Colourful new façade lighting aims to showcase one of Hull’s most historic streets, which also lays claim to being the spot where the first sparks of the English Civil War were ignited.
The special illuminations are part of a multi-million-pound regeneration to breathe new life into Whitefriargate, which is home to 33 listed buildings and to the city’s Beverley Gate, where in 1642 King Charles I was refused entry, arguably starting the national conflict.
Four buildings are being lit up each evening for the heritage project to shed new light on the street’s rich architecture and heritage, bathing the late 18th and early 19th century buildings in coloured lighting, which will remain on each evening until 11pm.
Known as the gateway to Hull’s Old Town – with cobbled streets and architecture stretching back to Hull’s medieval past – Whitefriargate has seen a decline in the number of retail units in what was once the city centre’s premier shopping street.
But a home-grown revival, and a boost from extra investment, has injected new life into the street, which is a key pedestrian route between the city centre, Hull Old Town and the popular Museums Quarter.
The new project is the latest initiative as part of the ongoing regeneration and aims to make the street a more attractive and enjoyable place to visit. Among the sites now being seen in a new light is 55 Whitefriargate, a grade two-listed Renaissance Revival building – now home to an indie cocktail bar and award-winning gin school and distillery.
Hidden within the vaults of an old bank, dating back to 1897, The Bar at 55 Whitefriargate, known as Bar55, opened in 2021; while above it, Hotham’s not only make spirits that are sold in the bar and used for its classic cocktails, but also run Gin and Rum Schools in a purpose-built Distilling Room.
The street is also home to the city’s newest arts venue, which opened as part of a new development by Wrecking Ball Music & Books store and café, after it moved from its former site in the city to 15 Whitefriargate, the former Neptune Inn which was opened in 1797.
In another boost, a new cafe, coffee shop and cocktail bar featuring live music and performances, Calla, opened its doors in April, complete with a rooftop terrace bar boasting views of Hull Minster.
And work has also started at a former Burton store at 34-35 Whitefriargate, adjacent to the 14th century Beverley Gate, where a retail or restaurant unit will be created on the ground floor with offices above.
The £2.4 million project at the former store aims to return what is Hull’s most significant art deco building to its 1930s grandeur, restoring the granite façade and windows, and replacing modern shopfronts with new frontages in keeping with the original style and design. The project is expected to be completed towards the end of this year.
For tourism information about Hull, see www.visithull.org