Hull: Why Hull?
I’ve meant to write a bit about my experience in Hull for a while now – and just never quite got around to it. I think it is about time I stop making excuses – and say a bit about what I think about working in the town that so many people seem to have an opinion about – but few have actually been.
When I told my friends and colleagues in London, not surprisingly maybe, their reaction was usually one of bewilderment. How could I even consider working away from the big smoke? Well… two and a half years later, I’m still in Hull. And although I (still) have my flat in London, and love London for what it has to offer, I can honestly say: Hull has become a very dear second “home”.
In case you are not familiar with Hull, it is about 280km north of London, bang in the middle between London and Edinburgh. Located on the east side of England, it used to be a major fishing port and industrial town in the old days. That was, of course, before the major industrial decline in the North of England- and the end of the traditional fishing industry in the area. This obviously meant a lot of economic hardship for the area: Hull used to be a major port connecting Europe to the industrial heart land of the UK, but most of this is now history. The docks and harbour are just a shadow of their former selves today, and the industry has almost entirely gone. This meant, not surprisingly, a long period of decline. But, at the end of the last decade, heavy investment meant that Hull today is again a significant regional centre, with a lot to offer. One quite remarkable thing about Hull though seems to be that it has never quite managed to shake off the “city in decline” image.
Most people think of Liverpool and Manchester as major regeneration success stories, while Hull has kept its success pretty much quiet. Consequently, many people continue to think of Hull as pretty much the back of nowhere. This perception, while at first pretty annoying, is actually quite a positive thing: it means that Hull is actually a little bit like a “best kept secret”: Plenty of great things, but no where near as overrun or pricey as other towns. I’ll probably go into more details in some future posts, but here are some highlights:
- As I love dining out: There are plenty of restaurants, I guess it is pretty much fair to say, half price (or less) of what you’d expect to pay in London – and getting in without a reservation is usually no problem at all.
- If you don’t want to eat, but love coffee, wine or beer – no problem either. There is plenty to choose from!
- I haven’t been out too much to explore the nightlife of the city – but there is plenty of choice from what I hear. Oh, and in case you are a student – the student union club has been voted best in the country a few times.
- As I’m a great fan of all things arty: There is a great cultural scene in Hull: From theatres to live music, it’s all there. And, if you want to sit comfortably in the first row, you can do so at a fraction of the price of London (£15 at the amazing Hull Truck theatre for best seats in the house…)
- An amazing “hidden secret”: Hull Trains. They whisk you in just two and a half hours to London – direct from Hull. And if you book in advance – the price is just £10. In case you wondered, that is less than a single fare from Brighton to London.
- If you are a friend of all things nature: The East Riding of Yorkshire is just a few minutes away. From cute little villages, small country towns … to coastal walks – it’s all there.
- Finally, the people. Yes, they have a strange accent – but they are amazingly friendly. From people at the university (voted the UK’s friendliest university no less!) to people in the street or on the train: They are really friendly “up here”, rather than stressed as so many people “down south” are.
Over the next few weeks I’ll probably expand on some of these topics and give a few more details as to what to expect if you make it to Hull. But let me just say: It’s worth sometimes to look past preconceptions – and give it a try. Hull really has a lot going for it – and for people working or studying here, it is a pretty amazing place – and a truly well kept secret.
Of course, if you have any “secrets” about Hull… let me know! It would be great to hear what you think of the city 🙂 !