Sometimes, I find myself in conversation with people who ask where I live. I inevitably reveal that I live in Hull, and whilst some don’t know where that is, other’s scoff as if I am in some ghetto neighbourhood that they’d never dream of driving through. But what Hull lacks in economic wealth, it can make up for it in cultural value.
Yes, we may have had a ridiculously overwhelming Leave vote in June (but not my vote), and that may somewhat juxtapose a post about how culturally significant we are, but the proof is in the city. What you have to understand though, is that Hull has been slow to bloom again once it was blackened, bruised and bombed in World War II, which saw significant parts of the city turn to burning piles of rubble, and the evidence can still be seen even today!
Once a rich fishing port, we celebrate the trade in statues, tributes and the Fish Trail that takes you around the city on a two mile course. Many of the places now built in place of the dead trade still pay tribute, when we have a shopping centre called Princes Quay and another retail park with a similar name (St Andrew’s Quay). We celebrate being the birthplace of great people, like William Wilberforce and Amy Johnson, as well as being the city the poet Philip Larkin lived in, and drew inspiration from.
Our Marina and the nearby pier, host Maritime festivals and gatherings, as well now many players of Pokémon Go, as it is rich in Pokestops. The nearby Fruit Market is going through a regeneration, and business is slowly crawling back to the riverside with the new C4DI building opposite the world’s only submarium, The Deep.
But our diversity doesn’t end there. On the Fish Trail, if you don’t just look down at the fish etched in paving stones, you’ll see the varying architecture we enjoy due to the phased rebuilding of the city. From drab 1960s buildings, to those influenced by our links to Amsterdam, there is something for everyone including the modern architecture fans (one of our footbridges over the River Hull was recently awarded and Architecture Award).
There is definitely no denying that we have been low on the economic scale for a long time, but you can see, as the years pass, the fortunes build, and more effort is put into creating a vibrant and diverse city once more. But like many northern cities, we still have closed down shops and boarded up buildings. It hasn’t stopped us creating something new though, and quite rightly so as we approach a big year for us.
Next year, 2017, we are the UK City of Culture, which I think is what many people are currently baffled by. But fear not, this is why I’m talking about what makes Hull never dull. We have poured ourselves into creating a new legacy that will lift us out of the darkness of a poor economy, and being the city the Government always forgets. We are an artery, to mainland Europe that everyone seems to forget.
Growth comes down our roads daily, with containers from Europe, filled with business waiting to happen, but no one ever thinks where these lorries come from. Where they first touched down in this country. We are at the end of the M62 and yet we’re forgotten in any plans to regenerate the road system, or even the rail system. We may have Siemens coming into the city, but it’s going to be a sure struggle when business starts to boom.
Do we get big names acts knocking down our doors? Sometimes, but not always. We relish in local talent throughout the year at Assemble Fest down the Avenues, Humber Street Sesh down by the Marina, and Freedom Festival in Queens Gardens. We sample local food at Yum Food Fest in the city centre, we have fun fairs and shows in our local parks, and there is always something to do and see. Our galleries and museums are free to enter, and when Ferens Art Gallery is open, you can witness the original artwork for Beautiful South’s album Quench, whose founding members comes from the Housemartins, a band founded in this very city!
Hull is looked down upon because television shows like Jeremy Kyle purports the poor socioeconomic backgrounds of people who do live here, but we’re not all the same. I’ll never forgive Phil and Kirstie of Location fame either, claiming Hull to be one of the worst places to live in the country because it did absolutely nothing for our growth and added to the scoffing. Not only that, but at one point we were the fattest city in the country too. We do get a bad rep up here.
But thankfully, not all people think the same. Friends of my father’s who came up from London were taken aback when they found out just how friend we can be up North. You see, there is the world’s smallest window in this city, and for tourists to find it, you’re best off asking a local because it really is small. Tucked between two oversized bricks, and down the street named “Land of Green Ginger” you will find the smallest window, but only if you’re looking in the right place.
Exploring the historical milestones of this city will reveal just why we are a city of culture, history and growth, and it really is not something to be scoffed at. We have accomplished a great deal, even when faced with complete destruction. So next time you hear of Hull, just think a little about that chuckle that builds in your tummy, and instead of going by what you read or hear, come here, see it for yourself. Just make sure it’s after all the barriers are gone because it’s not fun whilst all this improvement work is going on.