Having walked, cycled or driven across the Humber Bridge, we find ourselves suddenly in Yorkshire, or more precisely the East Riding of Yorkshire – the term ‘riding’ denoting an administrative jurisdiction or electoral district – at the western end of an urban sprawl which starts with the town of Hessle and continues along the north bank of the Humber to Hull, or Kingston Upon Hull to give it its full name.
The origins of the city date from the 11th century when a settlement called Wyke grew up on the banks of the River Hull, an offshoot of the Humber. In the centre of the city are a set of gardens on different levels called Queen’s Gardens, with a statue of champion of the abolition of slavery William Wilberforce on top of a Doric column; Wilberforce was born in Hull in the building bearing the unsurprising name Wilberforce House which is open to the public as a museum. The gardens are on the site of what used to be the largest dock in Britain, opened in 1778. During the 19th century, in the days before whaling became a dirty word, Hull had the largest whaling fleet in Britain with over 60 whalers. In 1820 the fleet was responsible for the demise of 688 whales – inconceivable in these times of hand-wringing over the fate of these magnificent creatures. The last whaler went out in 1869.
There is a pub in the old part of Hull called Ye Olde Black Boy, the oldest licensed premises in Hull, which is one of the places featured in the city’s popular ghost walks, since it has a reputation for hauntings. Drinkers here have reputedly succeeded in capturing ghostly apparitions on film, while one was allegedly grabbed round the neck by a phantom pair of hands appearing from the bar wall. But before you rush to blame the strength of the drinks served at the bar for these claims, it is not only humans who have been affected: rumour has it that a landlord’s dog had to be put down as a result of the trauma suffered by the poor mutt after spending a night in the bar downstairs.
For a list of events in Hull see here.
Map of the area.