Hull Museums Quarter

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Things to do


Date of travel

June, 2017

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Hull “Museums Quarter”: is centrally located on the banks of the River Hull in the Old Town and comprises a wide variety of museums.

The “museum”:,631432&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL is in the house where William Wilberforce was born in 1759 and the attractive, red-bricked building had displays in the various rooms. Ground floor rooms, with large fireplaces and wood panelling, told of the house’s history and its transformation into a museum and about the life of Wilberforce. Apparently when he was campaigning to become the MP for Yorkshire in 1784, he spent £8,000 on his campaign (nearly £900,000 today) and roasted an ox to persuade people to vote for him.

The first floor (stairs and lift) focussed on the slave trade which Wilberforce was instrumental in abolishing and which saw thousands of West Africans transported to the British West Indian Islands to work under dreadful conditions on the sugar plantations. ‘Virtual Wilberforce’ displays with their computer-generated images of Wilberforce told us about his efforts whilst other short films recalled the slave trade from the perspectives of slaves, the ships’ captain and the plantation owner – all powerful stories.

On the way out, there was an exhibition of ‘modern slavery’ and how we all can unknowingly contribute by buying cheap foreign goods.

This is a Museum not to be missed and we easily spent just over an hour there.

Unfortunately, the Museums Quarter doesn’t have a café and as the small café opposite the entrance looked busy, we walked a little way up the cobbled High Street to the nearby pub, “The Lion and Key”: for a refreshing drink.

This “museum”:,631492&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL had six galleries and most focused on various forms of transport: bicycles, motorbikes, carriages, motor cars, trams and trains.

In the Carriage Gallery, we were invited to step into the Hull-York Mail Coach. Once shut inside the carriage with its maroon interior and swinging lamp, the coach ‘set off’ and joggled along replicating the experience with the coach driver’s commands to the horses clearly heard. It was quite claustrophobic even with just two of us in the carriage and it was easy to imagine how journeys would leave you feeling queasy.
Putting a £1 into a slot within an old car, again allowed us to experience how the journey would have felt as screens in front of us, took us through country lanes.

The Streetscene Gallery had a reconstruction of shops from the 1930s: a cycle shop, A chemist’s shop from Leeds and a Hull Co-operative shop. In the latter, it was interesting to see that the branding on some goods had changed very little: the blue and white of Nivea and Birds Custard Powder were still recognizable today.

On the first floor, the Joseph Rank Gallery told us about the life of Joseph Rank who was a powerhouse in flour milling and out of the window we could see where his huge Clarence Mills had been. Interestingly there was no mention of his role in the film industry.

There was also a special exhibition by The Fishermen’s Mission which told us through audio visual stories the impact of the fishing industry on both those who went to sea, but also the women left behind. There was a poignant display on 900 knitted fish in a net to represent the 900 Hull trawlers lost at sea between 1835 and 1987 together with the loss of 6,000 men who put their lives as risk to put fish on our plates.

Once again, over an hour had passed but this time, we sought refreshment in a slightly nearer pub, “The Sailmakers Arms”:, where after fortification of wine and cheese and onion pasties we headed back into museum land.

On the river bank is the fishing trawler the “Artic Corsair”:,631133&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL but unfortunately, we were not visiting on a day when one of the public guided tours are available. However, as there was a private tour imminent, we wandered around the visitor centre with its fishing memorabilia.

I particularly liked the display of knitted ganseys (fisherman’s jumpers) where the pattern told you were the fishermen were from. Fishing was obviously a dangerous occupation and there were copies of Hull Daily Mail front pages announcing lost trawlers and deaths. The one I remember most, was the Gaul in 1974 with the loss of 36 lives, in mysterious circumstances.

“Here”:,631546&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL we were greeted with a huge, life-size woolly mammoth before being led through 235 million years of natural history! The displays were informative but there was so much information, and by now we were starting to tire, that we felt it was hard to do it justice.

However, it was fascinating to see how the East Riding had looked during the ice age and despite having lived near to the town of Market Weighton for 30 years, I’d never heard of the ‘Market Weighton Block’ a geological feature I struggled to understand.

A model of a Roman bath house and the discussion between the two romans on how the tiles were a big improvement on slippery wooden beams was a little surreal.

All the museums have free entrance and it’s very easy to spend the whole day in them but I’d recommend starting with the ones that interest you most as you’ll be flagging by the end.

Helen Jackson

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