The tidal Humber Estuary is formed by the confluence of two great rivers, the Ouse which flows south from Yorkshire and the Trent which flows north from the East Midlands. The estuary is just over 38 miles in length and is spanned by the Humber Bridge, which, when built in 1981 was the largest single span suspension bridge in the world. In 2015 over 16,000,000 vehicles crossed over the bridge.
The main ports and towns on the estuary are Goole, the City of Hull, Immingham, Grimsby and Cleethorpes.
During the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) the king became embroiled in a number of military conflicts against both the Welsh and the Scots and used the port at Wyke, close to the mouth of the River Hull, from which to send supplies north to his armies fighting in Scotland. Some six years after purchasing the port of Wyke from an order of monks, Edward renamed Wyke and a neighbouring settlement by Royal Charter calling the town Kingston upon Hull (Kings Town upon Hull).
Kingston upon Hull flourished as a major port exporting wool to the continent and importing timber. Throughout the Middle Ages Hull continued to be an important east coast port and diversified in both its exports and imports. As the port increased in trade and size and local merchants prospered, the population increased as did trades associated with the port and its imports. The introduction of whaling increased the prominence of Hull which, at one stage, was home to 40% of the British whaling fleet. Hull formally became a city in 1897.
The whaling encouraged other fishing ventures to the port and by the time whaling had all but stopped due to over fishing, the fishing industry based around the North Sea had taken a foothold in the area and was to flourish until a decline between the war years, finishing completely in the 1970’s.
After the First World War Hull’s industry started to decline and it wasn’t until the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Docks in the late 1960’s that the area really prospered again becoming an important container port. During the Second World War Hull suffered more bombing from the Luftwaffe than any City in the Country outside of London. At the end of the 1990’s and early 21st century investment in building and renovating large areas of the City which included housing, commercial, retail and public service property took place which greatly improved the area. The four Associated British Ports within the Humber estuary contribute over £2 billion to the UK economy annually.
In 2008, following Liverpool’s success as the European Capital of Culture the British Government decided to establish a prize for the UK City of Culture which would be given every four years. Londonderry was the first winner in 2013. There were fifteen applications for the award for 2017 which was shortlisted down to four. The remaining four were named as Dundee, Swansea Bay, Hull and Leicester. On 20th November 2013 following a unanimous decision by the judging panel it was announced that Hull had won the accolade. The Chairman of the City of Culture Judging Panel stated that Kingston upon Hull had put forward, “the most compelling case based on its theme as ‘… a city coming out of the shadows’ “.
Photograph courtesy of Hull 2017
Following this decision Hull City Council set up the independent company and charitable trust, Hull UK City of Culture 2017, to organise the events which will run from January 1st until December 31st across numerous venues and streets throughout the city. The CEO of the new company, Martin Green, was a major player behind the London 2012 Olympic ceremonies and he is assisted by Chairwoman Rosie Millard, an acclaimed journalist and former BBC arts correspondent who studied art at Hull University.
On the 22nd September this year a schedule of events was announced which promises to feature attractions catering for all tastes, albeit with an obvious arts and cultural bias.
The festivities will open at 20.17 hours (8.17pm) on Sunday 1st January 2017 with a massive firework display set to rival London’s New Year’s Eve celebrations. It is the intention of Hull City of Culture 2017 that every child of school age from the City will have a chance to participate in many of its activities.
The twelve month event has been split into four seasons with a different theme for each season. In this initial blog we will only deal with the first season of 2017 which will run from January 1st to the 31st March with the theme, ‘Made in Hull’. The idea of this introductory season is to educate people as to what Hull is really like and what Hull has done not only for the United Kingdom but also for the world! Aspects covered will include, but not be limited to, innovative ideas and designs including wind turbines and caravans to great artists, poets and musicians.
Bafta-nominated documentary film-maker and native of Hull, Sean McAllister is staging the first major work of 2017 with a celebration of the last 70 years of Hull’s life using amazing large scale projected images onto buildings with illuminated skylines and soundscapes which will run from 4.00pm to 9.00pm daily, Sunday 1st January to Sunday 7th January inclusive beginning in Queen Victoria Square then via Whitefriargate into the Old Town. Along the route shop windows and live performances will add to the story. Billed as, “… a spectacular trail where the streets speak and buildings tell stories,” both young and old will be enthralled.
Photograph courtesy of Nik Pate
At the Humber Street Gallery, between the 3rd February and March 22nd there will be an exhibition of materials and personal archives from members of COUM Transmissions which was a controversial and sometimes notorious music and art collective that was founded in Hull in 1969. The group later moved to London and disbanded in 1975 with some of its members forming a new band with a less artistic bias but who still courted controversy. Music, talks and discussions, some of which will feature original COUM members, will take place daily between 10.00am and 8.00pm.
Starting on the 15th February for 4 nights, the University of Hull is host to a theatre production entitled Weathered Estates performed by the Hull based company, The Roaring Girls. Based upon a modern version of Euripides’ Women of Troy the group use music, puppetry and what is described as ‘playful scenery’ to tell the story of four displaced women fleeing their homes in search of safety. Performances commence at 7.30pm each evening with tickets costing £3-£5.
Photograph courtesy of Nik Pate
At the Truck Theatre, Ferensway between February 25th and March 18th there are a number of evening performances (and five matinees) of Hull born playwright Richard Bean’s comedy entitled The Hypocrite. Evening performances start at 7.30pm and matiness at 2.00pm. Tickets £12 – £20.
At a cost of £4.5 million Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery has been refurbished and will host a number of events over the year including the prestigious Turner Prize. The gallery will also show Pietro Lorenzetti’s 14th century masterpiece, ‘Christ between Saints Paul and Peter’, an important work just having undergone four years of conservation by the National Gallery. The well-publicised naked crowd photographs of US photographer Spencer Tunick in which 3,200 people took part in the centre of Hull will also be on display at the gallery as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017.
Photograph courtesy of Perrie Curties
The above is just a fraction of some of the events scheduled to take place during the first three months of the year. Throughout 2017 numerous musical, theatrical, film, art exhibitions and other cultural events are due to take place, full details of which can be obtained from www.hull2017.co.uk.