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December 2021,

On 26 November, a group of volunteers were given the opportunity to visit the Hull Maritime Museum one last time before major refurbishment works get underway.

Here Alison Keld talks about her visit.

Myself and other maritime media volunteers were invited for a final look inside the Maritime Museum before the hand-over to contractors to begin major renovation work.

With the museum collection now in safe storage the bare rooms revealed their Victorian splendour.

The tour began in the room where you would have seen the whale skeleton. A couple of things in here caught my attention. One was the pattern on the carpet depicting the shape of the whale, the other was the beautiful ornate ceiling rose above my head.

Whaletail
Whaletail
Ceiling Rose
Ceiling rose

We then progressed on to the staircase, originally intended to impress visitors by emphasising the Dock Company’s importance and wealth in the city.

Staircase
The grand staircase

At the top of the stairs on the first floor we entered the Sirius room, so called because of the wooden figurehead from the Trans-Atlantic paddle steamer Sirius carved into the shape of a Newfoundland dog that was displayed in here.

The mosaic floor tiles, decorative panelling and window grilles caught my attention in this room.

City Hall Window
City Hall window
Floor Tiles
Floor tiles
Three Crowns
Three crowns
Plasterwork
Plasterwork

Next, we entered the court room. Resembling a grand ballroom, this stunning room has many splendid features, like the floor with inlaid sections and brass ventilation panels. Above the arched windows are pairs of cherubs holding shields depicting the ports which have historically traded with Hull. Photo 8 and 9

Court Room 8
The Court Room
Inlaid Floor
Inlaid floor

I especially like the buildings’ many shapely curves. The workmanship required to achieve the visual appeal of the circular rooms is to be admired. See how the doors and architrave follow the curve of the room.

Round Room
The Round Room
A curved door
A curved door
Curved Architrave 11
Curved architrave

Up on the second floor I discovered it originally featured accommodation for the housekeeper for the Dock Company. According to early plans, the housekeeper had her bedroom in the circular room on the south-west corner and her sitting room in the circular room on the north-east corner. I was captivated by the great views from the porthole windows.

Porthole City Hall
A porthole through to the City Hall
Port Holes
Portholes
A View To Princes Dock
A view of Princes Dock Street

Our tour ended in the basement. Originally used for storage, the main surviving historical features are the arched ceilings, brick archways, curving brick corners, painted brickwork and cast-iron columns.

Basement arches
The basement

Most of the original Victorian features are to be retained and enhanced as part of the renovations, and I’m looking forward to the grand reveal, scheduled for 2024.