Museums of Hull

After a second night demolishing the Premier Inn in Beverley and the children had caught up on their e-mails we had to clear out and make plans for going back home to Grimsby.

Fearing for the house and not wanting to get back too soon I thought that we might take a detour through UK Capital of Culture – The City of Hull and specifically an area of the city that has been reinvented for the occasion as the Old Town and more specifically, the Museum Quarter.

Odd, isn’t it?  I have no trouble with Madrid or Prague, Rome or Lisbon having an Old Town or Museum quarter but I find it difficult to get my head around this in nearby Hull.

Hull Museum Cat People

It was rather a surprise to most people when Hull became UK Capital of Culture because it has to be said that it great swathes of it are a bit of a dump and the journey in along the A1079, the Beverley Road, did nothing to alter this opinion, it is a dreadful approach to the city,  through run down streets of decrepit shop, chipboard and steel shutters, cheap mini-markets, tattoo parlours, dodgy finance places and betting shops, not the sort of place that anyone would like to spend too much time without a bodyguard that’s for sure.

Anyway, we made it to the Old Town and after a bit of difficulty found a parking spot and made our way to the Museum, which by contrast is all rather nice.

I have to say that my expectations were low but once inside I quickly had to reassess my uninformed predictions.  Entrance is free and within five minutes I was open mouthed with respect for this Municipal Museum.

Three Museums actually.

We started in the Street Life Museum which recreates city life in the early twentieth century with buses and trains which amused the children and old fashioned shops that I remembered well enough but left my grandchildren unimpressed.


Upstairs we moved back two hundred years and there were carriages and recreations which I liked but scared some of the children.  There was a street scene which included a wheelwright workshop and that interested me because my great-great grandfather , Thomas Insley of Shackerstone in Leicestershire was a wheelwright and carriage maker just about one hundred years ago before his business went bust with the advent of the motor car.

At the very top of the building was a view over the River Hull and the previous site of the industrious city docks, all gone now of course but once this was one of the busiest fishing ports in England, a status only disputed by nearby Grimsby.  Rather sad now, no fishing, no ships just crumbling piers and rotting lichen covered timbers which will soon give in to the inevitable and fall into the muddy water and simply disappear.

I spoke briefly to a visitor from the south of England who seemed genuinely surprised by the history of the city.  I told him the story that Hull was allegedly the most bombed city in World-War-Two, this was because that despite a blackout no German Bomber crew could hardly miss the River Humber and also because having reached the English coast many crews lost their nerve to carry on, declared an imaginary aircraft fault and simply discharged their bombs on the first available target and just went home.


After the Street Life Museum we moved on to the History Museum but by this time the children were beginning to run out of patience so we rather dashed through the history of the area from the Iron Age to the Medieval and after an hour or so as I became increasingly conscious of their lack of attention we moved on.

We missed out the William Wilberforce Museum and the history of the abolition of slavery and I thought I might do that another day by myself.

So we left the Old Town of Hull and made our way back south for the return journey to Lincolnshire on the opposite side of the Humber and crossed the estuary over the suspension bridge.

At a little over two thousand, two hundred metres the Humber Suspension Bridge is the seventh largest of its type in the World.  This statistic used to be even more impressive because when it was first opened in 1981 it was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the World for the next sixteen years and the distance by road between Hull and Grimsby was reduced by nearly fifty miles as a consequence of the construction.

For the record, the longest single span suspension bridge is currently the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge in Japan.

Eventually we left the visitor area and made for the toll booths and crossed the river and then made our way back to Grimsby past the port of Immingham to the north which handles the largest quantity of goods by weight in the UK and by day is an untidy, grimy sort of place dominated by ugly petro-chemical works and soulless grey industrial buildings but by night is transformed into a glittering Manhattan skyline of tall buildings and bright lights and occasional dancing plumes of flames burning off excess gases which actually makes it all look rather attractive.

Over the last two days we had done our best to demolish the Premier Inn Hotel in Beverley and the Museums in Hull now it was the turn of my house to take the strain!


32 responses to “Museums of Hull

  1. That first museum looks like the York one with ye olde shoppes.

    I thought Hull made a good job of their marina, and this was years back before every scrotty coastal town in the UK produced a marina.

    Plus, the most beautiful toilets ever. Don’t tell me you didn’t visit? Classic. Have a google or I’ll find it for you. Hull victorian toilets should do it.

    Meanwhile I’m just waiting to see what Kev’s got to say about your ‘Ull review.


    • I am not really a connosewer of public toilets but now that you have mentioned it I will look them out next time that I go. The King Billy toilets look the best in Hull but they have been closed for a while now.

