Museums and Art Gallery of Kingston Upon Hull, birthplace of William Wilberforce

Old Map of the High Street Hull

Why create this hub?

Reading Wanderlust's excellent hub about must see museums in America set the old creative juices going. The 2001 census in the UK revealed that the population of Kingston-Upon-Hull, or Hull as it is more commonly known, is 253,400. This, my hometown has had its fair share of problems over the years and has, in the past, been voted one of the worst places to live in England. Its population is decreasing as many people move away, usually South, where the economic climate is more favourable.

Yet this relatively small City has always had a good stock of museums and galleries. Most of these are owned and run by the local council and this means that they are free to visit. Hull has developed a Museum Quarter in the Old Town which means many attractions are close by one another. More recent developments have entrance fees and are privately owned but overall Hull Museums and Galleries offer a wealth of interest, which is free to visit and therefore useful for those visiting on a tight budget.

This hub will try to give you a taste of what is on offer. If you find yourself in Yorkshire why not stop by and take a look. It may be that you cross the Humber via the bridge on your way to Leeds, for example. Instead of by passing Hull make a detour and see what is here. For those holidaying in Yorkshire Hull is only 7 miles from the market town of Beverly and 34 miles from historic York.

So I will not concentrate on the negatives Hull has experienced, such as the 2007 Floods, the damage it endured during the blitz of the second world war or the loss of its fishing fleets and associated jobs but rather celebrate its culture, which can be found in these fine museums.

Wilberforce House

Its not just my camera that's leaning. This 17th Century building is a little wobbly these days
Its not just my camera that's leaning. This 17th Century building is a little wobbly these days
Huge, atmospheric oil painting, displayed on the stairs of Wilberforce House, showing slavers
Huge, atmospheric oil painting, displayed on the stairs of Wilberforce House, showing slavers
Modern anti-slavery display over beautiful old fireplace
Modern anti-slavery display over beautiful old fireplace

Wilberforce House

Wilberforce House is to be found along the High Street in the Old Town of Hull. Much of Hull's finest building were lost in the blitz but pockets of them have survived. The High Street boasts some fine old buildings and pubs, such as Ye Old Black Boy. A fitting name for a pub situated so close to Wilberforce House the birthplace of England's most famous slavery abolitionist.

The house has undergone various renovations over the years and the most recent has been controversial. In the old panelled rooms there are now interactive screens and the like which tell the story of slavery, William Wilberforce and the fight to change the law regarding slavery. However the most recent changes have taken away some of the character of the house. These displays could have been displayed more fittingly in an adjoining exhibition room and the history of the house left in tact.

The previous alterations saw displays pf replica slave ships with full size models of slaves on board. This was a very moving display, and the sound effects and commentary created a great atmosphere.

However Wilberforce House is still definitely worth a visit and can be found at:-

The High Street, Hull

Opening times are:-

Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
Sunday 1.30pm to 4.30pm
Last admission is 15 minutes before closing.

Entrance is free.

Nelson Mandela Gardens at the side of the house are a great place to have a picnic lunch. The gardens at the back of the house lead down to the River Hull where it is possible to walk along the old walkway.


The Arctic Corsiar

My visit

The front of the museum with the Fishing Heritage on the right
The front of the museum with the Fishing Heritage on the right
Old local tram
Old local tram
Old railway crossing and signal box
Old railway crossing and signal box
Walking up to the old street
Walking up to the old street

Arctic Corsair

It is fitting I suppose that the floating museum the Arctic Corsair is moored on the River Hull, just at the back of Wilberforce House. This once active trawler was no longer needed with the loss of Hull's Fishing trade. However, rather than just scrap it, the Arctic Corsair became a museum manned by volunteers who are ex seamen. To visit you will need to book in advance at:-

The Fishing Heritage Museum next to the Hull and East Riding Museum. A short film is shown pre your visit.

It is usually open from Sunday 22 March 2009 to October 2009

General public tours
Wednesday 10am - 4.30pm
Last tour starts at 3pm

Saturday 10am - 4.30pm
Last tour starts at 3pm

Sunday 1.30pm - 4.30pm
Last tour starts at 3pm

Streetlife

The old Transport Museum was situated further along the High Street, when I was a child, in a magnificent old building. As part of Hull City Council's revamp of the Museums a new purpose built building was constructed. This opened in phases but is complete these days.

I used to love the old transport museum but find that this new place is very fitting and a great place to visit. It is well laid out and has old trolley buses, trams, trains, carriages, cars, small planes and more. There is an old reconstructed street which has many peculiar items on display, in the shop windows, which were all on sale when I was young. One old shop was taken lock stock and barrel into the museums.

The difference to the old Transport Museum of my childhood is that most of the displays in the new Street life are interactive. Children, or adults, can climb on board the old vehicles and signal box which makes for a more interesting and memorable visit.

Adjacent to the Wilberforce House Gardens, Street-life is easy to access and a fun place to visit, for all ages. For those less mobile there is a lift for viewing the upper floors.

