Having a Mari-Time Ball, in Hull

Two historic reminders of Hull’s rich maritime heritage are set for facelifts as work continues on the city’s five-year project that will see some of its most historic attractions expanded and improved, creating new visitor attractions.

Making Hull’s 800 years of seafaring history even more of a key part of the city’s tourism offer, the ‘Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City’ project will ultimately create a new route to guide visitors through the city to the River Hull, highlighting its outstanding maritime heritage.

And as the transformation continues, conservation work is helping not only preserve, but also breathe new life into some of the city’s historic and intriguing seafaring artefacts.

Two of the latest to undergo renovation are a rare, 147-year-old flag from Hull’s last whale ship, and one of the UK’s last remaining Time Balls that originally showed the time to ships on the Humber and the River Hull.

Building on Hull’s legacy as the 2017 UK City of Culture, ‘Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City’ is a £30m project that will see the refurbishment and preservation of four historic maritime sites and two historic ships.

Once completed, which is expected to be 2024, Hull will offer visitors a chance to chart a course through the city’s history, exploring its connections and contributions to the UK and the world.

Among new-look attractions will be Hull’s popular Maritime Museum, which closed its doors last year for an £11m refurbishment, while the city’s two historic ships – the Spurn Lightship and The Arctic Corsair, the sole survivor of Hull’s sidewinder trawler fleet – are also currently undergoing major restoration before being unveiled as improved visitor attractions in 2023.

In the meantime, some of Hull’s many seafaring links are being given a new lease of life, including Hull’s Guildhall Time Ball, which dates back to 1915, and is the highest time ball in the UK and the only timepiece of its kind on a municipal building.

Believed to have been the last of its type installed in Britain, restoration work will mean visitors will be able to see the Time Ball in full working order for the first time in a century.

Once operational, which is expected to be this autumn, the Guildhall Time Ball will join a handful of other working examples in the UK, including Greenwich London, Carlton Hill in Edinburgh, two in Kent and one in Brighton.

The work is possible thanks to a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, and as well as visitors being able to able to hear the carillon bells chime and watch the time ball rise and fall, new interpretation will also tell the full story of the timepiece’s history.

Another link to Hull’s maritime heritage being given a new lease of life is The Truelove flag, dating back to 1873, which was on open display in Hull Maritime Museum for four decades.

Now the rare 15ft wide flag of the Hull whaler Truelove is in need of a thorough, yet delicate, cleaning and localised repairs. It will also be mounted on a bespoke aluminium frame for when it returns to the refurbished museum as part of the new exhibition.

The Truelove was a Hull whaler with a long history. Built in Philadelphia in 1764 the ship was used during the American War of Independence (1775-1783), when it was captured by the British. After being strengthened, the Truelove began life as a whale ship in 1784 and made 72 voyages to the Arctic before her last whaling voyage in 1868 as one of only two whalers still sailing out of Hull.

One of its more unusual trips was in 1847, when Captain John Parker brought two Eskimos (Inuit) back to Hull from Greenland. He was shocked by the living conditions of the Inuit, who had no protection from the whalers and suffered from often brutal contact with Europeans.

The couple – Memiadluk and Uckaluk – undertook a journey across the North of England drawing attention to their predicament and raising money to support and strengthen their community. Sadly, Uckaluk died of measles on board their ship on the way home. Today they are remembered in a public sculpture by Stefan Gec (2002) at the mouth of the Hull, close to the Tidal Barrier, while the Maritime Museum also holds a bust of Memiadluk.

For more details about the Maritime City project, visit https://maritimehull.co.uk

For all other tourism information about Hull, see www.visithull.org