      I am becoming a big fan of Hull. The approaches are dreadful so it is best to wear dark glasses when driving in but the city centre is very good and I agree that the Marina is especially attractive. Kim is away so I was thinking og going today but it is wet and miserable so I will probably postpone.


      • Victoria Pier ones, although I admit the King Billy ones look equally as good. The potted plants in the VP ones were what did it for me. Think they were red geraniums back when I went.

        Went for an interview on t’ Ull Daily Wail. My lasting memory of the day was the amazing amount of prostitutes outside the railway station. In the daytime!


      • I am going to check them out now – the public conveniences that is, not the prostitutes!


      • Thought you were wet and miserable over there. Or do you mean via the internet? Here’s an interesting question. Why are all the pictures of Hull toilets men’s toilets? Obviously I’ve only seen the beauteous Ladies. Is there inherent sexism in toilet photography I ask?


      • I am not going out today, it is desperately miserable, I can’t even do any simple gardening.

        I thought that myself, it is a fair point but maybe urinals are just more artistically interesting than pans? I remember some interesting urinals at the Gaudi houses in Barcelona and at the Dali museum in Figueres but you would expect that I suppose. I am afraid that I cannot report back on the Ladies Rooms!

        I think there is a blog post here for you!


  2. Thank you, this has made up my mind. Our next weekend away has to be Hull! Your review was as entertaining as ever!


  3. We have cut our own throats by giving computers to kids. It means that whoever we are, teachers, grandparents, parents, we cannot compete with whatever is offered to them by a computer . A few years ago, on a school trip to Duxford, I found one of my Year 9 boys outside the Museum of Land Warfare. Do we have to go in? he asked. He actually preferred to stand outside and wait for the visit to finish, rather than look at Panzers, Soviet T-34s and all the other traditional toys for the boys. .


    • A sad fact of life John. Does it count as development? Possibly not. Fifteen years ago I caught my son downloading information from the computer to help with his homework. I asked him what he was doing and he said that he was putting some spelling mistakes in so that it looked like genuine work. I have to say that I was impressed with that!

      He reads books now, last week he returned my library of Spain travel books (Brennan, Lee etc.) as he prepares for his round the World year out travels.


  4. The crossroads of Beverley Rd and Cottingham Rd was my playground when I was at university in Hull in the 90s. There were some great pubs on the Bev Rd. The only approach I ever took was along Clive Sullivan Way and then up Bev Rd past the station, and don’t remember it being too bad. I haven’t been since 2013 so will have to go back for all the culture!


    • The Beverley Road is horrible and a real travel challenge to get into the city. I suspect local people know some better routes.

      You should go back for a weekend Richard, the city centre is really living up to the status of ‘Capital of Culture’.


  5. When I first left school and worked in Leeds, I was actually served by Mr Castelow in his shop – I think it was in Woodhouse Lane. Even in 1969 it was a place of wonder.


  6. Really like the sound of the museums – they’re definitely going on my list.


  7. The museums are lovely here, aren’t they? Thanks so much for sharing this. Hope you enjoy our City of Culture year. 🙂


  8. I’m impressed well you entertained two small grandchildren for a couple day.
    Not an easy undertaking. I especially like the museum, though they did not.


  9. I have never been to Hull, the Museums look very interesting and would definitely apeal to me. Cute grandkids😄


  10. The Street Life one looks good, Andrew, and as Kate says, not unlike the Castle Museum at York (and our more local one, Preston Hall 🙂 ).


  11. More re the Castelow shop: the outside of the shop at least must be a reconstruction because the original is still at 159 Woodhouse Lane on Streetview, next door to the Fenton pub. Thanks for this post: the museum is on our list of things to do this year. Will look out for you.


  12. Until a few week’s ago, I’d have never have thought about visiting a local museum. We had some visitors a few week’s ago and, during a rather soggy Wednesday, visited some local museums here in Swansea. Like you, I was not looking forward to it but was very impressed with what we found. Just goes to show that many of our towns and cities have these hidden gems, Andrew.

    I would have liked to have walked down that street in the first museum you visited. I’m sure it would have triggered lots of memories by what was in those shop windows?


    • It was good fun Hugh especially the old-fashioned sweet shop with all of sugary items that ruined my teeth fifty years or so ago. I could have spent a lot longer in the reconstructed Co-op and all of the old groceries on display but the children didn’t share my enthusiasm.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just wait until 50 years time when they are looking back at iPads, Postman Pat, and CBBC’s, and their children are showing no enthusiasm. At least they enjoyed the transport and taking apart The Premier Inn. You did a great job.


  13. Pingback: Hull, UK Capital of Culture – Kings, Queens, Churches, Public Conveniences and Statues | Have Bag, Will Travel

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