Kingston-upon-Hull, or Hull as it is commonly known, is situated on the North Bank of the River Humber, in Yorkshire England. As Autumn takes hold, leaves drift earthward and rain and wind increase, what is still often called the largest travelling fair in Europe arrives in the city of Hull.
It is noisy, brash and many would say expensive. It has a long history and remains a popular event for locals and visitors to the city.
A LITTLE HULL FAIR HISTORY
"This carnival of merriment is the largest travelling fair in Europe and one of the oldest - the fair celebrated its seven hundredth anniversary in 1993. The first charter granting permission for a fair to be held, from 9 to 23 March, was granted in 1278. The anniversary celebrated by Hull City Council dates from1293, when Edward I allocated six weeks in May and June for the festivities. By the 16th Century the festivities had become a 16-day fair, with 20 September as the start of the annual feast after an additional Charter was granted by Charles II.
As Autumn approaches many locals in the city of Hull look forward to October and the annual fair. If truth be known these days as many locals probably dread this annual event as anticipate it; however it is a tradition that as a child was enthralling.
In the 1950's
When I was young Hull Fair opened on the first Saturday of October and ran until around 11pm the following Saturday. The fair was always closed on a Sunday and local children would mosey around the fairground during the Sunday afternoon, hoping to collect small coins dropped, lost or forgotten by fair-goers.
The fair was the largest travelling fair in England and an amalgamation of many fairs which toured during the summer months meeting up in Hull each October. The fair was, and still is, situated on 'waste ground' on Walton Street, in Kingston-Upon-Hull.
Even back then there was talk of relocating this fair but a move has never materialised to this day. These days the Walton street fairground is used throughout the year for weekly markets and car boot sales. A section of it is used for local buses, as part of the Park and Ride transport scheme in the city.
The bonus is, these days, much of the fairground has been levelled and is tarmac. When we were kids it was mainly cinder paths and the often wet and windy October weather left a muddy, messy area underfoot.
Back in the fifties, and sixties, the fair incorporated stalls such as The Fat Lady, small zoos and other peculiarities. A local eccentric called Roland could be seen outside some of the stalls trying to entice visitors inside. With his walking stick and strange attire he was quite a scary character to children.
The fair was large and had many rides but it is massive now.
The actual street is longwith a park at one end near the fairly new Hull City football ground and it links two of the main roads of the city. This street has stalls selling candy floss, chips, hotdogs, novelty dolls, roast chestnuts and more. These line both sides of the street and the smells and sounds are always as much a part of a visit to the fair as the actual attractions.
There was a time when Spring Bank West, during Fair week, had twinkling lights along it leading to the fair. This helped build a feeling of excitement as you approached the bright lights of Hull Fair. The fairy lights sadly disappeared years ago.
Hull Fair today
These days the fair is brash and noisy, but it always was to those who dd not wear rose-coloured glasses.
The rides are expensive and overly loud music hurts my ears. Still, I assume that older people felt just the same when teenagers, such as myself, hung around the rides whilst the music of The Beatles and The Stones belted out across the fair-ground.
There was a time I would never have missed the fair. I had to visit it at least once each year but as a child I had to visit much more often and usually did, living within a half-hour walk. These days, although I do not live too far from the fair-ground, I do not often visit. All I can see now is expensive, tacky goods and noisy, sometimes foul-mouthed, people.
When I took a friend’s child a few years ago it was shocking to hear younger people swearing appallingly as they toured the fair in the early evening. This means that, even if you visit early evening children may have to suffer abusive language. This behaviour can give the fair an almost threatening feel, which is a shame. A larger police presence has improved some concerns.
Despite some problems the fair remains great fun for youngsters and really anyone who loves Fairs. As a travelling fair the rides are assembled for the week and then taken down, but generally there are no accidents.
Hull Fair now runs a day longer, as it opens on a Friday. The Lord or Lady Mayor of Hull traditionally opens the fair around lunchtime Friday.
The local bus companies operate extended bus services for the duration of the fair and the council provides additional parking spaces. These are in demand as visitors come to the fair from near and far
From late September travellers arrive in Hull and park up their caravans at West Park, which is near to Walton Street. Once the fair is up and running the air is full of smells such as fries and hot dogs. If the wind is blowing in the right direction the noise, smells and chatter of what seems to be a million voices all speaking at once wafts on the air around streets. In our rear garden it can sound as if a million people are all chattering at once.
