In association with the Remember Me Conference (4-7 April, 2018) we have developed a memorial walking trail around Hull City Centre, which you download and follow.
Our trail document is a downloadable PDF in A3 format (which can also be legibly printed at A4 size). If you have a smartphone, you can also view our trail on Flickr here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/153543725@N06/sets/72157694448652645/map#
Our trail offers a sampling of ten memorial sites around Hull.
This trail offers a self-guided tour of Hull’s historic city centre. There are numerous memorials in Hull, and our guide offers a small selection that we hope will give you a sense of just how omnipresent memorialisation is in our daily lives. We hope it inspires you to think about what we remember and how people engage with memorials.
1 The Cenotaph is located in Paragon Square immediately outside Hull’s Paragon Station, where most visitors first encounter the city. The memorial’s location is explained by its proximity to what was the city’s largest railway station – from where troops embarked during numerous conflicts. Originally erected as a memorial to the men of Hull who died in combat, or due to disease, during the Second Boer War (1899-1902), this site became the home for Hull’s cenotaph after the First World War. Subsequent wars are memorialised on the site – marking different parts of the armed forces not remembered elsewhere in the city. This layering of memorialisation in an established commemorative space is an aspect of memorial practice which has been observed in Britain since prehistoric times. The Cenotaph is the location for the Remembrance Sunday commemorations each year.
2 Queen Victoria Square. Here we find one of two statues in the city dedicated to Queen Victoria. Designed by architect James S Gibson (1861-1951) and sculptor Henry Charles Fehr (1867-1940), it was unveiled by the then Prince of Wales (later to become George V) in 1903. The statue was later elevated to accommodate public toilets below. When Queen Victoria visited Hull in 1854 she was the first monarch to set foot in Hull since 1642 when Charles I was denied entrance to the then town at the Beverley Gate (which is preserved nearby and accessible to the public), precipitating the outbreak of the English Civil War. A less obtrusive monument, found in the pavement outside of the Barclay’s bank, is a bronze marker to the Prudential Building.
The plaque commemorates where people seeking refuge in the former Prudential building’s shelter died in 1941. It was the largest single loss of life in Hull during the blitz. The Prudential building was located on the site where the Barclay’s bank now stands.
3 Queens Gardens. The statue of William Wilberforce, overlooking Queens Gardens was unveiled in 1834. William Wilberforce was one of Hull’s more famed citizens and is widely commemorated for his work towards the abolition of the slave trade. The house where he was born is now a museum, which you can visit nearby. Wilberforce’s memorial statue has become associated with causes other than slavery. Since 2008, Hull has been home to the Freedom Festival, and Queens Gardens, which Wilberforce overlooks, hosted the UK’s first national LGBT Pride celebrations in 2017.
Within the gardens you will find a plaque commemorating Robinson Crusoe, which was funded by public subscription, and unveiled by the Lord Mayor in 1973. The plaque commemorates the fictitious departure point of the protagonist of Daniel Defoe’s 18th century novel from this site. Though a memorial to an entirely fictitious character, it marks the resilience with which Hull residents identified. At the time of the unveiling Hull was in the midst of the Cod Wars, which ultimately saw the end of the trawler fishing industry in Hull.
4 The Guildhall is the headquarters for Hull City Council. Built in 1912, its public spaces display hundreds of memorials to people with a connection to the city and its rich past. Yet like so many spaces the representation within it are not reflective of the modern city. Only nine memorials recall women (three of who were members of the royal family), and no religious minority is represented beyond the Jewish diaspora, despite Hull’s religious diversity as an international port.
5 The Museums Quarter in Hull’s Old Town is a virtual cornucopia of memorials. Here you will find a memorial to Gandhi, which marks the contributions of BAME citizens to the local community. Nearby stands a toad which commemorates the poet Philip Larkin who wrote much of his poetry while serving as a librarian at the University of Hull’s Brynmor Jones Library. The toad located in the gardens is one of 40 toad sculptures which were decorated and sited around the city as part of a trail and festival commemorating the 25th anniversary of Philip Larkin’s death in 2010. The sale of the toads, and an associated festival, raised funds for a commemorative statue of the poet, which now greets passengers arriving by train to Hull’s Paragon railway station.
A small plaque in the tranquillity of the museum gardens commemorates victims of recent road traffic accidents. An annual civic service, led by the Lord Mayor, involves the laying a wreath at this memorial. Whilst makeshift memorials (flowers, cards, etc.) can be found near the scene of some road traffic fatalities across the region, this permanent memorial reflects the changing nature of memorialisation in Hull.
