Ambitious plans to become a world cruise ship destination have taken a step forward as Hull redefines itself as a key city of the North as well as a leading maritime centre.
Building on the success of its year as 2017 UK City of Culture, and as Hull forges ahead with a five-year, multi-million pound project to expand and improve some of the city’s most historic maritime attractions, a planned £73m cruise terminal is also now one step closer.
City councillors have given the go-ahead to engage architect and specialist marine engineer support as an early-stage investment in the proposal for a cruise terminal, earmarked for a site close to award-winning aquarium, The Deep.
With a rich maritime heritage stretching back centuries, the port of Hull is still one of the UK’s leading foreign trading ports for a variety of cargoes, as well as the only passenger port on the Humber Estuary, serving Belgian and Dutch ferry links.
A cruise terminal would add to the current European routes, and bring a potential tourism boost not only to Hull itself, but also the rest of Yorkshire, as well as surrounding counties, including Lincolnshire.
While still very much in the planning stage, designs for the terminal, pontoon and bridge have reached an advanced stage, and a target date for the first operational season of the new facility would be around 2025.
But already work is underway to build on Hull’s maritime heritage and boost the city’s tourism offer, creating new attractions and experiences for visitors set to be revealed over the next three years.
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 create a new route to guide visitors through the city to the River Hull, highlighting its outstanding maritime heritage.
The £30m project involves 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 £12m refurbishment, and is due to re-open in late 2024, while the city’s two historic ships – the Spurn Lightship and the Arctic Corsair, will undergo major restoration before being unveiled as improved visitor attractions.
Expected to return to a new berth in Hull Marina in Spring 2023, the fully restored Spurn Lightship will have new interpretation and displays to tell her story – and for the first time visitors will be able to climb the lantern tower.
More new experiences are due to be unveiled in 2023, when Hull’s historic North End Shipyard – one of Hull’s hidden gems and at the heart of the city’s maritime and trade history which once spanned the world – becomes the new home for The Arctic Corsair. A new two-storey visitor centre, which will become one of the UK’s most energy efficient in the cultural and heritage sector, will tell the story of the trawler – the sole survivor of Hull’s sidewinder trawler fleet – and the heyday of the city’s trawling industry as well as enable visitors to walk right under the ship’s hull.
In the meantime, the city has launched a scheme involving a small team of volunteers delivering a maritime themed guided tour, showcasing Hull’s historic maritime sites around the city centre.
Pilot tours revealing more about Hull’s maritime heritage, and how the maritime project will take shape over the next few years, are being staged every Monday and Wednesday between 2 August – 6 September, with a morning and afternoon slot each day. Following the pilot tours and volunteer training, plans will get underway to deliver further tours in the future.
News of the latest developments follow Visit Hull launching a new campaign to welcome visitors back to the city. The ‘It Must Be Hull’ campaign invites visitors to discover or rediscover Hull, with a major advertising push alongside new content on the Visit Hull website outlining all that the city has to offer
For more details about the Maritime City project, visit https://maritimehull.co.uk
For all other tourism information about Hull, see www.visithull.org
Photo: Hull City Council