Local residents sometimes say, “I can smell Hull Fair is on the way” and that “it's Hull Fair weather.” Perhaps smelling Hull Fair is about associating it with the start of Autumn. Hull Fair weather means that it is usually wet and windy but when you are young the fair is fun even in appalling weather. For me these days it is no fun at all in such dire weather conditions.
Thinking of the fair as the time approaches though, brings back memories of my Dad, who died in 1969. He always loved the fair and all the rides. As children he took us on the Big Wheel, the Waltzers and many other stomach churners.
Hull City Council website gives timings of the this annual fair, road closures and more
Note: Dates: 5 October 2018 – 14 Oct 2018
Location: Kingston upon Hull
Location Venue name:
Walton Street Car Park
My hometown, or rather city, Kingston-upon-Hull on the north bank of the River Humber, in the county of Yorkshire, hit the news in November 2013 and for once it was for the right reasons, as the city was named UK City of Culture for 2017.
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Maria Miller, announced that Hull, as it is also called, had beaten Leicester, Swansea Bay and Dundee to win the four yearly title. She said: This is brilliant news for Hull and everyone involved in the bid there. "This year's UK City of Culture, Derry-Londonderry, demonstrates the huge benefits that the title brings. These include encouraging economic growth, inspiring social change and bringing communities together. "It can produce a wonderful mix of inward investment, and civic pride, and I hope Hull's plans will make the most of all that being UK City of Culture can bring."
Will the title make a difference to the city?
Blitzed heavily by Nazi bombers during WWII Hull lost many of its architectural beauties. It also lost some of its squalid, tiny houses but sadly many of those remained for years.
Hull traditionally has high levels of unemployment. The fishing industry was the city's major employer until the Cod Wars between the UK and Iceland during the 1970's. The fishing industry of Hull collapsed. In 2009 the affected fishermen received some compensation from the government but their communities were already lost. It was too little and too late.
Following the global economic downturn of 2008 the caravan industry, which had become a major employer in the city, stumbled. Unemployment rose again.
Dogged at one time by poor housing and drug-related crime Hull now has something to celebrate
The title City of Culture should lead to an upturn in the economics of the city, with predictions of a £60million boost for the city.
What does Hull have to shout about?
For a relatively small city Hull offers visitors a wide-range of museums, a world-renowned art gallery, two theatres, a premier league football team, two rugby teams, modern shopping centres and more.
Sadly like most UK cities and towns it also has many empty shops and run-down parts of town but today we will concentrate on the positives.
Free Museums, yes these are free to visit
Wilberforce House, birthplace of the slavery abolitionist of the same name, combines one of the few 17th Century buildings in Hull with informative displays about the slave trade and its abolition in England. Situated along the old High Street this area of the "old town" gives visitors a glimpse of a bygone era.
Streetlife, Hull's transport museum, the defunct trawler Arctic Corsair and the archaeological museum complete the so-called Museum Quarter of Hull.
Town Docks, Maritime Museum, across town in Victoria Square but only a few minutes walk away, features displays relating to Hull's seafaring past. The building was once the Dock Offices of a vibrant seafaring community.
Queen's Gardens behind the Maritime Museum was once a busy dock. These days it is a green area of flowers, grass and ponds. Concerts during the summer months use the Mick Ronson Memorial stage. Mick was a member of David Bowie's "Spiders from Mars" band along with fellow Hullite Trevor Bolder. Sadly both are deceased.
The Ferens Art Gallery is across the square and houses works of art by Frans Hals, Antonio Canaletto, Stanley Spencer, David Hockney, Helen Chadwick and Gillian Wearin, maritime works of art, modern and old masterpieces. If you are planning a visit check the gallery's program of events.
The Deep is located where the River Hull meets the River Humber at Sammy's Point and although it charges an entrance fee is still worth a visit. This huge Submarium, shaped from the outside like part of a ship's hull suits Hull's history down to the ground.
The New Theatre offers a more traditional programme while Hull Truck Theatre provides more contemporary entertainment. Hull's City Hall is also a venue for comedy and music events.
The KC Stadium home to Hull City FC, or the Tigers, hosts musical events from time to time. Previous shows have included The Who, Sir Elton John and Neil Diamond.
Need I go on?
The above is just a hint of the attractions available.
So was Hull a good choice for City of Culture 2017?
Of course I am biased but, yes I think it was and recognition for this tough city and its people was long overdue. It may be a diamond in the rough but it will rise to the City of Culture challenge.