Check out the opening times at:-

Street-life Museum of Transport
36 High Street
Hull
HU1 1NQ
England

Tel:-01482 613 902 / Fax 01482 613 710

Town Docks

Town Docks Museum
Town Docks Museum
Beginning of Queens Gardens behind Town Docks. The building is BBC house where the local TV is transmitted from
Beginning of Queens Gardens behind Town Docks. The building is BBC house where the local TV is transmitted from
Old photo showing the docks and the original site of the William Wilberforce Statue
Old photo showing the docks and the original site of the William Wilberforce Statue
William Wilberforce Statue in front of Hull College
William Wilberforce Statue in front of Hull College

Town Docks or the Maritime Museum

Hulls Maritime Museum used to be situated along Hessle Road near Pickering Park. In 1974 the contents of this museum moved to the old Dock Offices in the Centre of Hull. These offices had been next to an old dock but with the changing times the Dock was filled in and became the Queen's Gardens. Princes Dock across the road was left rotting for years until a large glass and metal shopping centre was constructed over it. Nearby on Monument Bridge there was a statue of William Wilberforce which was a local landmark. This was moved in 1935 due to the increase in traffic around Victoria Square and is still in its new location. It is along Queen's Gardens and next to the College.

Town Docks was perfect for Hull's Maritime Museum. It is a beautiful building with many rooms just right for the displays. There are some static displays but this museum does have a full programme of different events throughout the years and some temporary exhibitions.

Much of Hull's previous wealth and fortune was made from fishing and whaling. The city has fine artifacts which at least these days everyone can view. The old museum had some old whale bones outside but Town Docks has these on show indoors.

The Town Docks Maritime Museum is:-

Free

Opens Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
Sunday 1.30pm to 4.30pm
Last admission is 15 minutes before closing.

There is a museum shop which sells a good selection of prints, cards and the like. You can also pick up a huge selection of information leaflets about other local attractions.

The Ferens

Canaletto
Canaletto
Frans Hals
Frans Hals
Part of the Upper galleries
Part of the Upper galleries
One of the main large galleries
One of the main large galleries
The outside of the Ferens
The outside of the Ferens

Ferens Art Gallery Hull

Ferens Art Gallery or as it more usually called, The Ferens, is situated just across the pedestrianised square from the Town Docks Museum. Victoria Square used to be a very busy area of town but with the pedestrianisation it is now less busy. Victoria Square has a fine statue of Queen Victoria sitting in the middle, but, unfortunately, it is only over the Cty centre public toilets.

The Ferens is world famous and has a good reputation. It underwent changes in recent years and had a large extension added on to the main building, around the time that Princes Quay was being developed.

The Ferens has permanent displays of past masters and modern geniuses as well as those that just baffle the beholder. Frans Hals and Canaletto are amongst the permanent displays as are many maritime artists. The temporary exhibitions have shown artists such as Picasso and Salvador Dali.

The gallery has installations at times and interactive exhibitions. There is always a full programme of "hands on" workshops for children during the school holidays. The centre-court downstairs has seen some strange exhibitions over the years. One that springs to mind was a completely wrecked car that was hung from its rear end and dangled over the Gallery. It was an exhibition detailing fragility and our mortality. Well I think it was.

The Ferens has had its fare share of controversy over the years and has never shied away from showing exhibits that are a little off the wall or contentious. One such exhibition never saw such a massive amount of visitors visit the gallery before as when the national press condemned it and at one stage the police threatened to close the gallery.

With cool marble and wood floors, roman chairs to sit on, and contemplate the art work, the Ferens is a great place to chill and relax on a hot day.

Admission to the Ferens, including the Children's Gallery, is free.

The gallery is open -
Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm
Llast admission at 4.45pm

Sunday 1.30pm - 4.30pm
Last admission at 4.15pm.

The Ferens is open on Easter Monday, May Day bank holiday, spring bank holiday and summer bank holiday.

There is lift access for those with mobility issues.

There is also a popular cafe that is usually bustling with activity.

The address is:-

Ferens Art Gallery
Queen Victoria Square
Kingston upon Hull
HU1 3RA

The Deep lit up at night. Looks better as during the day the brown, muddy Humber looks uninviting
The Deep lit up at night. Looks better as during the day the brown, muddy Humber looks uninviting
Watching a display
Watching a display
Jaw
Jaw

The Deep

The Deep is one of Hull's latest attractions. It is a huge submarium situated near to the River Humber. You can easily walk to it from Hull's Museum Quarter or there is a local bus service.

This place is not owned by the council and charges an entrance fee. It may seem quite pricey but it is well worth visiting. It is set out over many floors and if you are into fish, fishing or simply the waters of the world it is a must to visit. Concessions are available.

It is easy to spend a half a day or more in here so make sure that you visit early in the day.

Princes Dock Street
Hull, HU1 2JX, United Kingdom
Tel +44 1482 381 000

It is possible to book part of The Deep for conferences and as an unusal place to get married.

