Theres More To The Story – Hull UK City of Culture

It seems like only yesterday we were standing at 8am inside Hull Truck awaiting the big announcement. The city collectively held its breath, and then jumped for joy when we realised we’d got it. Hull was going to be UK City of Culture. Underdogs for most of the way, never really given a chance but with such a massive impact and effort from the city for #HullYes campaign we proved that there really is more to us than some people thought.

Image by Shot By Sodium for Hull 2017

Image by Shot By Sodium for Hull 2017

‘There’s more to the story’ is just one of the tenets underpinning the new branding and logo, for City of Culture 2017. The branding has to be more than just the logo, it has to make a statement and speak directly to who we are. There is more to the story, more to every story, more to every place and every person, here in Hull.

Staying in the maritime world, around that time, the loss of the Sea Shanty Festival was keenly felt, but move the story on and you see that story and passion sustained, not just in the new maritime works being commissioned, but the older ones re-imagined for new audiences.  Not forgetting a band of musicians in the Hillbilly Troupe, who cross genre and boundaries of age and social spectrum, blending punk and folk, with the traditional songs of the sea, to great effect. We are a city that will go to great lengths to preserve our heritage, even if to outsiders Dead Bod looks like a bit of graffiti on a rusty old shed, to Hull folk it represents an example of what communities can do when they fight for something they hold dear.

‘More to the story’ is about an invitation to explore, to dig a little deeper to find for yourself, Hull’s many treasures that lay just beneath the surface.

Take the River Hull, the waterway which has been a major artery for the city, is in fact its very lifeline. The floods in the 13th Century scoured the landscape and altered the course of the river. Up until that time the Archbishop of York levied a tax, against the merchants, on all goods being transported via the waterway. After the flood a dispute about the tax began; the merchants claimed that the River Hull was no longer in use and that a new watercourse was being used to transport the produce. The merchants won their argument, the tax was made void and Hull became a free port.

The River Hull has always been a place of solace for me, it is a place where I go to think, to make big decisions in my life with the ebb and flow of the tide.

There is so much more to every story in Hull. Upon the River Hull stands the Truelove heads by Stefan Gek. These are bronze figures bearing the name of the ship, that brought an Inuit couple from their home in Greenland to Hull in the 19th Century. The name Truelove is not just that of the ship, it also embodies the depth of passion between Uckaluk and Memiadluk the newly-weds. In the spring of 1849 the Truelove and Captain John Parker set sail as promised, to return the young couple to their home in Nyatlick. Sadly as they neared the Orkney Islands there was an outbreak of measles on board, the sickness became a disaster and Uckaluk perished.

With a little imagination – a trait that Hull folk have in spades – this notion of ‘more to the story’ can be applied across boundaries of time and space. It is easy to forget that before the Cod Wars, Hull fishermen were responsible for putting fish on plates across Britain every week. The fishermen were welcomed home with a practice of a hundred pints set out on the bar… now fast forward to 2005, when a small group of ambitious and thirsty writers, decided upon recreating this remarkable custom, much to the amusement of the locals.

There are wonderful, larger than life, stories to be found throughout the city. Picture a parade of elephants marching down Spring Bank, on the way to the river to be washed down. It is all there beneath your feet. The tale is captured through a series of elephant-themed pavement slabs, created by stonemason Saffron Waghorn. Can you find the stone with the glorious scene, of the big bull elephant wedged in the ginger shop doorway?

Hull is like a prism that reflects all colours and creeds and welcomes each and everyone, to contribute to the rich tapestry of life in the city. We have always been a city with a rich culture, a city filled with creativity and a uniqueness, but we are also a city of changing fortunes, as world and events at home, threatened to disrupt our story.

Across class divides, town and gown, inspired by a Hessle Road factory woman communities united to improve safety conditions for our trawler men. This unique and courageous action, undoubtedly saved lives and has changed maritime history for the entire country.

One of our greatest strengths has to be our resilience –  standing firm against tragedy, from the ashes we have shown our character and rebuilt after the blitz, reinvented ourselves after the demise of the fishing industry, re-imagined ourselves as an exciting destination city for the 21st Century.

Around every corner, there is more to uncover, more of the rich character that makes up our story. As we invite you all to celebrate with us our City of Culture, you have the opportunity to add to our unique story: to play a vital role in the vibrant and wonderfully diverse story of Hull.

Nationally theatre is the time-honoured place where one and all pack out the auditorium, to see themselves reflected back, in the stories told by the actors. Hull knows the importance and power of theatre, in telling its stories, learning from the past to inform the generations of the future. The key to the biggest tickets and box office success, is to take those half-remembered stories and make them relate to every person: from Hessle Road to Kirk Ella, from Willerby to Bilton Grange.

An unassuming back room in a pub down an alley, played a part in the great British Folk Revival of the sixties. It is no secret that one of the most important names in folk, the Waterson Family began a folk club called Folk Union One and played traditional songs – songs of stories – to packed crowds, in Ye Old Blue Bell pub in Hull’s old town.

In its own way Hull has continually contributed to the evolution of British culture. A ‘city… on the edge’ Larkin wrote, but of late Hull is a city at the cutting edge: as Hull and the Humber is placed at the heart of the renewable energy sector, The new pioneers and entrepreneurs in digital, are inspired by the likes of Joseph Arthur Rank to reshape Hull, our place in it and Hull’s place in the wider world.

“More to the story” encourages each and everyone of us, to scratch beneath the surface, to dig a little deeper, to ask questions, to understand how we became the proud city of Hull. There’s more to the story for me means, we are so much more than how we appear on the surface, we all play different roles within the city of culture, I’m Michelle, blogger, sometimes performance poet, recently published. I’m Michelle music fan and contemporary dance cheerleader, mentor to young journalists, supporter of performance art, passionate about film and politics. I am Michelle Dee, but there’s more to the story.


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