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Hull Maritime volunteer, Julie Corbett talks about the importance of accessibility and the Arctic Corsair.

Work began on the refurbishment of Queens Gardens in May 2023. You can read brief details here. An important feature of the work is improvement in accessibility. At the end of this fourteen-month enhancement Queen’s Gardens will be an integral link between the Maritime Museum and the new home of the Arctic Corsair. The Arctic Corsair is the sole survivor of Hull’s distant-water, sidewinder fishing fleet.

Queens Gardens (23/05/23) Preparations for improvement works

Queens Gardens was Hull’s first dock. The dock connected to the river Hull at the North End Shipyard. The dock was closed and infilled in the 1930s. The original dock lock and entrance was south of North Bridge. This is now being developed as a new visitor attraction and where the new, permanent dry berth for the Arctic Corsair will be. You can read more about the history of the Arctic Corsair in this blog post.

One of the most important considerations for this Hull maritime project across its five sites and two ships is accessibility. This is a very broad and necessary task interwoven through the work. Two examples are the project teaming up with Community Team for Learning Disabilities, Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust and testing access symbols and phrases to be used with displays and information boards (learn more here) and the fitting of a lift into the fish hold of the Arctic Corsair so people with compromised mobility can visit below decks.

The Arctic Corsair is undergoing a full restoration at Dunston's Ship Repairs in Albert Dock. The trawler was berthed in the museum quarter from 1998 until it was moved in 2019 for the first stage of its repairs. You can see how the trawler looks now part way through the work here.

View of river Hull and mud accumulation from the deck of the Arctic corsair when berthed adjacent the museum quarter in 2017.

If you watched the Arctic Corsair being moved from its berth on the river Hull in 2019 it was clearly a delicate process. The river Hull is a tidal and is navigable for several miles inland. However, the size of vessel and the timing of any such voyage is naturally restricted by the conditions physical of the river.

Mouth of river Hull, Sammy’s Point, and the Deep building and also in bottom right decommissioned ‘dolphin’ an iron covered, concrete mooring.

And what have dolphins to do with accessibility? Well, the living and breathing ones haven’t but dolphin is a name given to a particular piece of maritime equipment.

A ‘dolphin’ is a floating or fixed structure which provides temporary mooring. The one shown in Figure 3 has been incorporated into the promenade at the end of Nelson Street. You can see the river flows between areas of intertidal mud and sand banks. When the river Hull had more traffic going along it this mud was regularly cleared.

Before the development of Hull’s town docks a small fleet of ‘mud ships’ cleared the area on the river Hull from the mouth of the river to around where the North bridge is now.

River hull at low tide showing the mud levees and the curved nature of the waterway.

Today the dredging regime is very different on the river Hull. At low tide the accumulation of mud levees is noticeable as is the curvature of the river. It is the stretch of the river shown above that the Arctic Corsair will need to enter her final dry berth from.

The entrance to North end shipyard photographed from the east bank looking towards the position of Queens Gardens and showing the sealed temporary lock gate. The accumulation of mud at low tide and the width of the channel available for shipping movements

Originally the Arctic Corsair was going to enter the lock stern first. As you can see from the artist’s impressions included in this piece. Further modelling and surveying of the manoeuvring required to pilot the vessel into this berth has necessitated a change of plan. The Arctic corsair will be going bow first into the berth from the river. To do this the tidal barrier has to be lowered to keep a maximum amount of water in the river and temporary moorings (dolphins) need to be deployed to assist positioning and protection of the riverbanks.

The bow of the Arctic Corsair will be seen above the North End shipyard dry berth and railings and will be a dramatic first view of the visitor attraction.

The opening is planned for autumn 2024.