Maritime volunteer, Julie Corbett took part in one of the guided tours being offered within the city centre, they are being delivered by volunteers who are training for their White Badge accreditation.
Here's Julie's experience of the guided tour.
We had a very pleasant time, guided along the river and course of the town docks of Hull. Here is more information about the walk.
We meet our guides Justine and Ailsa outside the Hull and East Riding Museum, just off High Street.
After introductions, health and safety instructions, details of length and generalities of the walk we set off. The walk stops in sixteen places. Justine explains that every guide brings something different to the walk, but the stopping points are always the same.
Heading first to the River Hull down the small passageway called a staith (after the old Norse for landing place). There are a number of these staithes along this part of the River Hull and North Bridge. This one is Chapel Lane Staith. This is where Hull, more properly Kingston upon Hull developed. In the photograph below you can see on a broad black strip of iron on the righthand building. This was to protect the wall from any damage by carts and carriages.
We walk down the staith towards the river. Once on the boardwalk we stop and hear a brief history of the origin of Hull. The area we can see to the right and left was the original harbour before the building of the town docks.
Hull (or Wyke as it was then known) came into existence in the late 12th century. The area belonged to Meaux Abbey, around seven miles to the north. It was highly successful trading post in these medieval times, and bought from Meaux by Edward 1, further developed as a port. Edward 1 gave the town the title of Kingston upon Hull.
Our next stop was back on the High Street opposite the William Wilberforce Museum. We learnt more about the trade to and from Hull and William Wilberforce’s work in the abolition movement.
My own history of the route is scattered with personal memories. I was finding it an odd experience to be guided round. This seeing the area through other people’s eyes introduced things I had missed. Even though I have walked hundreds of times down High Street I had never noticed the two spellings of Blaydes (the family name) and Blaides the name of the Staith.
I felt very looked after whilst crossing the roads (although it was made clear each time that we had to make the decision when it was safe to cross) and negotiating the various road surfaces. Hull has areas of medieval cobbles and lots of pieces of sculpture inserted into paths and pavements. You could spend days searching for them all.
In the photo is one instance where the footprint of older buildings, walls and structures have are incorporated into newer surfaces. The two blocks of brick work are the positions of a dock entrance.
This is where the first dock in Hull linked to the River Hull. It was simply known as ‘The Dock’ and, became The Old Dock when Humber Dock opened in 1809, and renamed Queen's Dock to honour a visit from Queen Victoria. Queen’s Dock was infilled in the early 1930’s and reborn as a much-loved city centre public park. You can read more about Queen’s Gardens here and the news of the future refurbishment of the park here.
The North End Shipyard, built on the original dock entrance from the River Hull to The Dock’s lock and lock gates. This is one of the six sites of the Hull Maritime Project. The most transformative of the six. Here are the details of what will become the permanent dry berth of the Arctic Corsair. The Arctic Corsair is the sole survivor of Hull’s distant-water, sidewinder fishing fleet and is a visible reminder of the long history of Hull’s deep sea trawling industry. You can read more here.
One of the great sculptural mysteries of Hull for me is the Solar Gate designed by the architectural firm Tonkin Liu. I had no idea that it did something with light.
We walked from Queen’s Gardens towards the marina past Beverley Gate and Prince’s Quay. We were still following the position of the walls as seen in the photo above.
One of the most recent additions to Hull’s skyline is the pedestrian and cycle walkway over Castle Street part of the A63. Dr Mary Murdoch the city’s first female doctor, as well as being a suffragist and resolute social campaigner. Mary was also the first woman in Hull to own a car, and well known for driving extremely fast and not very well. Dr Murdoch’s car was driven at the front of her funeral procession in 1916. Mary was well liked and respected by the city’s people and thousands lined the streets of her funeral procession.
In the photo above you can see building materials. A63 Castle Street is subject to a major upgrade and this along with work by the Environmental Agency and other projects makes Hull seem in constant flux and upheaval. It will be amazing when all the dust settles.
We are listening to Ailsa explain about another part of the maritime project. The Spurn Light Ship is due to move to Albert Dock to the west of this berth in Hull Marina (formally Humber Dock). The ship is to be restored and re-berthed in the marina when there will be some public access to the ship’s lantern for the first time. You can read here about the news regarding local Hull firm Dunston (Ship Repairs) Limited who have the repair and restoration contract.
We are coming to the final stretch of the walk now. They are still some stops left on the walk, but this is one of my favourite views. I am just old enough to remember when many ships and boats went up and down the River Hull. It was not unusual to be halted on the road by the lifting of North Bridge. Now the much newer Scale Lane Bridge (not included in this blog) swings open as a tourist attraction as well as letting river traffic through. You can find the swing times on the Hull City Council website here.
I also remember seeing the flooding of 1969 which prompted the building of the tidal surge barrier. Completed in 1980 it has been closed to protect the city more than thirty times. Parts of Hull have flooded since 1969.
The devastating floods of June 2007 showed how vulnerable is to Hull’s position on a flood plan is to rain and the city centre tidal floods of December 2013 show our susceptibility to the sea.
It is fitting that this maritime walk includes both the historical prosperity and the decline of wealth from fishing industry. It also looks to the future.