Hull Saturday

Saturday was the day of our family celebration, with a dozen family and friends coming from across the country (and France) to lunch with us at one of Hull’s newer eating places in Humber St in the Old Town. Fortunately, being Hull, the food was a little more down to earth than in a similar place in London, rather more filling (and mine at least actually came on a plate), the service was friendly and the cost perhaps half or less than it might have been in London, with the difference probably paying for both our hotel bill and train fares.

Not that we chose Hull for that reason. Hull was where Linda grew up and where we were married back in 1968, one of the less reported events of a rather spectacular year, though my recollections of it are rather hazy.

Before the lunch we had time to visit the Ferens where the Kothe Kollwitz show was spectacular and as always there were other things of interest too, thanks to the generosity of one of Hull’s great Methodist philanthropists, Thomas R Ferens, who gave the city its art gallery (and its University) but also had the sense to know the gallery needed a continuing income to buy works to show. One small disappointment was that the gallery space in which I had shown work in 1983 was closed for refubishment. Ferens was truly a remarkable man, both in business where he made Reckitts into one of the leading companies but in other ways. By 1920, when he was earning £50,000 a year (about £2.5m in today’s value) he was giving away £47,000 of it.

I didn’t quite have enough time to properly view the Kollwitz show, so promised myself I would return the following day before rushing out to go to Scale Lane. I got held up again in the square outside, where Morris Dancers were performing, and had to run most of the length of Whitefriargate to get to the bridge on time.

Because the bridge was opening as it does most Saturday mornings, probably mainly to check it still works, but also as an attraction to the city, as it is one of very few swing bridges on which the public are invited to ride as it swings. It’s a rather slow and sedate movement rather than a fairground ride, but is still something of an experience. It pivots around a centre close to the Old Town side, and because the bridge and its matching landside approach are both semicircular you can step on or off safely at any stage of its ninety degree swing.

My wife, slowly pushing a pushchair and baby across the swing bridge at Albert Dock entrance anticipated this attraction many years ago, probably because she was walking slowly and had stopped to appreciate the view. She got her ride despite notices forbidding it, flashing lights, warning sounds and gates. Fortunately she stayed in the middle of the bridge in safety and didn’t try to walk off before the bridge returned to its landward position.

We walked back across the high Myton Bridge, where the wind made it cold and difficult to stand still without holding the rail, then back towards the city centre, stopping to admire the new ‘Bean and Nothingness’ still being got ready to open in Whitefriar gate; we were able to go in and have a chat, but weren’t able to try the coffee.

Soon it was time to meet my son and his wife at Paragon (sorry, Hull) station, arriving after a long journey from the south coast where they had been holidaying, and to walk with them to Butler Whites to lunch with them and our other friends and family.

It was quite a long lunch, and after we had finished some had to rush away, while I led a short conducted tour of the Old Town for those who remained, finally leaving them with directions to station and car parks before finding another eating place in a ccorner of the now renamed Trinity Square. This was a totally different experience. Deafening noise, cramped seating, poor food, terrible service, a place to avoid unless you are totally drunk and want to shout at your friends. The town centre as we walked back to our hotel, an area frined who have visited Hull tell stories about on a Saturday night was civilised by comparison.

More here:
Riding the Bridge
A short Hull tour

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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