One famous Hull citizen but there are many

Dear Tom
Dear Tom

Tom Courtenay

 

Additional information

Hull also has The Spurn Lightship which is a floating museum located in the Marina. Although the visit here may be brief it is interesting. Children tend to love clambering all over this old vessel which worked hard at Spurnalong the Humber for many years.

I have not detailed the Hull and East Riding Museum in this hub as I have not visited this building, since it was the old transport museum. With dinosaur bones and bronze age treasures children should love this museum though.

ADVICE

  • Do not turn up at any of the museums just as they are closing. It is impossible to do a museum or gallery justice in a few minutes. Most have last entry times these days and you will probably be turned away anyway.
  • Invest in a map of the area so that you can work out which are best to visit together due to their close proximity.
  • Avoid busy times like school holidays, bank holidays and weekends unless you have no choice.
  • Many school parties take organised trips around Hull museums so check this out if possible in order to avoid the bustle of excited children.


Ferens Art Gallery on YouTube

Comments 17 comments

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 4 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks Tony. Yes in school hols all the museums are bedlam lol


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 4 years ago from Yorkshire

hi

I like HUll, I used to be a corn merchant and used to come over to a company down near the bridge and mariner called Bucktons, they also were corn people.

I've visited the deep which I was slightly disapointed with, but we went during the school holidays and it was bedlam, but what a nice setting.

cheers Tony


kate 5 years ago

I was born and raised in Hull,as a child I lived through the WWII bombings and watched much of the city centre disappear under the onslaught.

I moved away when I was 18, and now live in Australia, but until my family there died I out I was a regular visitor. It has been 22 years since my last visit but I remember the city with affection especially the parks, the museums, Ferens Art Gallery, and Whitefriargate, where I learned to appreciate the Georgian architecture [ look up, above the shop fronts for a glimpse of old Hull.]

Thank you for sharing your hub pages with us - I still enjoy wandering through Old Hull online.

Kate


cressinia profile image

cressinia 5 years ago

Agree with your opinion on the Ferens - boxes well above its weight so to speak. Two more things worth doing/visiting in Hull, the Plotting Parlour at Ye Olde White Harte pub (very atmospheric), and the Fish Trail - maps from the Tourist Info office (a great walking tour following the fish sculptures).


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks Wayne. We are lucky I guess to have all these, and with free admittance :)


waynet profile image

waynet 6 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

Great hubpage, have visited all of them places at some point. The Ferens Art Gallery is ace, because I often go in there and just sit and think or do some quick sketching, at one point I had a small exhibition in there, it was a collection of 4 college students work and my corner with artwork was the ray of light or something to that effect and I painted and sketched different beams of light onto a few canvases.

And yeah, there have been strange exhibitions in there with yoghurt pots on strings painted green to represent something arty....

Great hubpage!


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Yes Kiwi. Hull, Yorkshire, England has many problems but it keeps trying to improve itself. Museums and galleries are never in short supply here.


kiwi91 profile image

kiwi91 6 years ago from USA

It looks like there are some beautiful museums and paintings in Kingston Upon Hull. We have a town here in Massachusetts called Hull, which I believe was named after Hull, England (though that's a different city, right?).


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Do try to Mom. We are very under-rated :)


AllMomNeeds2know profile image

AllMomNeeds2know 7 years ago

looks like some interesting places to visit. I'll have to go next time I'm in the UK in your area.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks for stopping by James and Amanda It is a small world isn't it. I worked at Wilbeforce House for a couple of years and so learned quite a bit about this great guy. Of course as children my Dad would take us to this museum and so for Hull children back then he was just someone you grew up learning about.

Amanda perhaps you should mention your missing side of the family at hub pages and perhaps someone will contact you. Maybe even a hub? That would be fascinating.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

Hi Ethel, my Dad had two elderly great aunts living in Hull, and I remember that he had a tape recording of the two of them discussing their childhood in Shanghai, where their father was a missionary. I've often wondered what became of them, as the contact with that side of the family has been lost over time. One day I must get up to Hull and check it out. It certainly sounds like a fine city with plenty to offer those who love history and art.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

William Wilberforce is one of my favorite people in all of history. My friend, Eric Metaxas, wrote a biography of him just last year. And I have met the people who made the feature film about him; and the people who made the recent biography of him.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks Peggy. You will have to let me know if you do :)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

What an absolutely wealth of great museums you have in your town! And most are free to enjoy...also amazing! Thanks for sharing this information and great photos with us. If I ever get to your part of the world, you can be sure that I will take in some of these sights.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks Wanderlust. Yes we do some things OK in Hull lol. My hub had a lot of typos which I was unable to edit but hopefully they are alright now. I enjoyed your museum hub.


Wanderlust profile image

Wanderlust 7 years ago from New York City

Thank you for introducing to your nice English town. I love England, but I’ve never been to this part of the country and one day l would love to explore England more. It is absolutely incredible that being such a small town, Kingston-Upon-Hull has that many museums and cultural attractions. Transportation museum looks very interesting, and submarium looks like a lot of fun !

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