Note: Famous citizens of Hull include - Tom Courtney-actor, The Housemartins-pop group, Mick Ronson and Trevor Bolder-guitarists in David Bowie's Spiders from Mars, John Alderton-actor, the late Norman Collier-comedian, Maureen Lipman-actress, Phillip Larkin-poet, Andrew Marvell-writer, William Wilberforce-slavery abolitionist and politician, Joe Longthorne-singer, John Prescott-politician and one-time deputy prime minister of the UK, Alan Plater-playwright, Amy Johnson-early aviator, Roland Gift-musician and actor, Andrew Motion, Keith Devlin, Nick Barmby-footballer, Barrie Rutter-actor, Sheila Mercier-actress, Francis Durbridge, Ian Carmichael-actor, Herbert Baker, Brian Rix-comedy actor, David Whitfield singer, Thomas Ferens-philanthropist, Thomas Reckitt-philanthropist and business man and Maria Gilhooley (aka Waterson).
A final obscure fact is that Arthur Lucan, also known as Old Mother Riley is buried in Hull!
(C) Eileen Kersey
Kingston-upon-Hull is almost halfway through its year as City of Culture and Friday one famous local fund-raiser celebrates her 95th birthday.
Jean Bishop aka The Bee Lady cuts a tiny figure as she buzzes around the city raising money for Age UK dressed as a rotund bee.
She is a fund-raiser extraordinaire and Friday a party is being thrown in her honour at the Guildhall, Hull
In 2013 she was awarded the Fundraiser of the Year gong but she has never appeared in the Queen's honours list.
One young Hull resident has created a petition to the current PM Theresa May to try to change that. Ellie writes:
"I'm Ellie Broadley a 13 year old girl from Hull. Since I was little I have always seen the bee lady walking around the streets of Hull raising money for the charity Age UK. This lady is called Jean Bishop she is 94 and so far has raised £110,000 and is aiming for £200,000.
This lady is an inspiration to everyone in Hull. Jean has been awarded a 'Pride of Britain' in 2013 but I believe that she deserves to be on the Queen's Honours List. The bee lady has been in and around the local shopping centre's in Hull forever, since I can remember. She is such a lovely lady and always has a smile on her face.
Most importantly I don't know the outstanding Jean Bishop but I think she should receive the award that she thoroughly deserves.
Sunday 5th February.
On Friday 3rd February, the wonderful Bee Lady came to my school bringing with her, the Hull Daily Mail reporter/photographer and Viking FM (our local radio station). I just thought a photographer was going to come and take a few pictures. But to my surprise, Jean and the reporters all came. When I found out she was coming, I was overwhelmed! Everyone knew except for me.
She is one of the kindest and nicest people I have ever met. When I told her how many people so far had signed the petition (1,300 at the time) she was blown away with the thought of everyone doing it just for her. She said 'I thought things like this only happened to filmstars' and that she 'couldn't believe one person could do such a lovely thing' for her.
They came at dinner time so everyone was watching and as we walked out the doors I told Jean to look up. Everyone was shouting 'Bee Lady' she was so happy to see older children wanting to see her. She thought only little children liked to see her. She smiled and waved at everyone.
In my half-term holidays, Jean has invited me and my family to go for tea and biscuits at her local knitting club which, of course, I will be honoured to attend.
Saturday 4th March.
I went to see Jean and all her friends at her knitting club. They all were so lovely and me and my mum stayed all day. But the local news came, Look North, and filmed us all! Also BBC Radio Humberside came to record me and Jean to play for the next morning. Then at 8:30am the next day, I had to go live on radio and they played the recording.
I wrote a letter to Theresa May too, asking her to help in getting Jean on the Queen's Honour's List. Today I got a reply from Downing Street and they have forwarded it on to the Cabinet Office, who makes all the decisions. I will hopefully here from them soon too.
Monday 17th April.
I haven't got a reply off the Cabinet Office yet I'm still waiting but I have now sent a handwritten letter to the Queen and I am waiting for a reply. Today I have featured in the Hull Daily Mail again to tell people how much this would mean to Jean, and of course how much this would mean to me.
Keep your fingers crossed for Jean, we can do this!
Thanks to everyone supporting this and please keep sharing. Ellie. xx"
Follow this link and sign Ellie's petition here
Bee Lady Updates
Statue of Hull's Bee Lady Jean Bishop unveiled - but it's not what you'll expect
Why Hull's Bee Lady still gets a buzz out of fundraising at the age of 96
City of Culture 2017 Kingston-upon-Hull hosts various events throughout each and every year.
Take the city's Big Bus day and our review from 2015.
