Thursday, 31 January 2013

Water cooler moment

You know there's trouble when they come to take away the water coolers and for this business that trouble is terminal. For today Comet's Business Centre finally closes and the last remaining twenty or so employees lose their jobs. Comet was founded in Hull in 1933 and used to employ nearly 7,000 people nationwide with over 500 in Hull. There's to be an investigation into the insolvency which has left many firms out-of-pocket by millions of pounds. Somebody once said "Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christianity without hell"  maybe so but when a Christian sins he only takes himself down not 7,000 others.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Watergate, how one thing leads to another.

I've walked down Humber Street a number of times but only today noticed this blue plaque; it's right next to that old dry dock that I posted a few weeks back. I suppose they put plaques high up so no-one will steal them still it defeats the purpose if you don't see them at all. Anyhow inspired by a sign to an old rubbish tip I looked up Hull's Watergate and found an old picture/map of Hull by Wenceslas Hollar (1607 -1677). I thought the top bit of the picture would make a good heading for the blog and while I was fiddling with that I changed the background colours as well and before I knew it the blog had a brand new look. If you're interested the Watergate is shown right in the middle of the picture.

Below is the full image, the date is unknown (thanks to Wikimedia Commons).

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

No longer in use

Some moths ago I showed the Maizecor tower an impressive concrete structure which is way off to the left of this picture. When the business started grain would be shipped up the river and offloaded into the large building on the right before crossing over Wincolmlee to the processing plant via this bridge. It's no longer in use as far as I know. Also no longer in use is the Scott Street bridge control building on the left.

Monday, 28 January 2013


If you're familiar with Hull you'll know where this is. If not it doesn't really matter. It's just a piece of Edwardian claptrap celebrating Empire and Majesty and all the crud that goes with it. Fitting then that it sits on top of the public convenience.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Punch Hotel

The Punch was originally built in the 1840's ( see old photo here ) but was demolished and rebuilt in grand style in 1896. The exterior is covered in ceramic tiling to give a highly decorative effect. It sits on the corner of Queen Victoria Square between the Ferens art gallery and Carr Lane's 20th century excrescences. 

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Traffic Lights

OK what can I possibly say about this? In December 1868 the world's first traffic lights came into operation near Westminster Bridge in London. They were gas lit and unfortunately within a month had sprung a leak and blown up resulting in the policeman who was operating them suffering severe burns and, according to some sources, dying from his injuries. Things have moved on a bit and now there must be millions of these devices at junctions all across the world. There's a fair few here at the junction of Holderness Road and Mount Pleasant. There's precious little to say about this junction except that it's oft times busy and the sooner you can get away from it the better. I'm sorry I can't imagine what I was thinking taking such a dull picture and inflicting it on the world. 

If celebrating Australia Day (or Invasion Day if you wish) tickles your fancy then some City Daily Photo bloggers are posting about this here.

Friday, 25 January 2013


Six months ago I posted that this block was due for demolition and it seems that half the job has been done. The remaining buildings are still trading with a pawnbrokers and a kebab shop carrying on as if nothing has happened.When they say they've levelled the site they mean it!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Cornmi ...

For reasons that need not detain you I ended up walking around the wilds of East Hull the other day. It seemed the place was either in the business of closing down or had already achieved that state of economic death. One particular cadaver stood out. At the junction of Mount (un)Pleasant and Holderness Road squats the rotting remains of the Cornmill Hotel. It's neatly embalmed and ready for sale, well good luck with that. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The past is a foreign country

The junction of Spring Bank and Princes Avenue is a fairly busy place at the best of time.The traffic flow is now improved by a new lights but even so tailbacks are a regular feature. Imagine how much worse they would be if the railway that used to run across this junction was still operating and all traffic had to stop to let a train go by. Well that's how it was until 1964 when the trains to Hornsea and Withernsea used to trundle through here stopping at the Botanic Station which was close to the pub on the left. Below an old photo of how it used to be taken from more or less the same place; note the solitary policeman to control affairs. 

