I am in Hull this weekend on a work trip. It’s my first time here.
I arrived in the dark, very tired, with an unshakeable feeling of loneliness.
Outside my hotel, a little bit shell shocked after a hard week at work I also felt a tiny bit displaced, as though my train had followed an unexpected route and I’d arrived here by mistake.
Hull in the daylight is entirely different. It’s intriguing. Bits of it are buzzing, other bits lie dormant waiting for attention to be lavished on them again. Some buildings are boarded or bricked up, dusty, dirty and forgotten about. Others defiantly cling on to the collective optimism which brought them to life in the first place. The older buildings whisper about the city’s prosperous past. Wander around aimlessly and you’ll see an architectural timeline documenting the city’s history, it’s economic roots and its subsequent sporadic periods of investment.
Hull doesn’t feel like its given up on itself. Its roots are strong. You see that clearly if you walk from the train station, the town hall and on to the harbour: two grand, defiant structures which demonstrated the city’s prowess and the economic strength its port brought the city and its inhabitants. Queen Victoria stayed in the hotel I’m staying in in the 1850s (although it wasn’t part of the Mercure chain then, I’m sure).
There is a pride in the city which is difficult to overlook. It just needs a sustained commitment to a bit of buffing and shining. It needs is for people outside of Hull to look more kindly on it, to recognise its history, it’s achievements and the first steps it’s taking towards renewal.
Oh, and the view of the Humber from The Deep on Hull’s harbour wall (above) was breathtaking today.
Hull was announced as the 2017 City of Culture on 20 November 2013. Earlier this week, new branding was unveiled for the year-long cultural programme. This post by local journalism student Liam Sutherland who writes for hyperlocal news site HyperFruit spoke to local cultural and business figures about the poll. Worth a read.