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24th June 2022

Hull City Council has today published a decision record that will see specialist design team The Manser Practice, brought in to assist with progressing plans for the creation of a new visitor attraction at the site of the South Blockhouse.

This appointment is an important milestone for the South Blockhouse Project, the £1.25m development made possible through the award of £1m from the National Highways Designated Funds programme.

The architecture firm were successful through an open tender process earlier this year and will design and develop permanent landscaping, and physical and digital heritage interpretation for the South Blockhouse site, following a community archaeology programme to be delivered this summer. The landscaping of the South Blockhouse site will for the first time create a dedicated visitor space showcasing this unique scheduled monument, and provide visitors with opportunities to learn more about its history.

The archaeology programme will be run by the Council’s in-house archaeologists, Humber Field Archaeology, and give members of the public the opportunity to work with professional archaeologists during excavations of the site and the analysis of the finds once complete. Keen archaeologists will have plenty of time to be involved, as the three-month long excavations will start this summer, with the full archaeology programme lasting until December 2024.

Councillor Paul Drake-Davis, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, said: “It’s fantastic to have such an experienced agency as The Manser Practice on board to help push this exciting project forward.

“The South Blockhouse is an important historical site and this scheme will be a place of education as archaeological opportunities are uncovered, as well as an eventual visitor attraction.”

Keith Emerick, Historic England Inspector of Ancient Monuments, said: “The South Blockhouse is a nationally important site, part of the much bigger Citadel. It’s exciting that this important project is starting, helping to raise the profile of heritage in Hull and giving local people the chance to get involved in the community dig in the summer.”

Fran Oliver, Project Manager of the National Highways’ A63 Castle Street major project in Hull city centre, said: “National Highways always aims to go above and beyond building, operating, maintaining and improving roads and we’re thrilled to have been able to fund work on this project. The South Blockhouse is a fascinating and important part of Hull’s history. We are greatly looking forward to working with The Manser Practice and all our other partners in creating this unique visitor space, supporting communities to become involved in its development and discover more about this incredible Tudor monument.”

Located on the east bank of the River Hull, the South Blockhouse is a scheduled ancient monument of both national and local importance, unique in its cloverleaf design and rare layout as a self-contained fort. Its construction was ordered by Henry VIII in 1541 to support military campaigns and to protect Hull as a vital port from internal and external threats, working as one element in a larger scheme of state-of-the art defences.

Project timelines to be expected are as follows:

  • Archaeological excavations of the South Blockhouse – July to September 2022
  • Archaeological post-excavation assessment, analysis and publication of findings – October 2022 to December 2024
  • Consultation on design options for South Blockhouse visitor attraction – spring/summer 2022
  • Site development for visitor attraction – late 2022 to late 2024

National Highways manages four designated funds, allocated by the Government, to deliver benefits above and beyond building, maintaining and operating England’s strategic roads.