Inside the museums even more memorials await. In the Streetlife Museum we find Street Shrines commemorating citizens of Hull who died serving their country in World War One. Most street shrines fell into decay during the interwar era, but those few now on display were recovered and conserved for the museum. Also within the Streetlife, you will see Mr Castletow’s Chemist shop, relocated from Leeds, where it was the oldest surviving chemist shop at the time of its demolition in the mid-1970s. Mr Castletow was proprietor from 1907 until the 1970s without ever taking a holiday. He passed away in 1974, aged 98. The shopfront therefore serves as a memorial to Mr Castletow, in addition to being a stunning example of Victorian shop frontage. Period shops have also become increasingly useful as a tool for dementia patients as a form of Reminiscence Care or “RemCare”. A community café held on site each month includes working with elderly residents, and shows the diverse ways heritage is being used to deal with twenty first century needs.
Across the way in the Hull and East Riding Archaeological Museum you can see Iron Age burials which offer insights into prehistoric memorialisation strategies.
6 The Truelove. This piece of public art was erected in 2002 to remember an Inuit couple brought to Hull aboard the sailing ship Truelove. One unfortunately died after contracting measles on their journey home. Plaster casts of their heads, made before they left Hull by well-known sculptor W. D. Keyworth have been preserved in the Hull Maritime Museum. They are an important reminder of the racial diversity of Hull – despite public memorials mainly representing white men.
7 Voyage – created by Icelandic artist Steinunn Thorarinsdottir in 2006, Voyage, erected on Hull’s Corporation Pier, is one of a pair of statues. In Steinunn’s own words:
“Voyage is a 2 part memorial, one part in Hull and the other part in the small town of Vík on the south coast of Iceland. Two figures gaze out over the waters between Hull and Vík. The sculpture was unveiled in 2006 to commemorate 1000 years of sea trading between Iceland and Hull. Also in remembrance of the English fishermen who lost their lives on Icelandic shores and those who saved many in the treacherous waters around Iceland.
The figure stands on top of a natural Icelandic basalt stone column which is cut at a 10 degree angle, emphasizing a dynamic feeling of movement and yearning and connecting the angle to The Deep close by. The green bronze of the sculpture also connects to the color of The Deep.
Voyage holds a special meaning for me and is one of my favorite projects. My uncle was a trawler captain in the Hull area and owned a lot of ships that sailed in Icelandic waters from Hull. I studied in England and have family there.
Since the unveiling of the sculpture many things have happened. Incredibly, the bronze figure was stolen from it´s tall column in 2011 and never found. Hull City Council decided to replace the sculpture and luckily we could take a mold of the figure in the sister sculpture in Vík to make a replacement figure. Voyage was re-unveiled in 2012.
My connection to Hull has also deepened even further since the unveiling of Voyage in 2006. I have collaborated with the university on lectures and the sculpture trail last year called CAIRNS on Hull University campus for Hull City of Culture. Also very kindly I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate last year by the university.”
The cultural ties represented by Voyage aim to repair the years of the Cod Wars, during the 1970s, when Iceland excluded UK fishing fleets from harvesting fish in her territorial waters– causing the collapse of the city’s fishing industry.
8 The Hull Royal Naval Memorial. During the three largest military conflicts of the twentieth century – the First World War, Second World War and Falklands War – Hull merchant mariners supported the Royal Navy. Despite the significant numbers who perished their service is often overlooked in memorials to military conflicts. This memorial (from 1999) helps to remedy this amnesia.
9 Sea Trek Statue. Created in 2001 and donated by the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this memorial is a reminder that Hull has been an important point of entry for millions of migrants throughout her past. Most were bound for the United States and Canada, others for the industrial cities of northern Britain, and many turning Hull’s population into a cosmopolitan town. The memorial was inspired by the great grandparents of the sculptor Mark DeGaffenried.
10 Our walking trail concludes in Trinity Square. Here you will find Hull Minster (formerly Holy Trinity Church). It was until recently one of the largest parish churches in England. It contains hundreds of fine memorials to Hull worthies from the past and present – in glass, marble, stone, and metal (including bells). The southern wing includes a memorial marking the damage the church sustained during the aerial bombardment of the First World War. Outside the Minster stands a statue of the Seventeenth Century poet and MP Andrew Marvell, who was educated at the nearby Hull Grammar School (now the Hands on History Museum). This statue has moved more than any other memorial in the city’s past. It returned to the city centre a decade ago.
There are, of course, many more memorials in Hull and the Remember Me team has been mapping some of these, which you can view here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/153543725@N06/sets/72157687202529596/map/
If there is a memorial which you would like to see added to the map, please get in touch with us and we will do our best to get it added to our Flickr map.
This memorial trail was developed by Dr Yvonne Inall, Dr Nicholas Evans, and Prof. Malcolm Lillie as part of the AHRC funded project Remember Me. The Changing Face of Memorialisation. All images © Yvonne Inall, 2017 & 2018. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
We would also like to offer a special thank you to Steinunn Thorarinsdottir for contributing a quote about her sculpture Voyage to this post.