“ … (Hull is) a city that is in the world, yet sufficiently on the edge of it to have a different resonance” – Philip Larkin
Tag Archives: Hull 2017
So we left the charming East Yorkshire town of Beverley and made our way back south for the return journey to Lincolnshire on the opposite side of the Humber but before crossing the bridge we called in at the visitor centre on the north side.
At a little over 2,220 metres long 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.
The longest single span suspension bridge is currently the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge in Japan.
A sad fact about the bridge is that it is a favourite jumping place for people committing or attempting suicide. More than two hundred incidents of people jumping or falling from the bridge have taken place since it was opened and only five have survived so it is a fairly reliable way of doing yourself in! And it is surprisingly easy. There is a footpath across the bridge, there is no barrier, the railings are no more than a metre high and there is no net to catch jumpers*.
As a result, plans were announced in December 2009 to construct a suicide barrier along the walkways of the bridge but this was never implemented with design constraints being cited as the reason but it probably had something to do with cost and now there is talk of installing a Samaritan’s Hot line on the bridge instead.
In 2010 a Samaritan’s Counsellor committed suicide by jumping off the bridge.
There is a visitor centre at the bridge but it is in urgent need of a bit of updating. It is built in the Communist Brutalist style, aggressive and concrete but there are big plans and The Humber Bridge Board has submitted a planning notice to East Riding Council outlining details of the proposed new visitor attraction for the iconic landmark.
It includes a glass elevator and viewing platform designed to take tourists to the top of the bridge’s north tower, as well as a new visitor centre and hotel in the viewing area car parks. Whether it will come to anything we will have to wait and see.
There was a pleasant walk from the car park down steep steps made muddy and slippery following a few days of rain so we carefully followed the well worn track down to the foreshore where we could fully appreciate the majesty of the bridge spanning the river. Actually, the Humber isn’t really a river at all because for its entire length of only forty miles or so after it originates at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Trent it is technically an estuary (I only mention this in case someone challenges me on this important point of detail).
It may be one of the shortest rivers in England but it is also one of the most important as it deals with natural drainage from everything on the east side of the Pennines, the North Midlands and the Yorkshire Moors. That is a lot of water and the reason why if you jump off the bridge then you are going to die!
Eventually we left the visitor area and made for the toll booths and crossed the river for the second time 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 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.
*According to Wikipedia the three biggest suicide black spots in the World are:
- Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, Nanjing, China
- Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
- Prince Edward Viaduct, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The three most popular suicide spots in England are the two hundred and fifty miles of London Underground, the one hundred and sixty metre high cliffs at Beachy Head in Sussex and the Humber Bridge.
It was far too early to go to the ferry dock so my plan was to fill the afternoon with a visit to The Deep, which is an aquarium built on a regenerated site where the muddy river Hull joins the grey waters of the Humber and on the site of the now disused Hull shipyards and docks.
On account of the fact that I have got a one year pass that gives me free entry until next June and I am determined to get full value from this I have visited The Deep several times but Jonathan had never been so I dragged him along in the hope that he would like an afternoon looking at fish and insects just as much as I would.
“(Hull is) a city that is in the world, yet sufficiently on the edge of it to have a different resonance”. Philip Larkin
Shortly after a visit to Hull the City was named the UK City of Culture 2017, seeing off competition from Dundee, Leicester and Swansea.
What was astonishing about this is that the announcement came ten years after Hull was placed at number one in the first edition of Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places to Live in the UK. But there is something inspirational about this Victorian whaling town, whose city hall and maritime buildings speak of great civic pride, it was the most bombed city by Hitler’s Luftwaffe, had the stuffing knocked out of it after the cod wars came and went and is raked on an almost daily basis by a biting wind straight off the Urals
Normally I take a low cost airline flight to a chosen destination but with a bargain price of £23 each for a return ferry crossing from Hull to Rotterdam this was too good an opportunity to miss. My son, Jonathan, was due to come and stay for a few days and with the weather too bad for golf then I needed alternative plans that would get him out of bed by mid-afternoon.