallery
 which is regarded as one of the better provincial art galleries has reopened after a £5million refurbishment.

For those wanting live entertainment, there is Hull New Theatre as well as the Hull Truck Theatre which is a popular touring company. Hull City Hall hosts a variety of comedians and concerts from pop to local choirs.

The Museum of Club Culture is described on its website as "spearheading the establishment of a creative and cultural quarter in Hull’s idiosyncratic and historic Fruitmarket." This isn’t for me, and I’ll leave others to review it.

There is plenty for the sports fans. The iconic KCom stadium is a multi purpose venue and home of Hull City Football Club as well the rugby club, Hull FC. It is also used for large open air concerts. Hull also boasts another first class rugby team, Hull Kingston Rovers, based at Craven Park. Hull Arena has an olympic size skating rink, ice hockey games as well as rock and pop concerts.

KC stadium is named after its sponsors Kingston Communications, the only private telephone provider in the country who provides a very cheap the telephone service for Hull and surrounding areas with its distinctive cream coloured telephone boxes.

There is also The Deep, described as one of the most spectacular aquariums in the world with an under water viewing tunnel. Scale Lane Bridge, a new swing footbridge links Hull Old Town with the east bank of the River Hull and The Deep. It is unique in the UK as pedestrians can stay on the bridge while it swings open to allow river traffic through.

For visitors to Hull, Tourist Information Centre on Carr Lane is the first port of call. They have maps and information about Hull and the surrounding area. They also have information about different walking trails around the city. These include a fish trail, an ale trail and a blitz trail.

Hull is a major shopping centre for the area, although you have to know where you want to be as the shopping streets cover a large area. There are three shopping centres – Princes Quay, St Stephen’s Centre and the Prospect Centre. Some of the old Victorian arcades still survive like the Paragon Arcade between Paragon Street and Carr Lane with its cast iron and glass ceiling and small boutique shops. Trinity Market is receiving a £1.6 million makover and retains thriving greengrocers, fish shop as well as butchers.

Hull declined from the 1960s with the decline of the fishing fleet. It had very much an end of the line feel to it. Attaining City of Culture status has made locals evaluate and appreciate just what Hull has to offer. It is a surprising amount. Where else will you find a street called Land of Green Ginger? Hull, again is a city that is proud of its heritage and is ready to make its mark again. It is definitely worth a visit.
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