There's more information on the old station here which is also the site I borrowed the above picture from.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Stand out from the rest

Hull's expansion at the end of the 19th century led to the development of Spring Bank West. It was formerly known as Derringham Bank and already had the General & Western cemeteries along its northern side. SBW eventually spread out to the far western edges of the city and is now a major commuting route with thousands of vehicles passing along it every day. The houses at the Eastern end are basically  long terraces of late Victorian/Edwardian houses all pretty much the same. About half way down this section of the road this little end terrace house stands out from the crowd with its circular turret surmounted by a fine weather vane. No matter how fine the windows, however, the view from them is the same, the cemetery .... and traffic.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Bleak Midwinter

Taken by Margot K Juby
It's January and it's snowing and there's no real surprise in any of that. Only surprise is that anyone would go out in -5C and get their fingers frozen to take photos. Well it wasn't me, I stayed indoors all warm and snug while someone else did the hard work. I suppose a big 'thank you' to Margot is in order.

More monochrome blogs at The Weekend in Black & White.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Carr Lane

The word 'carr' is derived from old Norse kjarr, meaning swamp, and is a waterlogged wooded terrain, a stage in the transformation of wetland to forest. Carr Lane runs west from Queen Victoria Square and its name is a reminder that Hull was once surrounded by boggy marsh land. What you see here is the main entrance to Princes Quay shopping centre and, to the right, a fine example of 1970's brutalist architecture. Such is the fickle nature of fashion that I can imagine some blogger in the future lamenting its loss. 

Friday, 18 January 2013

Grey skies are gonna clear up .....ain't they?

As I've said before a walk around the city centre these days can be a really depressing experience. There are so many empty shops and the prospect of more to come. It's been a really grim week for job losses. The closures of HMV, Blockbusters (even Gwenap!) and many more mean that nationwide 17,000  jobs have gone or are under threat in the past week with only 2500 jobs created [ 1 ]. Still not to worry the Government, busy spreading sunshine all over the place, tells us that the economy is on the mend and they wouldn't lie to us, would they?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Polar Bear

There is a legend on this ship
That taking down the head he keeps
Displayed above the fruit machine,
At times of need the Polar Bear
Will pass among us with a hat,
And taking the only course open, set sail
For the land of the takeout, that serves after time.
(From Those in Peril, Sean O'Brien The Indoor Park, Bloodaxe 1983)

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be or so the saying goes. The Polar Bear on Spring Bank used to be my watering hole. Five minutes walk from my rather dreadful bedsit I'd spend many hours in here supping the delicious Hull Brewery bitter, encountering, amid the smoke filled fug, some seriously daft people from Hull poets (Margot Virago, red hot from Chicago!) to delivery drivers, separatist feminists and a very strange man who departed for a commune in Angelsey... and not forgetting, as if I could, A.L the stereotypical Glaswegian drunk who would bore on loudly in the snug about Rabbie Burns and the meaning of 'Comin' Thro' the Rye' ("It's aall aboot feckin!") ...and when Martin Bormann (aka the landlord) called 'Time' there was often a bottle of cider to take out to keep the party going.

And then, well, then they had to go and 'do it up'. Take out all the old wooden panelling, remove the snug, rearrange the doors and, peccatum mortale, change the beer. They even sold off the polar bear head that used to be in the back room. They banned Staggering Ken, a man who would drink pints of Barley Wine and sway from side to side but never quite fall over while swearing and muttering abuse. No, it was never the same again. Now I've moved on and  I don't go into pubs any more I just take pictures of them.

You can, if you're interested, read the history of this pub which dates back to about 1850 here (scroll down a bit). Inside they've kept the ceramic semi-circular bar and the domed ceiling under which I played many a game of nine spot dominoes. Thanks to a campaign by CAMRA  the building is now Grade 2 listed.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

From a sedentary position

Whilst sitting on a bench waiting for someone to turn up the other day I decided to take a few lucky shots; just set the timer on,  plonk the camera down on the bench, point it up the street, press the shutter button and see what happens. This was the best of the bunch. We're looking here along Jameson Street. I'd like to thank the guy with the green hat for his perfect timing.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The naughty knicker shop

