I first went to Hull in the mid 1960s to meet my future parents-in-law,
and it felt in many ways like going back in time. Hull seemed very cut off
from the rest of the country, a place few visited, still very much in an
immediate post-war English mode while the rest of the country had moved
Over the next 35 or so years I returned regularly, coming with my wife and later also my sons to stay in Loveridge Avenue several times each year and I got to know the city well, and to appreciate it. After my mother-in-law moved into an old people's home in Willerby and the family house was sold we stayed at the home of an old friend on our visits to Hull until his death a few years ago. His home, West Garth in Newland Park, was one of the finer Arts & Crafts houses in Hull, and it was a loss to the city that he died before his efforts (and considerable expense at bringing it back closer to its original state) to get it listed status were completed.
I started making an extended study of the city of Kingston upon Hull in 1977, when Hull was in the throes of a massive redevelopment, with many inner city areas being bull-dozed and instant slums being created on its outskirts. It was a process I had been active in opposing in Hulme and Moss Side in Manchester in the previous decade, and it pained me to see the same mistakes being repeated here.
Hull is a relatively compact city, and over my visits in the next few years I walked along many if not most of its streets, often with my elder son for company, in a push chair and as he grew older walking around and taking his own pictures. I went out most days I was there, unless the weather was really poor, usually leaving my wife at home with her mother.
Encouraged by the response to my work from other photographers I took to show the curators at the Ferens Art Gallery who were enthusiastic and keen to exhibit it, and in 1983 more than 140 pictures from the project were shown on the top floor of the gallery under the title 'Still Occupied - A View of Hull'.
This web site includes most if not all of the black and white pictures from that show, but is in many ways different. It has none of the thirty or forty colour images, and when I came to first publish a book of this work in 2010 I added a significant amount of work from the two years after that show; 1985 seemed a suitable date to end the book, then twenty five years in the past. Now I intend the site to grow and include work from later years - currently up to 2017 - as well as including images for which there was not enough space in show or book. It remains a very personal and selective view of the city. Perhaps later I will also include some of the colour images I made - and possibly produce another book on the work after 1985.
Many of the early negatives from this project are now in very poor condition, mainly because of attack by insects feeding on the gelatine, and some of the images needed extensive retouching. The work is arranged in chapters corresponding to areas of Hull, although these are not precisely defined, and some clearly overlap. It is difficult to pinpoint precisely the locations of a few images, particularly in areas which were undergoing demolition.
Two final sections are of work from outside the city, one covering the Humber Ferry, the bridge and New Holland, and the final short section looks at another Yorkshire port, Goole.
Throughout 2017, Hull's year as UK City of Culture I added an image each day to the site and posted these on Facebook with short comments. I hope when time allows to add these comments - and others - to the site.
Still Occupied 1977-85
A book including many of these pictures is still available
on Blurb and you can preview it there.
The chapter headings from the book are used as sections for this site.
Pictures in the West and North Hull section are further subdivided into Hessle Rd, Argyle St, Springbank and Beverley Rd areas as follows:
- Hessle Rd - south of Anlaby Rd but north of the Western Docks;
- Argyle St - Anlaby Rd to south of Springbank/Springbank West;
- Springbank - from Springbank/Springbank West west of Beverley Rd
- Beverly Rd - Beverley Rd and eastwards roughly to Barmston Drain and Bridlington Avenue (West Hull to the east of this in River Hull section)