"The Big Bus day Hull 2015 was held Saturday September 19. The sun shone and the crowds rolled in. It was a busy old time around the 'Old Town' area of Hull with cafes, pubs and restaurants doing a roaring trade.
The free to enter, council owned and operated, Transport Museum was filled to the rafters when we dropped in around lunchtime Saturday. The amount of people we encountered around the city centre that day indicates it was busier still as the afternoon rolled on.
The best way to share the day is with a few images of ours from in and around the transport museum.
Special mention to the young man with young son both dressed in local bus company's uniform. We were having a dumb day and it took time for us to cotton on when the adult told us the boy was a celebrity-aka Minnie Driver!
It was the first Big Bus Day we have visited but it won't be the last, hopefully.
Bus enthusiasts flocked to the event but it was good fun and a great day out whether buses are your thing or not.
2015 was a bumper year for events in Hull which was a promising start in the run up to the city's year in the spotlight as UK City of Culture 2017.
The bonus in 2015 was most events luckily experienced good weather. Well it is Hull, south Yorkshire and close to the North Sea.
[From the Big Bus Day on Facebook September 21-Thanks to everyone who came to Big Bus Day on Saturday, we had over 7,000 visitors, and raised lots of money for charity! We'll update you on a total later this week when all the donations are collated and counted, and we'll add some pictures of the day to this page later. Thanks to everyone for sharing their photos of the event on this page, love seeing your pictures!]"
Originally written October 2016 Hull Pride is rapidly approaching
"Pride LGBT events feature annually in many UK cities and further afield. But in 2017 the first ever "UK Pride" event will be held and Kingston-upon-Hull which is having its year in the spotlight as the country's City of Culture 2017.
On July 22 Queen's Gardens in the centre of Hull will play host. The venue is not pun intended but a popular city centre area for outdoor events.
A Pride march will be followed by a series of fun-filled events in the "gardens."
There will be a week of events timed to coincide with an important 50-year-anniversary; the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.
But though there was a legal change in 1967 attitudes took a long time to catch up.
There are still hate crimes relating to the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender communities.
Hull should be and hopefully will be proud to welcome the first UK Pride event.
The city staged Hull Pride Summer 2016.
With a range of events on for City of Culture 2017 it is just another one that highlights the diversity of this sometimes troubled but always welcoming northern city.
UK Black Pride
[October 2016 there were reports that pranksters had filled the familiar Queen's Garden's rose garden fountain with washing-up-liquid. The response was mixed with senior councillor Terry Geraghty saying "It's vandalism. We are getting ready now for Christmas and that will be where all the lights are put up again, and this spoils it. It's a lovely part of the city and I don't know what they get out of it. "The rain will wash it away. It's not going to cause any damage. People ought to be more vigilant and report things like this when they happen."]
2018 latest - Pride In Hull, Yorkshire
Radio 1 is staging the big weekend free festival at Burton Constable, near Hull, although in truth it is not quite "free".
The event will take place the weekend of 27 May – 28 May 2017 in the grounds of Burton Constable Hall near Hull and for the city's year as City of Culture the big headline act is Katy Perry. The line-up over the weekend also includes Kings of Leon, Little Mix and Stormzy.
Tickets will be available soon;
Booking opens at 9.10am on Monday 10 April and will be handled by Ticketmaster on behalf of BBC Radio 1.
That highlights the first cost.
The second cost comes by way of transport. Access to the site will only be via park and ride or a shuttle bus at a cost of £13 per person.
And if you use the park and ride service to park your car at one of the areas in Hull you will have to stump up a further £7.50 per car.
Organisers claim the access limits to the site are for safety reasons. There will be no drop off points available at Burton Constable.
For regular theatre and festival goers the costs may be acceptable but for local people who are struggling on a tight budget they are still too high.
But at least this time local people may have a better chance of getting a ticket if they have the cash.
With 50,000 tickets available organisers are still warning tickets are usually oversubscribed and if you want get tickets you will need to act fast.
The advice is go online to get tickets. If you do not have Internet access you can ring 0844 453 9012.
Burton Constable, Skirlaugh, Hull HU11 4LN is worth a visit in its own right. Described online as "East Yorkshire's finest historic day out, proudly supporting Hull City of Culture 2017" check it out.
Posting this reminds me that the last time I visited Burton Constable Hall was many years ago, either in the late 1960s or early 1970s. The headline act was the rock band Free. It was a heady, noisy affair very much of the day. There was almost a tragedy as we were pushed along through a tunnel with police and sniffer digs at one end. Well is was the era of sex and drugs and rock and roll.
It was a great event however.
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