A Day out in Hull Old Town

On arrival in Hull, members of FLCM split up and did their own thing but to start with most visited the Tourist Information Centre in the City Hall and then went across the road to the Ferens Art Gallery. 

There was a good representation of art from old masters including Franz Hals and many of his Dutch contemporaries – not surprising really when Holland is just across the water from Hull – and more modern artists such as Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Atkinson Grimshaw  (pictures out on loan) and David Hockney. But the picture which caught my eye was a huge magnificent one by Rosa Bonheur of a male and female lion with three cubs. Bonheur (1822-1899) was an early feminist. She smoked cigarettes and wore men’s clothing whilst working amongst animals and for which she had to have police permission!  From childhood she had painted animals and the lions were as realistic and as sharp as any modern photograph. 

Some members then visited the Maritime Museum but my husband and I went on to the Old Town which reminded me very much of Bruges with its brick built merchants` houses, warehouses and narrow cobbled High Street which connected to the parallel River Hull by a series of alleyways, and where we had a light lunch. The beautiful house of William Wilberforce had an exhibition of his life when, as a member  of parliament he campaigned for years for the abolition of the slave trade. There was a separate exhibition on slavery but it was too horrible for me to spend any time in there. 

Next the Master’s House, another beautiful mansion on the High Street and now owned by the National Trust. Entry was free to all to see the magnificent plasterwork staircase. (The rest of the house was let privately to an architectural practice.)

We had an entertaining visit to the Streetlife Museum of Transport. On the ground floor there were electric trams in a street of late Victorian/Edwardian shops including a Co-op and a bicycle shop. Around the corner was a rail signal box. Upstairs were lifelike horses pulling carriages and trams with all the sounds of a Georgian/early Victorian street and there was a distinct smell of horses! There was so much to see including, on a mezzanine level, some examples of vintage motorcars.

By this time we were again in need of refreshment and a cup of tea in the city centre Queens Gardens answered. We sat in the sunshine on a terrace overlooking quite a sizeable park with its lawns and mature trees, large duck pond and a magnificent floral display and fountains. Queens Gardens was once the U.K.’s largest dock and was renamed after Queen Victoria. After new docks arrived in 1930, it was filled in and laid out as a very successful city centre park.

Then on to the 700 year old Holly Trinity Church, the largest non cathedral church in the U.K.

Unfortunately, we found it closed at 3.00pm and missed a visit to its interior. But across Trinity Square was the old Grammar School attended by William Wilberforce and Andrew Marvell. The interior was imaginatively laid out as an old school with many “hands on” exhibits for children. A small exhibition in the cellar was of the cramped life in the slums when a dozen families had to share one outside dry lavatory. And, of course, cholera, typhoid and other diseases were rampant in such crowded conditions. Upstairs was the replica exhibition of the artefacts retrieved from Tutankhamen’s Tomb arranged in the same way as when the originals were found, together with the story of Lord Canaervon`s and Carter’s expedition.

All too soon it was time to return to the coach. Five hours had sped by and we had not seen half of what there was to see. We promised ourselves a return visit in the near future – perhaps just before Christmas.

Elizabeth Nash