Wednesday 2 August 2017

Kingston-upon-Hull, City of Culture

Liverpool was the European City of Culture in 2008 and, following the significant social and economic benefits for the area, the Government decided to institute a UK City of Culture Programme. (Just as well as we seem to be destined to depart the European Union so this is our only shot.)

The choice of Hull for 2017 was unanimous because it apparently put forward "the most compelling case based on its theme as 'a city coming out of the shadows'".

We spent a couple of days there with friends and I can recommend it.  We had a great time but having never been to Hull before I can’t comment on the changes, which apparently are significant. Very importantly it is mostly walkable but if you don’t feel like walking between attractions you can take the Hull Land Train. For £2.50 it will take you between attractions, you can get off and on again with cheesy music and hilarious patter. I am not sure how understandable it is if English isn’t your first language but the Japanese students seemed to be having a whale of a time.  Not sure they were as pleased with our sing-a-long though. 

We loved the exhibitions at the Ferens Gallery including the blue nudes by Spencer Tunick – “Sea of Hull”, where he photographed over 3,000 naked people painted blue in various places in Hull – you can visit the settings for the photographs (minus the nudes). The Turner Prize will be held there this year.

The Maritime Museum was fascinating as was the Streetlife Museum of transport and we spent some time in the house of William Wilberforce with an exhibition about the slave trade and his part in its abolition.  Much to my surprise I also loved the aquarium The Deep.

Here are some random things that I didn’t know

Hull was the most bombed city after London during WW2 – the bombers dropped any excess bombs they had on the way home to lighten the load.  Over 90% of homes were affected 

Amy Johnson the famous aviator came from Hull

Over 2.2 million emigrants from Northern Europe passed through Hull from the middle of the 18th century to about 1914, en route to the USA, Canada and South Africa.

It built all its wealth on whaling, then fishing (with a dreadful human toll – it was very dangerous). Now it has modernised and is the UK's first fully-enclosed cargo-handling facility providing all-weather working for various types of weather-sensitive cargoes including steel and bagged products. It handles 10 million tonnes a year.

Go by rail, in London from Kings Cross, and you have to travel on Hull Trains.  It was voted Rail Operator of the Year for good reason – clean, comfortable, the best loo's ever seen on a train and brilliant staff and unlike the rest of the industry they have 50:50 gender parity.  Read Hull Trains flying the flag for females!  Our crew were efficient (female) and hilarious.  The train was delayed for a few minutes at Doncaster and they apologised for the delay as an unruly passenger had to be removed. We saw him speaking to a policeman. I commented to the crew member that they didn’t seem to have any trouble with him – she said “I’ve got a five year old – it was a piece of cake!”