A Rich Maritime Heritage
Hull’s maritime history is the one thing everyone knows about. Not just fishing and whaling, but big shipping companies too, bringing prosperity to the city in the 18th century. The industry has largely declined now, leaving only the passenger ferries and a few container vessels. But many of the old warehouses and docks buildings have been renovated and converted into flats, bars and restaurants.
Today visitors can explore the Maritime Museum (housed in the ornate Victorian building that was once the headquarters of the Hull Dock Company) and follow the Fish Trail, a series of 41 pieces of pavement art that meander around the old town. And they can walk around the modern and bustling Marina, where the old Spurn Lightship has been turned into a museum.
Buildings Old and New
It is undoubtedly true that bomb damage during the war did Hull no favours, leading to a flurry of rebuilding in functional but unattractive 20th century styles. But there is still lots of interesting architecture to be seen. The Old Town has historic houses and passageways, pubs and churches. And there are grand civic buildings from the early 20th century, including the City Hall and the Ferens Art Gallery.
But there are also welcome glimpses of modern regeneration. The Prince’s Quay Shopping Centre, opened in 1991, was built to an unusual design, standing on stilts in the old Prince’s Dock. And the ultra-modern St Stephen’s Centre, built on a brownfield site in the city centre, incorporates shops and restaurants as well as the brand new Hull Truck Theatre.
Famous People of Hull
Museums, Theatre and Festivals
Hull is well provided with museums. Apart from the Maritime Museum, you can wander into the Hull and East Riding Museum, exlore the history of transport in the Street Life Museum and learn about slavery in Wilberforce House. The Ferens Art Gallery has a regular programme of exhibitions: a recent exhibition featuring David Hockney (himself from East Yorkshire) has led to a proposal for a new gallery devoted to Hockney’s works. And there is The Deep, a massive underwater aquarium (“the world’s only submarium”).
Apart from more conventional productions elswhere in the city, contemporary and experimental drama is on offer at the Hull Truck Theatre. And Hull has festivals too. Since 2007 the annual Freedom Festival has provided music, comedy and storytelling. Then there is the Jazz Festival and the Humber Mouth Literature Festival, and more planned for the future. All in all, Hull seems to well poised to take on the role of UK City of Culture.