The city of Kingston-upon-Hull, to give its full title, lies in the East Riding of Yorkshire. It sits on the North bank of the tidal Humber Estuary and is home to the Humber Bridge, which connects the city to North Lincolnshire on the river’s South bank via the market town of Barton-on-Humber. Both banks of the river formed the county of Humberside until the Boundary Commission dissolved the unloved county in 1996.
On completion in 1981 the bridge was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world at 2.22km, a title which it held until the completion of the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge in Japan in 1998. The bridge remains an impressive feat of engineering and a significant tourist draw to this day.
The city of around a quarter of a million people has undergone major regeneration in recent years, particularly since it was selected as the UK’s City of Culture in 2017, a year which saw it host a variety of festivals and public events including an opening fireworks display that attracted an audience of around 25,000 people to the city’s waterfront. The event organisers claimed it was “bigger than London’s New Year show.” It also hosted that year’s Turner Prize at the Ferens Gallery as part of the celebrations.
Like most major cities these days, Hull is well served by rail and road. You can hop on a train at King’s Cross and be in the city centre fewer than three hours later. Or travel from Yorkshire’s other great cities in less time than it takes to watch a short movie on Netflix - furthest away is Bradford, about 90 minutes by rail. Other major cities in the North are also easily accessible – Manchester is around two hours away by train.
For those travelling by road from the west, take the M62/A63 straight to the city centre. From the south, the A1 then A15 will bring you into the city via the spectacular Humber Bridge, and from the north, head straight down the A1. If you’re coming from the East, you’re probably on a boat, with ferry connections operating regularly to Rotterdam in Holland (11 hours) and Zeebrugge in Belgium (13 hours). If you’re feeling really energetic, Hull marks the start of several national bike routes.
With terraced houses selling for an average price of £118,155 over the last year, semi-detached properties at £172,444, and detached properties fetching £298,788, Hull remains remarkably affordable (all figures from Rightmove).
The city is very much on the up, however, so it seems reasonable to assume that those averages will start to rise: properties in the Fruit Market cultural quarter, home to the vibrant Humber Street, which was named best street in the UK in the 2017 Academy of Urbanism’s annual awards, range from around £170,000 to £280,000, which is still a bargain for such a prestigious address.
Hull is a remarkably compact city, so great for exploring on foot. Start at the doors of the medieval Minster and walk across Trinity Square and up the gorgeous pastel-hued Georgian terrace that is Prince Street. It’s an easy stroll to Queen Victoria Square, home to Hull City Hall, the Ferens Art Gallery and the Hull Maritime Museum, and the joyous dancing fountains.
Or head in the opposite direction and you’re five minutes from the Marina and the Museums Quarter, which includes Wilberforce House and the Hull and East Riding Museum. A little further afield you’ll find glorious Pearson Park, the first public park in Hull which recently underwent a multi-million-pound restoration, and was much-loved by local boy Philip Larkin during his lifetime. It’s included in a trail encompassing some of the celebrated poet and former Hull University librarian’s favourite places.
Another popular and long-established trail celebrates Hull’s history as a fishing port - the Fish Trail will take you to some of the city’s best-known landmarks including, of course, The Deep, one of the UK’s biggest aquariums and home to over 3,500 fish and other marine life.
At a time when the future of the traditional English pub seems very uncertain, Hull remains spectacularly blessed with them: The Minerva, overlooking the Marina, is cheeringly old school. There are plenty of modern bars, too, plus a handful of smart microbreweries - Atom Brewing Co, alongside Hull Minster, looks cosy and has an intriguing menu, but try the Bricknell Brewery and Gene Pool, too.
The recently refurbished Trinity Market adopts the modern model of communal tables and lots of vibrant food stalls including brilliant burgers and poutine at Shoot the Bull; pizza cones (yes, they’re a thing) at Cone Queen; great value Italian at Alessandro’s, and excellent cake and coffee at Caffeinated.
Nudging up to Trinity Market, the Hepworth Arcade is a little gem and a must for lovers of offbeat independent shops, including the Aladdin’s cave of comedy that is Dinsdale’s joke shop, celebrating 90 years in the business this year, specialist audio suppliers A Fanthorpe, and clothes shop Beasley’s with its offshoot hat shop opposite.
Head to spacious Humber Street too for vintage clothing at the Poorboy Boutique, gorgeous handmade jewellery and some intriguing workshops at Oresome Gallery, and homewares at Plant and Paint.
There’s plenty in town for culture vultures too. Hull Truck Theatre, based at its purpose-built home in the St Stephen’s shopping centre since 2009, remains one of the country’s leading independent theatre companies after five decades at the top, while the city’s New Theatre and City Hall play host to some of the biggest touring musical and theatre productions.
For days out locally, the seaside towns of Scarborough and Bridlington are just a short distance away, as is the historic city of York with its impressive Roman Walls, Viking heritage and nationally renowned racecourse.