While taking to a friend of mine in the early part of this year, he suggested a visit to Hull. He told me that “it is never dull in Hull” so after a minute on my phone booking train tickets, it was on.
New to me
To be totally honest, I knew very little about Hull. I have some friend who have lived in or around there who have called it a very dull place to live. But my friend Tony recommending it with such a cheery slogan, I had to see for myself. And I was soon to realise that not only was the slogan true, but it was actually the slogan of the town!
The train ride took around two hours from Manchester Piccadilly station and dropped us centrally in the town. I loved the flags that adorned the ceiling of the station when we were heading for the exit. Flags that informed me of the Capital of Culture status that Hull has for the year. There is something else I didn’t know about Hull.
One of the things that Tony said I should look out for was the wind turbine sail placed in the centre of the town. Bizarre as it sounded, he promised me that it was true. So of course, I had to go and find it. Heading out of the station we went in search of the Tourist Information office in true visitor style.
There in the distance in front of us looked something ominously like a large wing. It couldn’t be? Yes, it was. It was the wing of the wind turbine that Tony had told me about. Right there, slap bang, in the middle of the town centre. Bizarre and intriguing all the same, so we hot footed right over to take a closer look.
Bigger and longer
When I was on my photography holiday in Portugal in 2010 I saw the paths that had been built for transporting wind turbine parts up and down the hills. Although they looked big, I just really couldn’t quite get my head around the scale of them. Usually seeing them in the distance up in the hills or out into sea, they are just an image of that they really are. Being able to get up close to even just the sail makes you feel really small. I now have an added respect for both the designers and the builders of them.
After walling through, round and about the sail, we set off on our journey once more. A short wander in the wrong direction delivered us to an absolutely gorgeous park. Planted with bright flowers blooming in the midst of the many cars circling it. We took a moment to enjoy it before setting off again, aware that we were only visiting for a day, not the whole weekend! I think you’ll agree that it was worth getting a bit lost and taking an interlude for.
Red Bricks and Mills Ahoy-hoy
One of the things that I noticed quite early on in our visit was the number of gorgeous red brick mills and buildings there were in the city. Yes, there were plenty of new and modern ones dotted throughout, but there was always something with the deep pre-war bricks in the scene somewhere. Living in Manchester, I have a strong love of the pre-war bricks (we even sourced some for our vestibule build to match our 1930’s house. You could say that it is something of a red brick love affair.
For the alleyway lovers too, you might have noticed someone taking a photo in my picture above. Not one to steal other people’s “creative eye”, I just had to pop over to take a closer look at whatever it was that had caught his attention. And I am pleased that I did too. Oh and it happened to be on our walking route too, which was a bonus. Just look at this street!
It is residential too and there is a sign to remind you to be quiet. Even in a rather quiet part of town, as soon as you step beneath the archway it becomes even more serene. I don’t know how they have done, it, but it is absolutely amazing!
And on a mini segway, let me take you from totally pleasing to something that made me giggle… I’ll just leave this here for you to enjoy (or despair over!)
To the docks
Although I am aware that Hull is a dock city, it never really occurred to me how large an import are it had been in the past. As we came towards the docks, it was evident that it had been a big player in previous years by the size of the marina.
The first thing I came across was the Spurn Ship. I can honestly say that I have never seen a boat like it and was pleased to see an information sign to enlighten me.
The Spurn Ship
OK, so I think this warrants a bit more information. Especially as it is not something you come into contact with regularly. So, the Spurn Lightship was part of a network of navigation light along the notorious River Humber. The reason it was notorious was because it was so difficult to navigate. This meant that lighthouses and the Spurn Lightship were placed to help direct the boats with a safe route to port. The only complication with the lightship was that it was manned, but didn’t have an engine, making it a dangerous place to be. Not only could they not move out of danger, but they would spend one month at a time on board. Crazy, isn’t it?
The crew was there to man the lightship as well as record the weather conditions, names of the ships coming in and making repairs to the lightship. In down time they would play cards, read, make model ships and of course fish.
Incredibly the boat was built in 1927 and still survives. It looks in great nick to me, but I am far from a boat expert!
Following my fact-finding mission on the Spurn Ship, we started to walk along cobbled streets bordering the water. The buildings were older than before and coated in beautiful gloss tiles (or perhaps ceramic glazed bricks)
It felt a bit like walking back in time. Well, kind of. As we turned into the main street it was clear that we were in the trendy or up-coming area. The cafes and bars were more hipster than we expected. I love seeing areas being revived with new businesses and usually independent traders. Not really the kind of place that I would particularly hang out though, but I do enjoy seeing how things change.
A day is far too short a time to be able to see all of Hull. Not that we had expected to, but with our brief detours here and there we did end up wandering more than we had anticipated. After collecting a few places to stop by on our next visit and a late break for lunch, it was time for the museum. A good opportunity to slow us down little and to give us some background to the area.
We visited a few museums and for the life of me, writing this so later after the fact, can I remember the names? I’ll use that as an excuse to plan another trip up there, I think. There as a lot of information to take in and a good variety of things to discover about the area. I do find that when I am in a new or different city, it is useful to visit their local history museums as you learn so much about the past. Which generally helps you to understand the present version even better. In the Hull museums, I even say my first Narwhal horn! I didn’t realise just how long they were.
And with one last wander around the turbine sail, it was time to bid farewell to Hull. I certainly have to agree that it is never dull in Hull from my visit and I look forward to learning more on my next trip too.
Have you been to Hull? Do you agree that it is never dull in Hull too?
Can you recommend any walks that I should take, places to visit or curiosities that I need to discover?
Please let me know in the comments below.