Visitors to the city centre cannot have failed to notice the huge tentacles looming large over the Maritime Museum and the talk of a mythical and terrible beast known as the Kraken. During the first week of August monstrous creatures from the deep, have appeared down Whitefriargate, emerging from inside Princes Quay, the lightship on the marina, even seen inside Hepworth’s Arcade. Never one to shy away from a mystery I decided to take a closer look.
I left my home just after one sporting attire that suited the occasion, namely a new blue striped top of the Russian sailor variety, bought from Beasleys earlier in the week, and a bright orange kerchief tied about my neck. I strode purposefully into town for I had heard tell of some live performances happening in the Museum Quarter. I wasted no time in getting to the old town, stopping only to marvel at the purple tentacles breaking through the windows of the old Dock Office Building as I picked up some documents, and a comic book written and drawn by my old friend Gareth Sleightholme. [I’ll look forward to reading that later]
Soon I found myself sat in the third row of a theatre set up under canvas, inside a large marquee and just in time, for the show was just about to start. It was a short yarn written especially for the maritime renaissance, suitable for young deckhands and old timers alike, performed by Theatre on the Edge @hullontheedge. A tale as old as the sea itself, a ship sets sail from Hull heading for the frozen north, a greenhorn on board, a mother waving her son off at the quayside, terrified she won’t ever see him again. On board there’s rumours of sightings of a creature known as the Kraken. I enjoyed the tale and its telling and joined in the hearty applause at the close. One very young audience member sat on a lap directly behind me, shouted out ‘seafarers’ and ‘kraken’ at opportune moments during the show, much to my delight.
I turned around to spy some sea dogs setting up instruments in the sunshine. I immediately recognised Mick McGarry a singer of some renown in these parts, his comrades made up the folk singing group known as Spare Hands. I sat down to listen to ‘Luckiest Sailor’, originally written by Linda Kelly, a song about the shipmate who should have been on board the Kingston Peridot when it was lost, with all hands due to ice build-up in 1968.
There’s another number remembering the terrible loss of the three vessels Kingston Peridot, Ross Cleveland and St. Romanus, an episode that would come to be known as the Triple Trawler Tragedy, and would go on to shape much of Hull’s recent maritime heritage focus. Alongside some songs familiar to me sung and played this afternoon by Spare Hands, are ‘Bury me Down at Cape Kanin’ and ‘Goodbye Old Humber Keel’, both can be found on the recording ‘Dead Bod, Songs of the Humber Waterways’.
My day ended when I was stopped in my tracks by a giant sloth in the middle of the high street. This is Hull after all, and you never quite know what awaits you around the very next corner. I asked local historian and heritage tour guide Paul Schofield to grab a snap of me with the curiously endearing beast… which he kindly did. Perhaps next time I will uncover the secret behind the strange nest of eggs that have suddenly appeared near to the Beverley Gate…
On the comic by illustrator and designer Gareth Sleightholme to you I say bravo sir and enquire as to whether the ship Echidna might once have been named the Nostromo? I very much enjoyed reading ‘The Strange Case of The Very Strange Case’ with the clued-up detecting duo Lily Blades and Joseph Meaux: and I learned a little something along the way, which, is after all the point of these weekends.
The Kraken adventures continue throughout August see website for details https://maritimehull.co.uk/
Images from @HullMaritime Twitter page follow for more news of the #HullKraken