Tag Archives: Humber Bridge

Hull, UK City of Culture – Postcards

“ … (Hull is) a city that is in the world, yet sufficiently on the edge of it to have a different resonance” – Philip Larkin

Hull - The Deep

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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.

Hull Museum Street lifeinside-streetlife-museum

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.

carriage-makers-1903

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.

Hull History Museum

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!

hull-humber-bridge

http://www.visithullandeastyorkshire.com/

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 Riding of Yorkshire

Beverley Yorkshire Post Card

“East Yorkshire, to the uninitiated, just looks like a lot of little hills. But it does have these marvellous valleys that were caused by glaciers, not rivers. So it is unusual.” –  David Hockney

We have lived in Grimsby in the far east of England for five years.  I like Grimsby but it has to be said that it is an odd place.   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.

I mention this because we have friends who live in the charming town of Oakham in Rutland and who visit us here at least once a year.  When Richard and Pauline come to stay we need something to do but after two or three times I can assure you that there is little left to see of any interest in Grimsby.  On their most recent visit we needed to come up with something new.

My friend Dai Woosnam (who lives in Grimsby) is always chastising me for regularly flying to Europe but neglecting to travel in England and the UK.  He cannot understand why I have never been to Bath for example (one of the finest visitor cities in the UK) and to be fair he has got a point because I cannot explain why I have not been to Bath either.  Anyway, Bath is too far to go for a day trip from Grimsby so we studied the Reader’s Digest touring guide of Great Britain (1992 edition) for somewhere closer and came up with Beverley, the County town of East Riding in neighbouring Yorkshire, which from the description sounded rather hopeful.

Reader's Digest Touring Guide to Britain

It wasn’t a very promising start to the day weather wise however and grey cloud and drizzle did not fill me with enthusiasm for the forty mile journey west, then north across the River Humber.  The cloud was low and as sticky as toffee pudding and as we crossed the Humber Bridge at the highest point we drove through mist and fog but once across and toll paid the clouds began to break as we drove into the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The White Rose County of Yorkshire is the largest in England and for administrative convenience was once divided into Ridings, North, West and East, but no obvious fourth and I wondered why?

Well it turns out that there is a simple explanation because the word Riding is derived from a Danish word ‘thridding’, meaning a third. The invading Danes called representatives from each Thridding to a Thing, or Parliament and established the Ridings System.  I rather like the idea that Parliament is called a Thing! To this day, Yorkshire consists of three ridings, along with the City of York, and that’s why there is no fourth, or South, Riding.

We arrived in Beverley in the late morning and by the time we had interpreted the complicated car park payment process at a pay and display machine the sky was blue, the sun was shining and a day that started needing a pullover did not now even require a jacket.

Beverley Georgian Quarter

The name of the town came into use sometime in the tenth century and I always find it interesting how far the name of an English town or city has travelled world-wide.  In the United States the U.S. Board on Geographic names have for some reason dropped the third ‘e’ but there is a Beverly in Chicago, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Washington and West Virginia.  Beverly Hills in California is named after Beverly, Massachusetts so can indirectly be included in the list.

In Canada, as in USA the drop the third ‘e’ in Beverly, Toronto but in Australia they retain the correct spelling in Beverley, Adelaide and in a small town in Western Australia.

Beverley Market Place

The place was busy and we followed a stream of pedestrians who seemed to know where they were going and arrived quite quickly at the Market Place.  Ordinarily I would not find this an especially thrilling experience, even now after nearly sixty years I can recall being dragged around Leicester Market by my mother on a weekly basis, but Beverley Market, I have to say, was quite wonderful, busy, vibrant and full of life and I was so overcome by the moment I was talked into a rash purchase of a rusty garden ornament for £25 – my entire pocket money for the week.

I knew it was going to take me a while to get over that moment of shopping weakness so I steered us all away from the market and towards the ‘Georgian Quarter’ which I hoped would give me the time that I needed to recover my composure!

Rusty Garden Flower

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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It’s Nice To Feel Useful (5)

  

It’s nice to feel useful (5) …

Every so often I like to take a look at the search engine terms that may or may not have directed people towards some of my posts.  Some of them are just so funny and so here are ten more recent ones:

Joan of Arc getting burned at the stake clean images”.  Now, I guess that burning at the stake would have been a fairly messy business with all of that smoke and ash and burning embers rising up into the sky, not to mention the spitting fat as the flesh melted in the flames so I imagine that even if there were cameras in medieval France that the chances of getting a ‘clean’ image would have been rather difficult. I wrote a post about Joan of Arc so perhaps that is where the enquirer was directed?

Next, I have three searches about bridges.  The first one is just too specific for me to be able to help but I did write a post about this bridge after a visit to Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2008 – “how much space is between the beams on the stari most bridge”.  Second, this one from an enquirer whose stupidity is just immense – “what is a bridge” and finally this one which is almost equally as dumb – “why was the Humber bridge being built” – doh! Why did the chicken cross the road?

Hull Humber Bridge

Actually the  2,220 metre Humber Suspension Bridge is the fifth largest of its type in the World.  This is a very big bridge indeed but the 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.

Leading on from the Humber Bridge my next favourite is – “anne frank connection with hull” because as far as I can make out there is none other than the Hull to Rotterdam P&O ferry.

I have posted a few times about travelling in Italy and the inevitability of a statue of the Italian hero of unification Giuseppe Garibaldi and although everyone knows that he has a biscuit named after him I was surprised to come across this search term – “which italian town has a biscuit named after it”. Maybe the enquirer turned up at my post about Garbaldi when they were really looking for Genoese cake?

Giuseppe Garibaldi Molfetta Puglia Italy

Sex almost always rears its ugly head of course and “large Norwegian penis in a jar” is my offering  in this collection of search out takes.  I am not an expert on Norwegian penises, large or small, but I did visit the Penis Museum in Reykjavik and this is probably close enough to have recorded the visit to the blog.

Icelandic Penis Museum Reykjavik

This next search may or may not have anything to do with sex, I’ll leave readers to reach their own conclusions – “car park in Ciudad Rodrigo”.  I have visited and stayed in Ciudad Rodrigo but I give you my word that I absolutely did not hang around in town centre car parks!

For this selection of search terms I have save my favourite until last and this is it – “things to do in Tossa de Marr Spain for clairvoyants”. Now, call me a sceptic if you like but if you can see into the future what on earth does a clairvoyant need with a website of advertised events – why don’t they just look in their crystal ball?

I have been to Tossa de Mar and I have to say that palm reader, soothsayer or clairvoyant that it is a very fine place to visit.

Tossa de Mar Costa Brava Postcard

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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