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.
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 shops, 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!