Tag Archives: Hull

Yorkshire, Beverley and Hornsea

Hornsea Beach Yorkshire

February school half-term and I had a visit from the grandchildren to plan for which can be a stressful experience as generally when they visit they spend a week dismantling and redecorating the house and trashing the garden .

As always I made some preparations but this is rather like building the Maginot Line, a good idea, very expensive but ultimately useless!

Since 2011 I have lived in the east coast town of Grimsby and every so when they visit it is my job to arrange entertainment.  This can be a challenge because to be honest and I don’t think I am being unfair here there just isn’t a great deal to do in Grimsby.

I like the town but it has to be said that it is an odd place.  It is a community in decline.  On the south bank of the Humber Estuary it is so far east that the only place to go after this is the North Sea and there aren’t any ferries to Europe as there are in Hull on the north side of the river.  It is a dead end.  It is a place that you only go to by choice.  No one visits Grimsby by accident.  You cannot stumble upon it while taking a leisurely drive along the coast as say in Northumberland or East Anglia.  It can never be an unexpected discovery.  You don’t go to Grimsby unless you are going to Grimsby!

This half-term I decided to find a reasonably priced hotel and let them trash someone else’s place instead.  Unfortunately for the Premier Inn Company I chose their hotel in Beverley in Yorkshire just a few miles north of Hull, the UK Capital of Culture for 2017.

hull

We arrived late on Monday afternoon and proceeded immediately to take the place apart – I was sure that the police would arrive at any minute in a blitz of flashing blue lights and screeching sirens  to take us away. Within minutes it looked like Belgium after the German army had driven through in 1940 on the way to France.  But all was not lost and eventually they calmed down and we went for evening meal in the dining room which we managed to leave an hour or so later without completely destroying the place.

North Sea Hornsea

Next day it was a lovely late Winter morning and after breakfast I made a decision that it was worth making a short journey to the coast to the North Sea town of Hornsea.  It took us about thirty minutes to drive there.

On arrival I was immediately impressed.  I live near the resort town of Cleethorpes but although it is a popular holiday resort it has to be said that it is just a muddy estuary where the sea is barely visible for long periods of the day but this was real North Sea coast with a raging sea, barnacled groynes, pounding surf, churning water and a pebble beach clattering away as it was constantly rearranged by the tidal surge.

Hornsea Beach Yorkshire

I liked it but the children liked it even more and once down on the beach they made a run for the sea.  I called after them to stop but it was hopeless, shouting into a wind that just carried my instructions away back towards the promenade and they charged like the Light Brigade towards the water.

Inevitably they fell in.  William first and then Patsy, Molly managed to stay vertical but still got soaked by the waves.  I had no change of clothing of course (a lesson learned there) so after I had dragged them from the sea we had to walk a while and let the stiff wind blow the moisture from their clothes.  Marks out of 10 for Granddad – ZERO.

Hornsea Yorkshire Winter Beach

I liked Hornsea, a seaside town off the main visitor route, rather inaccessible and certainly not on any main tourist trail.  I would absolutely go back there again, maybe even for a weekend break (no children).

Wet through we returned to Beverley to the Premier Inn where we changed and showered and then simply enjoyed the room.  None of the children were enthusiastic about visiting the town centre and I wasn’t going to argue with them on that point because being around shops can be another challenge so we wasted the afternoon away as we prepared for a second night in the dining room and a plan to spoil everyone else’s evening!

Yorkshire Hornsea

The River Humber Suspension Bridge

Hull Humber Bridge

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.

Humber Facts

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.

Humber 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).

River Humber

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.

Beverley, East Yorkshire – A Minster and a Parish Church

St Mary's Church Beverley

The ‘Georgian Quarter’ is not a huge area, the main road ‘North Bar Within’ is barely two hundred yards long but it has been well preserved and is flanked with elegant town houses with handsome front doors with gleaming brass furniture.

It is rare that one small town boasts two wonderful historic churches, but that is the case for the East Yorkshire town of Beverley. The most famous of the two is without doubt Beverley Minster, a wonderful monastic church but at the other end of town, just inside the last surviving medieval town gate, stands the glorious medieval church of St Mary.

Sir Tatton Sykes, prolific nineteenth century church restorer, once famously remarked that the west front of St Mary’s was ‘unequalled in England and almost without rival on the continent of Europe’. Now, Sir Tatton may be forgiven for seeing the church with the rose-tinted spectacles of local enthusiasm but the truth is that St Mary’s is a beautiful church, and must surely warrant inclusion in any list of the great parish churches of England.