Pause and sigh at the passing of Gwenap; Britain's (possibly the World's) longest established 'adult' store on Princes Avenue. Gwenap opened in 1903 selling dresses and hats but with the advent of the 70's it specialised in selling titillating underwear and, erm, other items. It was then run, I'm told, by a pair of elderly ladies who would shout, in quavering voices, questions such as "Where are the crotchless panties, dear?". It was famous for it's cheeky messages and signs. When local MP and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was found to be in a relationship with his secretary a sign appeared saying "Politicians Welcome!" Well, times change and fashions as well and the shop is now a boutique but not for much longer, for today it closes. You can, of course, still get your frills  and thrills on-line.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Then and Now

King Edward Street, January 2013
I've been asked to consider how has my photography changed over the life of this blog? Well there are  fewer 'touristy' shots although they still appear from time to time. I think my composition has improved and my pictures are more vibrant. I take far fewer pictures now than I used to (better fewer but better, as somebody once said). I don't worry too much about the photography to be honest, I think that the picture is only half the blog, the writing is often more interesting to me than the image. Anyhow, above a recent photo of some street furniture and below the very first image in the blog. There's a difference but is it an improvement?

This post is part of City Daily Photo's Festival of  the Belly Button, a possibly pointless exercise in navel gazing.

St Stephen's Shopping Mall, April 2010

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Saturday, 12 January 2013

"You has eaten some Hull cheese"

There's been an inn on this site since the late 18th century, this is the former Paragon Hotel now named the Hull Cheese. The Paragon Hotel gave its name to Paragon Street and Hull's Paragon Station. Hull cheese is not made from milk, oh no sir. It's described by a poet in 1622 as "... composed of two simples, mault and water, in one compound, and is cousin-germane to the mightest ale in England". This gave rise to an old saying "You has eaten some Hull cheese" meaning you're drunk. Hull was famous for its brewing of strong ales. The Corporation would send the town's MP a barrel or two when the House was sitting which may explain the actions of Parliament at this time. Peregrine Pelham, M.P., for Hull, in 1640, writing to the Corporation says : - " I am much importuned for Hull ale, both by Lords and Commons, who are willing to further me in anything that concerns your towne. . . .If it please you to send me a tonne of Hull ale, and leave it to my disposeing, it will not be lost," and in another letter he tells them that the Speaker had asked for "some Hull ale." ( 1 )

Scroll forward a few centuries and this Hull Cheese has a troubled reputation. It was the scene of  a drunken brawl a few years back that saw five men jailed and a man in hospital. It was renovated last year so let's hope that's all in the past.

For more monochrome posts go to The Weekend in Black & White.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Grand Buildings

Across the street from yesterday's offering are these three survivors of the planner's ball and chain and Hitler's bombs. To begin with the middle building since that's the oldest; this was once the White House Hotel built in 1891 but the front was built in 1909. It was a Temperance Hotel, strictly no alcohol. To the right another former hotel, the Waverley Hotel built in 1903, this now houses the Masters Bar pub. Off to the left and featuring splendid stepped gables King Albert Chambers built in 1923 (so that's Albert 1st of Belgium). So three buildings with differing styles from the exuberant (over-the-top perhaps) Edwardian red brick and cream of the Waverley, the more restrained temperance hotel and finally the Flemish renaissance revival style of the KAC. Contrast that with the modern, no frills, cheap and nasty box across the street.
All buildings now house businesses and apartments and all three are of course Grade 2 listed.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Bland Buildings

Here, stitched together from several shots, is the inappropriately named Grand Buildings on Jameson Street. This block replaced a building that housed the Hull Daily Mail and a few other shops. That old building wasn't much to look at but it was a lot more attractive than this in my humble opinion (see a picture taken just before demolition here). Tomorrow I'll show some grand buildings that still remain on Jameson Street.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Tannenbaum is deepest red

In town yesterday I came across this. Well now I have no time for superstitions and the follies of Xmas leave me cold but this is just plain wrong. A bright red Xmas tree for heavens sake! And still on display after 12th night well now that's just so much bad luck, donchaknow. But as this is Barclay's they're probably too busy fixing the financial indices to notice.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

One law for them and another law for us

How long do you think this building has been allowed to be like this? 6 months? A year? Two? Nope for over fourteen years this atrocious eyesore and blight to the amenity of the area has stood empty, vandalised and damaged by fire. Strange then that the Council have done nothing to make the owners tidy it up, clear out the weeds and properly board it up. Stranger still that the same Council have pressured a disabled woman whose property is nearby with threats of legal action because she is unable to clear her garden.

