Unintended Destination

In 2002 my partner and i came to York to give her sister a couple of weeks’ break caring for their father. There were a few days overlap on her return which we spent exploring the area neither of us knew. One trip took us to Hull, driving through Beverley and taking the Hull Road, to follow signs to the Docks. We saw lines of cranes, but no ships – not at all what i had expected, as a few years earlier i had read that there were plans for Hull to become Britain’s largest Port!!

Then, a wrong turning took us along Holderness Rd, which seemed an even more depressed area than the Stratford Rd in Birmingham, which we knew so well. I was beginning to wonder what we had come to Hull for and thought of getting out – quick! However we drove into the city, where we found little to improve our opinion until we crossed the A63 (see * below) to find ourselves face to face with ‘The Deep’.

New Art Gallery (2)
The New Art Gallery,  Walsall. Photo: Craig Holmes Photography

That was impressive! I recall it being cited with the New Walsall Art Gallery, as being among the best new buildings in Britain at the time. It had a similar impact on me as the Walsall building, but presented an entirely different image. Both buildings have water fronts, but whereas The Deep’s ship like prow strains out across the water threatening to break free from its footing while you are watching, in Walsall the massive cuboid block of the New Art Gallery has precisely the opposite affect. This monolithic block seems to have been slammed onto the ground in order to block the flow of water where it does, not the other way round. Both buildings seriously impose their presence on their respective environments.

This was mid Sunday morning, and the area around Nelson Street deserted apart from the shoal of skateboarders very happily perfecting their skills on the ramps. (It’s a pity councils don’t scrap some of their inner city scraggly bushed banks, hung with polybags and litter like psychedelic rotten fruit – and replace them with ramps for young people to exercise and demonstrate their amazing agilities.)

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The Deep. Image: Philip Pankhurst

Away from this swarming activity we walk up the ramp to cross the river to The Deep. I peer over the wall – a ferocious brown gushing – a glutinous slurry of mud, swirling thunderously passed me at what seems foot level, spewing in a furious turmoil towards the Humber – There’s energy refill for you!!! even if it’s only a passing moment. That’s it!! My decision is made!! This is where i want to move to now my retirement has started!!. It’s nearer to York than Birmingham and neither i nor my partner liked that over-touristed city, so it was an easy choice to make, especially with house prices the way they were. We loved the expanse of the Humber, the fury of the battling waters, the Hull’s outgoing in its death throes against the mighty upstream push of the Humber’s incoming tide.

* It was crossable 2002. Now its a major barrier for people’s access to the marina and estuary frontage. I now really hope, with little foundation, that with the recent developments in the old commercial Fruit and Vegetable Market area, that Hull receives the funding to allow the A63 to continue at a raised level from Smith and Nephew, passed the Marina to join Myton Bridge. This would allow an unrestricted pedestrian link between the city, the estuary frontage and the developments now taking place in the Humber Street area, as well as creating a valuable open recreational space. It would create a significant tourist attraction for the area and be of real commercial benefit to the city. The single point of access created by the new castle Street Bridge will only be a chink in the barrier which would remain a division between the city and its waterside frontage.

Alternatively, and possibly cheaper, would be to divert the A63 round the North of the city     via the A164 on a route north of Cottingham to join the A1079 south of Dunswell.

One way or the other, i’d love to see the Estuary Frontage open with the City. “

© limping tiger

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