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Take up our quarrel with the foe

27 Mar
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
      In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the “Amen,” ere thy poppy throws
      Around my bed its lulling charities.
                                              John Keats
As cultured folk you’ll be aware how for millennia the poppy has signified sleep and forgetfulness in European culture. From the poppy we get opium, morphine and all those other lovely “ines” that make us fall through a hole in the carpet when life becomes too much… 
Whoah! whoah! stop all this liberal thinking right now! For the Royal (& sycophantic) British Legion, for hosts of hoopleheads and fellow travellers, for the whole UK indeed (or so it seems) and even for level headed Canada or at least those parts that love to dwell on the horrors of the last century the poppy has become The Symbol Of Remembrance. Well ha! So much for culture. This craze started in the 1920’s as a merchandising scam to sell cloth poppies to help ‘rebuild war torn France’ (a likely story) or perhaps it was inspired by that really bad and militaristic poem  “Flanders Field” (which at least had the idea of poppies meaning sleep). Whatever, it’s too late and the genie is out of the proverbial glass container and you can’t tell anyone that this is cultural illiteracy else they look at you as if you have two heads (which I suppose is two more than they have). 
So it comes about that, two years after the celebration (no better word) of the start of WW1, Hull gets a teeny portion of the crazy poppy themed thing that took over the Tower of London.  It’s an unimpressive, tawdry splash of  red down the side of the Maritime Museum. Puts me in mind of a slit throat or perhaps a some overly enthusiastic menstrual flux. Certainly does not inspire any thoughts of ‘remembrance’ despite it being blessed by vicars and cooed over by the hoi polloi (“Oh isn’t it beautiful!” ‘it’, by the way, is supposed to represent the deaths of thousands of men from high explosives, bullets, poison gas and general military incompetence so … well I just give up!) and idiots in WW1 uniforms standing in front of it like dorks!
Still it attracts folks to town to take piccies (guilty as charged) and of course selfies. Oh the name of this thing? … Weeping Window

It’s only money

27 Feb

I’ve shown the Maritime Museum more than enough times but not, I think*, this façade above the entrance. The building was originally the offices of the Hull Dock Company and clearly money was not a problem at that time as we have a goodly supply of classical gods and goddesses adorning what I take to be Queen Victoria with her rhythm stick (I might be wrong) and a fine but somewhat faded plaque with the symbols of the then four countries of the United Kingdom. At the time of building (1870’s) the Hull Dock Company had a monopoly but later competition forced down prices and profits and in hindsight spending £90,000 on Italianate offices may not seem like such a good use of resources. Still it makes for a grand museum.

And while I’m here I’ve just come across a new-to-me blog about Hull. 150 facts about Hull has been going for four years and has reached 89 facts, if you are into things of a Hully nature this may interest you.

* As I write this blog I often get the uneasy feeling that I’m repeating myself. So if any of this seems familiar it probably is. Indeed I may have mentioned this feeling before …

There’s joy in repetition

1 Aug

City Daily Photo’s start of the month theme is “My City’s Skyline“. I’ve done several skyline shots over the years and after looking through my extensive collection I still think this one is the best I’ve taken. Only thing is I posted it about six years ago, ah but you won’t remember that now, will you?

Save our hole!

2 Oct

The perennial question of what to do with the remains of Hull’s Beverley Gate has once again failed to be answered. The Council flush with money (£25 million found behind the back of the sofa) had planned to fill in the hole and then grass it over. So far so good, it has to be the least spectacular historic monument on the planet but nothing is ever so simple in this place…. Having thus erased the past it was planned to put up a humungous piece of pretentious twaddle called Word Gate. To give you a flavour of the nonsense there’s this from the Council web site: “Word Gate conjures up a place at a moment in the past. The place was a gate that said no and stayed closed, a place now beckoning you to come close. Hull speaks through Word gate, a gate between land and sea, between Hull’s heritage and Hull’s future, the City of Culture“. Cutting through this rhubarb what is proposed is a thirty or forty foot high piece of steel with words scratched on it, this will completely dominate the area, block the view down Princes Dock and after a few years will be pulled down after it becomes tarnished, dulled and covered in graffiti. You think I exaggerate take a peek at the nauseating blob in the artist’s drawing below.
Well as I was saying that was the Council’s plan until a petition to save the monument to the start of the English civil war (the English Fort Sumter if you will) gathered a few thousand signatures. The guy in charge now says other plans will be considered. Well when you’re in a hole it’s best to stop digging.

The weekend in black and white is here.

and so it begins

29 Apr

Having been selected as the cultural omphalos for 2017 why not go the whole nine yards and spruce up the town as well with a £25 million rearrangement of the deck chairs? First for  ‘improvement’ is Queen Victoria Square which is to get fountains in the pavement so your trousers get wet as you walk by. Still anything that gets rid of the acres of boring red brick paving can’t be all bad. As in all campaigns you must first fortify your redoubt or the thieving natives will be off with your JCB before you can say City of Culture.

Private Seats

20 Aug

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, before the reinvention of coffee and the banning of smoking indoors, you could take a seat here and rest a while at no expense save to your backside. Now the only seats belong to the self-styled coffee houses that line the quay side selling ridiculous froth at even more ridiculous prices. They are living proof of Say’s Law that there is a buyer for every product no matter how bad. So, with the collusion of the Council, they have had the public seats removed and simply taken over this once public space and now no-one can just sit and rest a while without they pay. The result is this line of ugly glass cages, yet another mess. 

Queen’s Gardens: Back to the Future

18 Jul

I mentioned a few days ago that the collective insanity known as Hull City Council had proposed a series of makeovers for the city centre, at the time I said that I thought they weren’t too bad. Well I think I spoke in haste because on closer examination some of the proposals are borderline bonkers. Take, for example, the proposal to reinstate Queen’s Gardens as it was planned in the 1920’s. Let’s be clear this would be an act of pure vandalism. Queen’s Gardens is now a place of mature trees and tranquil ponds with pleasing fountains. In the 30’s the place looked like a desert with immature trees, boring planted borders and no ponds (see here and here). Is the Council really proposing to remove mature trees and fill in ponds? To top off this lunacy there’s the creamy delish proposal to build a retractable stage over the duck pond at the far end, this is to stage ‘events’ and lies alongside yet another proposed stage to commemorate Mick Ronson, a guitarist with the eminently forgettable Spiders from Mars or so I’m told (this presumably would stage non-events). Very 1920’s I must say! So there you have it, vandalism mixed with tawdry tackiness, about par for HCC.
Queen’s Gardens is one of the few places in Hull that doesn’t need fixing, so kindly leave it alone.

The Weekend in Black and White is here.
Weekend Reflections can be found here.