Tag Archives: Humber Estuary

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/

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

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.

Three Trains – Grimsby to Cleethorpes

Lincolnshire (no Grimsby)

“Grimsby was not at all what I had expected…. The town centre was not compact and charming and town like, but grubbily urban with busy roads which were difficult to cross on foot” – Bill Bryson

Since July 2011 I have lived in the east coast town of Grimsby and every so often I get to entertain my grandchildren for a few days at a time.  This can be a challenge because to be honest there isn’t a great deal to do in Grimsby.  My grandson likes trains so one day last year I planned a three train treat, a main line ride from Grimsby to Cleethorpes, a promenade sightseeing trip and a ride on a narrow gauge steam train.

I like Grimsby but it has to be said that it is an odd place.  I am not sure what Bill Bryson was expecting to find, Chichester or Banbury perhaps? Grimsby is a town 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.

A postcard map of Lincolnshire doesn’t even show Grimsby even though it is the second largest city/town in the county after Lincoln.  It doesn’t get any visitors unless they are on business and, believe me they, don’t really want to go there and it doesn’t get any tourists.  I mean it doesn’t get any tourists!  As a measure of this let me tell you it is completely impossible to buy a post card of Grimsby anywhere in the town.  There is nothing in Grimsby that anyone would want a post card of.  I challenge anyone to find a reference to Grimsby in any visitor guide to England!

Cleethorpes Lincolnshire Clouds

My day out started at the railway station which is an area close to the old Market Square.  By all accounts this was once an attractive part of the town with a traditional market place surrounded by Georgian houses and old-fashioned traditional family shops.  The sort of place that we remember fondly in a foggy mist of 1950s nostalgia, and then in the 1960s the modernist architects and town planners did their worst and demolished it all to make way for Soviet style concrete construction of modern shops, a hotel, offices, banks and a gloomy underpass and today, except for a good statue that pays tribute to the fishermen of Grimsby, it is a place without heart or soul.

On any average day here you will find unemployed men drinking from about nine o’clock in the morning (unemployment in Grimsby is 50% higher than the national average), teenage girls pushing their babies in push chairs (Grimsby has the third highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the UK) and unemployable young men in hoodies and track suit bottoms or if not track suit bottoms then jeans slung low around the hips to show off a fake designer label band on their underpants.

Grimsby Old Market Place 1960s 2 Large

With nothing really useful to do most of the young people in the Market Place are reduced to making important decisions like which part of the body to have pierced or tattooed. Personally I cannot understand why anyone (unless they are a Maori) would want to disfigure themselves in this way but in Grimsby and all across the UK bodies are decorated with lions, wolves and dragons, goblins, fairies and skulls, a comprehensive A to Z of boys’ and girls’ names and more Indian braves than General George Armstrong Custer  had to stand against at the Battle of the Little Big Horn!

Recently I went to have a haircut and waiting in front of me was a woman with a low cut top and tattooed writing all over her voluminous breasts.  She was a big woman (Grimsby has an adult obesity rate of over 30%) and although I was too embarrassed to make a close inspection I suspect it might have been the complete works of William Shakespeare with space left over for Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’.

In between the new Market Place, with pointless pavement water fountains, where rag-arsed kids who are playing truant from school dodge the water jets, and the railway station there is a new street layout called ‘shared space’  which is a crazy paved area where neither traffic or pedestrians have any sort of priority.  It is the mad idea of an English urban planner called Ben Hamilton-Baillie who proposes that road/pavement planning should be based on what he calls behavioural psychology.  Apparently he bases this theory on the basis that he has visited Utrecht in the Netherlands and it works there.  The point that he seems to have overlooked is that Utrecht is a pedestrianised traffic free city centre.

Grimsby Shared Space

This man who is plainly deluded says that… to make a street safe, you need to make it dangerous. If a driver feels like they have got to really watch out then they will respond accordingly. By deliberately introducing a bit of uncertainty then you get remarkable improvements in terms of safety.”

England it seems has a talent for producing a long line of barmy architects.

It doesn’t come as a great surprise that it doesn’t work of course and despite paying this man a king’s ransom the local council had to eventually climb down, reinstate pedestrian crossings and proper pavements because no one in Grimsby was ready for a space age solution to the traffic problems of the modern town.

After visiting a cash machine at the Halifax Building Society we walked the hundred yards or so to the train station, bought our tickets and went to the platform to catch our train which was due in five minutes time.   We were waiting for a Class 158 Desiro Trans Pennine Express but there was nothing express about it this morning because the information board advised us that it was approximately twenty minutes late which shouldn’t have been a great surprise because according to its own website Trans Pennine Express only ever achieves about 85% reliability on providing services at the scheduled time.

Grimsby Railway Station

Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic

Cleethorpes Lincolnshire

Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, UK

Cleethorpes is not a glamorous place

You’ll never see a famous face

No swanky yachts or cruise ships here

No sipping champagne just swilling beer

But in the morning with the early tide

It’s a place to go and photograph with pride.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle – Sunlight on Sea

Cleethorpes Lincolnshire

Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, UK

Cleethorpes is not a glamorous place

You’ll never see a famous face

No swanky yachts or cruise ships here

No sipping champagne just swilling beer

But in the morning with the early tide

It’s a place to go and photograph with pride.

Amsterdam Mini-Cruise

Normally we take a low cost airline flight to our chosen destination but now that I live in Grimsby near to the passenger port of Hull this time we decided to take our chances on the high seas and take a P&O mini-cruise.  The P&O website makes everything sound rather grand and markets the North Sea crossing like this:

Mini cruises to Amsterdam include a 2-night stay, travelling in style in one of our ensuite cabins and taking advantage of a host of facilities onboard. You will find a fantastic range of dining experiences with the famous West End Langan’s Brasserie and our Four Seasons buffet restaurant. After your meal why not relax in one of our stylish bars, take in a film at the cinema or even join the high-rollers in the casino? There is also live entertainment for the whole family, plus hundreds of great deals can be found in our onboard shop’.

I have never been cruising so this all sounded rather seductive until Micky pointed out that this wasn’t really a cruise at all but just a simple ferry crossing and more of a sow’s ear than a silk purse and that I wouldn’t need my dinner jacket because there was no chance of being invited to the captain’s table because he would be too busy negotiating the ship through the busy shipping lanes of the North Sea regions of Humber and Thames.