Whenever someone finds out you’re from Hull, they will always make a comment on it. I don’t know if this happens in others places, but it’s definitely something I’ve put up with since I became aware of Hull’s status as a deprecating punchline. I’ve lived in the leafy suburbs of Hull my entire life. Far enough away that I was in a different school district; close enough to still suffer from the accent. Back when I was a
naive little super cool preteen, the in thing to do was to buy yourself a Hull Yorkshire hoody and change your Myspace location to Hullywood. I was enamoured by this city, and embraced its less than adequate reputation. But as I got older I became acutely aware of what little we had to offer. The lack of culture, the seemingly uneducated masses, the accent. And I became anti-Hull. But after spending another three years here for university, I started to come round again. I don’t know if it was the constant stream of other students complaining of how much they hated it, or if I just began noticing what was going on around me, but once again I became Team Hull, and I never had any doubt over whether we would win City Of Culture.
Every list of what ‘Hull has to offer’ so far had included the same things: patties, chip spice, the Humber Bridge. Boring. So I’m bringing some new things into the mix:
1. The Architecture
Now I’m no Ted Mosby, but I can spot an impressive building when I see one. Hull’s city centre and Old Town are brimming with decadent buildings, most of which are adorned with statues, and gargoyles, and history. The Maritime Museum, the Guildhall, and the Town Hall are some of my favourites– all of which are within a five minute walking distance from one another, before you spread into the arches and extravagant statues of the Old Town.
2. The History
When history and Hull are in the same sentence, it’s always about the fish. Or William Wilberforce. And as important as the abolishment of slavery was, nothing tops my love of the monarchy. When King Charles I attempted to get into Hull in 1642, he was refused entry. Something that was (kind of) repeated in 2012, when Hull was one of the only cities in the UK not to apply to have a street party for the Queen’s Jubilee. I especially enjoy Hull’s apparent disdain for the monarchy when I remember that we were originally a King’s Town (but I guess I’m alone in this as no one but me ever seems to call it Kingston upon Hull).
3. THE FISH
I know I said I wasn’t gonna mention the fish. But it was a lie. I’ll admit that for a Hullensian I know very little about our maritime past, but I do know that we have a bunch of fish immortalised in the streets of Hull, and that you can go around and try to find them all. Even if you’re not attempting the proper walk, it’s always a nice surprise to look down and think ‘heh, I’m on a stingray’. And although not technically fish, their amphibious cousins popped up in 2010 in the form of the Larkin Toads. Occasionally you’ll spot one whilst on a bus and remember how fun Hull can be when it wants to.
4. The Literature
I remember attending an open day for Hull Uni when I was in sixth form, and a stereotypical eccentric looking English professor was shouting that it was “the most poetic city in England” (a quotation from Peter Porter). Although it may have been a little bit of propaganda for all the future Literature students, it does seem to have some truth to it. From great Metaphysical poets (Andrew Marvell) to grumpy old librarians (Philip Larkin), we have it all. The honorary speaker at my graduation was even a poet, but all I remember about that is that she rhymed Hull with gull.
5. The University
Okay, so I may be more than a little biased– but I love the University of Hull. Throughout my teenage years I was completely adamant that I wouldn’t be going here. But then I went to an open day with school, and then another, and then one with my parents. And then I was sold. I knew I’d made a good choice during Freshers week, when one of my lecturers welcomed us all with wine. I learnt about Disney and gender and the Renaissance and The Beatles. I had lecturers explain existentialism by telling us we could storm out the room immediately and face no repercussions, but we would never dare to do it because it was against the rules. I watched as lecturers made students reenact JFK’s assassination, whilst he poked them with a giant stick where they were shot. It was a really great three years, and I couldn’t have written this list without including it.
There are plenty of other things I love about Hull, but seeing as we’re all over the Internet right now, you can probably find the rest in somebody else’s list. I may have lost my accent over the years, but I definitely regained my love for the city. I just think the media needs to realise that there is more to Hull than slavery and The Beautiful South.
Read some more stuff about your next City of Culture:
City of Culture? Hull is a city of poets (The Telegraph)
Hull: the ultimate Venn diagram (The Guardian)*
We’ve been to Hull and back (The Guardian)
*I walked passed the Venn Building at Hull Uni about 800000 times and never thought ‘as in Venn diagram guy?’ I even had a housemate fall asleep in the toilets on a night out, and have to be let out by a security guard hours later.