This was once Blundell Street Board School opened in 1878. Blundell Street is long gone but the building remains. Twenty-five  or more years ago this building it was a School of Architecture; then it became the University of Humberside Student Union with the fancy name of the Strand (there's a Strand Close nearby). Then that closed in the late nineties and the the fun and games started. The vandals (educated no doubt in Hull's schools) got in and ripped the place apart, there were numerous fires, the back of the building has no roof. Now it's just a festering sore and the people who live nearby have just got put up with it because the Council say "No!" to plans to demolish and build accommodation. One can only hope that one day Hull City Council get what is coming to it.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Silver Street

Here with its seasonal decoration dimly glittering in the late afternoon light is Silver Street. It continues eastwards from Whitefriargate to Lowgate in the distance. It has a mixture of businesses mainly connected with the legal and financial side of life. At each end there are former clearing banks, splendid buildings, that now are taken over with coffee bars and similar. Running off the street is Hepworth's Arcade on the right and a mediaeval passage way to Ye Olde White Hart pub on the left.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

All fur coat and no knickers

Taken by Margot K Juby
A few  years ago, (was it really in 1999?) well any way, before the present bankers induced financial mess, Hull City Council decided to sell off half its stake in the local telephone company, Kingston Communications. The sale gave the council a windfall which was spent on various things including sprucing up the city. Everything got a new coat of paint and where possible some gold paint as well which is why even this rubbish bin has gold trimming. 
I was going to make some clever remark about there being eyes peering out of the bin but you're all too grown up to be taken in by that.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Goodfellowship and a little gripe

The Goodfellowship pub is just along the road from my house so would probably classify as my local were I ever to partake of beverages of an alcoholic nature. As pubs go this is big, verging on enormous with an extension off to the left that's out of shot. It's really not my scene.
It seems to be the norm now to ride your bicycle on the pavement. It's illegal, of course, but nothing is ever done about it. When I was young only little kiddies rode on the pavement and we couldn't wait to grow up and ride on the road like proper grown ups. Needless to say there is a proper marked out cycle lane but, hey, it's not cool to use that.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Who's Next?

Joseph Hepworth set up shop as a tailor with his brother-in-law in Leeds in 1864, twenty-five years later they employed 2000 people who sold their stock through over 100 shops. The firm went on to be the largest UK clothing manufacturer and is now known as Next. This old sign in Hepworth's Arcade possibly dates back to  the 1890's. It's a bit of a puzzle, what is that empty shield in the middle? And was obesity a problem back then that there was a demand for XL tailors?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Old School

At the north-east corner of Kingston Square stands this impressive building. It was once a school belonging to Christ Church which stood where the car park is on the left.  Nikolaus Pevsner in his architectural survey described the building and stated that "it should be saved" and so it was; though now it houses flats and not school children eager to learn.
Below a picture of Christ Church that I 'borrowed' from Hull Council's site. As you can see it was no small affair and came complete with full Gothic revival nonsense. The building, like much of Hull, was a victim of bombing during the war and put out of its misery in the early 60's. The space has since become dedicated to the new god: Car. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Never mind the quality feel the width

Diagonally opposite the New Theatre on Kingston Square this hotel was built in the early 1800s restored in the 1980s and claims to be Hull's leading independent hotel. It's abuts the New Clarence that I posted about a few months back. In my search to find something (ok, anything) interesting to say about in this post I found that this was once the workshop of a Madam Clapham, described in the hotel's rather badly written website  as "Dressmaker and courtier to Royalty and nobility" (sic). I think they meant couturier but who can tell? Emily Clapham made glad rags for the rich and royal from the late 1800's 'til  she died in 1952. She's described as "Hull's Celebrated Dressmaker" though as dressmaking in Hull is something with which I'm  not overly familiar I feel unqualified to comment and will shut up right now ...

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


OK let's get this new year started. No looking back, just onwards and uppards! I've shown this warehouse/apartment block before (here and here) but I thought these reflections in the marina's murky waters were worth an airing.