We had come to see the Minster of course but finding ourselves outside the church it seemed rude not to pay a visit and we were soon very glad that we did.  It is an eye-catching structure from outside and the doorway is framed with stone carvings of gargoyles with scary faces and bulging eyes but once past the ugly bug invitation committee we passed into an elaborate and sumptuous interior which is in contrast to the normal austerity of Anglican churches.

Inside the church is a treasure chest of stained glass windows, two magnificent ceiling paintings, one of the constellation of stars and another of Anglo-Saxon Kings of England and a trail of stone carvings that requires a printed map to try and find them all.  Most famous of all is perhaps the carving of the March Hare, a rabbit dressed as a Pilgrim and said to have inspired Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland although I can find no real evidence to support that particular claim.

Mad March Hare Beverley St Mary's

We spent half an hour or so in the Church which too be fair was long enough for Kim and Pauline because they now had plans to visit the shops.  I may have mentioned before that I am not a big fan of shopping and today I was ably supported by my friend Richard.  The trouble with English towns is that they all have the same shops, there is practically no individuality in the town centres.  Every shop that I can expect to find in my home town could also be found here.  These are not shops that interest me a great deal in Grimsby so it was completely unlikely that they would do so here in Beverley.

Even worse than this however is the fact that town centre shops are in decline and just as in every other English town there is an over-supply of banks, building societies and pay day loan money lenders.  The trouble with financial service providers is that they simply cannot make their window displays interesting and except for a different logo all they can display is a list of lending and savings rates most of which are much the same anyway.

To be fair there were some local shops here in Beverley and two iconic WH Smiths bookshops (Grimsby WH Smiths closed down in 2015) but nothing that was so interesting that it would get me through the door.  I was more interested in the road surface.  Beverley market place has traditional cobbles and in 2013 there was a lot of controversy when the local council wanted to tear them up and replace them with modern block paving in the interests they said of health and safety.  Luckily the residents of the town were having none of it, there were howls of protests and eventually the council was obliged to back down.

Beverley Minster

After lunch in smart little town centre café we made our way now along busy streets with buskers and street entertainers until we reached the Minster.  A magnificent Gothic structure which towers over the whole of the town.  Inside there was some music, an organ recital and we were told that we could only go in by paying £5 to listen to it.  That was enough for Kim and Pauline to abandon the plan straight away and return to the shops but Richard and I were assured that it would finish in five minutes and then we could go in for nothing.  Like true skinflints we decided to wait!

Minster is an honorific title given to particular churches in England most usually those that have been associated with monastic life sometime in the past.  Church hierarchy is a complicated matter because a Minster falls between Church and Cathedral but can confusingly stray either way.  Beverley Mister is a Church but thirty miles away York Minster is a Cathedral.  Beverley has a Bishop but he is based in York.  In London, Westminster is a Cathedral and an Abbey and a Minster and down the road there is a Roman Catholic Cathedral of the same name.

It is an impressive building for sure and inside there are soaring columns, high vaulted windows, chapels and tombs but decoration is sparse and compared to St Mary’s Church it seemed strangely austere and functional.  We stayed for a while until we were spotted taking photographs without a permit (£3) from which we were excused when Richard pointed out that he had spent an exaggerated £15 in the gift shop and then we left.

By now it was late afternoon so we returned to the market to collect our garden ornament purchases and then we left Beverley and made our way back to the Humber Bridge.

Beverley Minster

Age of Innocence – 1958, The Cod Wars With Iceland

Ross Tiger Grimsby Fishing Heritage Museum

Ross Tiger” by Grimsby Artist Carl Paul – www.carlpaulfinearts.co.uk

In 1958 Britain went to war – this time with Iceland.  The First Cod War lasted from 1st September until 12th November 1958 and began in response to a new Icelandic law that tripled the Icelandic fishery zone from four nautical miles to twelve to protect its own fishing industry.

The British Government declared that their trawlers would fish under protection from Royal Navy warships in three areas, out of the Westfjords, north of Horn and to the southeast of Iceland.  All in all, twenty British trawlers, four warships and a supply vessel operated inside the newly declared zones.  This was a bad tempered little spat that involved trawler net cutting, mid ocean ramming incidents and collisions.  It was also a bit of an uneven contest because in all fifty-three British warships took part in the operations against seven Icelandic patrol vessels and a single Catalina flying boat.

Read the full story…

Entrance Tickets – The Deep, Kingston upon Hull

The Deep

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.

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Postcards from Hull, UK City of Culture

Hull Humberside Yorkshire

“(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

Hull Humber Bridge

Hull - The Deep

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P&O Mini-Cruise – Hull to Rotterdam

Hull to Rotterdam

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.