Kingston-upon-Hull, known commonly as Hull, in East Yorkshire is one of the foremost port cities in the United Kingdom. This city stands as a beacon of hope, celebrating the abolition of the slave trade and the work of William Wilberforce.
On This Page
Part of a series on
The Northern Powerhouse
Kingston-upon-Hull is a unitary authority and falls within the historic county of Yorkshire in northeastern England. It is situated on the River Humber estuary where it crosses the River Hull, only 22 miles from the North Sea.
Hull is the birthplace of William Wilberforce, the emancipator. He was a politician and philanthropist who lived from August 1759 to July 1833. Dedicated to the abolishment of the slave trade, he also fought to emancipate slaves in British colonies.
The opening of the Humber Bridge in 1981 enabled regional and cultural expansion south of the Humber. Humber Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the United Kingdom.
Hull functioned as the main seaport for shipping on the waterways of the River Humber. Today Hull is a major international seaport serving Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, and the East Midlands.
During World War II, Hull was the target of extensive German bombing raids, and much of the city centre was destroyed. This was due to the city being easily accessible from the European mainland and situated on a major estuary.
The vast majority of houses were damaged or destroyed during the bombing in the Second World War, leaving Hull the most severely bombed British city after London. After the war, most of the city was rebuilt and industry shifted to deep-sea trawling.
One of the most important landmarks in all of the city is the River Hull. The city revolves around the river, and it is one of the main reasons for the city’s existence today. However, there are plenty of landmarks in and around Hull city centre for visitors and locals to explore:
The Deep is an enormous aquarium and research facility for the marine environment and ecosystems. It’s located where the River Hull meets the Humber Estuary. With both exotic marine life and common regional specimens calling this aquarium home, it boasts rare and intimate views and rarely-seen places and ecosystems.
Exhibitions and educational programmes make The Deep an interactive experience with a hands-on approach to conservation. Snakes and critters are on display at the aquarium, all living in harmony with one another. The Deep has the deepest viewing tunnel in Europe, where visitors can see everything from a gentle axolotl to piranhas and sharks.
In East Riding of Yorkshire, the Humber Bridge is a single-span road suspension bridge that crosses the north bank of the River Humber, overlooking the Humber Estuary and all of Kingston-upon-Hull.
Located in the city centre, the Queen’s Gardens are a sequence of gardens, all aligned and surrounding the Wilberforce Monument.
Atop a 32-metre high column, a statue of William Wilberforce overlooks Hull, a celebration of the abolitionist and all the work he did to protect and emancipate slaves.
A combination of contemporary art with paintings by the Old Masters and medieval sculptures, the Ferens Art Gallery has a wide variety of exhibits. The gallery offers a focussed look at the evolution of portraiture in Britain over the centuries. This is one of nine galleries that comprise the Hull City Council Museums.
800 years of maritime history are on display at this museum, celebrating the key aspects of Hull and how the town evolved from a busy port to a bustling city.
This museum takes closer look at the Arctic whaling industry and the effects it had on the development of the city, and showcases artefacts from expeditions and long-forgotten sailors. It looks at maritime trade and the North Sea fishing industry; the focus on what brought Hull to life is explored and celebrated in this facility.
A premier park in North-eastern England, this is Hull’s largest park and animal education centre. It includes a water park, library, rowing boats, and much more. The miniature zoo hosts exotic animals alongside domestic and farm animals. See anything from a wallaby to an alpaca while learning about the animals.
Opportunities at East Park are unlimited, with facilities for model boats and small sailing boats to take advantage of the city’s proximity to the water and the park’s location on the east bank.
In the Museum Quarter of Hull, the Streetlife Museum pays homage to the transport systems of centuries long past. Six galleries give insight into bicycles, carriages, motorcars, railways, and street life through the years in Northern England.
Nestled between Wilberforce House and the Hull and East Riding Museum, the exhibitions include rare cars and a realistic reconstruction of one of the city’s most important roads in the city centre. Experience a carriage ride or explore the inside of a tram at the Streetlife Museum, where 200 years of transport are explained and recreated for visitors.
In this fine country house, 30 rooms are packed to the brim with fine art, furniture, and surprises from the house’s 500-year history.
The birthplace of William Wilberforce, Wilberforce House is a house museum that recognises the importance of its namesake and shows how he grew up. Visitors can also learn about his story, his impact on history, and how we see that today.
The ornate décor makes the inside of this old merchant’s house a spectacle to modern viewers, with intricate designs and art adorning nearly every part of the construction.
This was the first museum in Britain dedicated to studying slavery and abolitionism, in celebration of Wilberforce and his work seeking social reform. Journals and other personal effects, including original clothing, from Wilberforce give unprecedented access to the life of this politician. There are many other artefacts linked to slavery and the movement to end it.
This medieval church was built around 1285 and it has more than 700 years of history within its walls. Tours of the ground are available for those who do not wish to go and worship there, and these tours range between historical and architectural.
Climbing the 180 steps to the top of the bell tower allows visitors to witness the ringing of the bells as well as see the clock mechanism in action. From the top of the stairs, take in the extensive views of England’s north-eastern countryside and the skyline of Kingston-Upon-Hull.
The Hull New Theatre or Hull City Hall in Queen Victoria Square is one of the most popular theatres in the city. The hall welcomes a variety of performances to the stage, from live music of any genre to the walking at the graduation from the University of Hull. The hall also houses the main tourist information centre on the ground floor.
During WWII, when Hull came under heavy fire during the Blitz, the City Hall suffered bomb damage, and its organ was badly affected. Rebuilding and renovation efforts saved the building, and the organ was restored to its former glory.
An Iron Age village, a Roman bathhouse, and Viking artefacts beckon from within this museum. With a deep dive into the Middle Ages through reconstructions of rooms with snapshots of daily life in the period, the Hull and East Riding museum immerses visitors in the medieval. Exhibits include:
Fossils and Early Animals – A giant woolly mammoth welcomes visitors to this exhibition. With the rare opportunity to touch and interact with fossils and other rarities, the museum encourages a hands-on approach to learning and discovering the past.
Prehistoric Man – A female gatherer dressed in prehistoric garb stands among pottery, wood carvings, stone tools, and metal products. These were largely collected by archaeologist John Robert Mortimer.
Celtic Worlds – A reconstruction of an Iron Age village where residents speak an ancient language that requires a translation from the staff. The exhibition truly immerses visitors in this ancient time and draws them to experience life on the street during the Iron Age.
Boat Lab – The Hasholme Longboat is a 13-metre long, 1.4-metre wide boat carved from an oak tree, built in 300 BC.
Roman World (AD 43–410) – Original mosaics line the Roman World exhibit, where an old Roman bath house with a life-sized bather show visitors a snapshot of life in Roman times. A realistic shop, office, and workshop show what life was like for an average citizen during this time.
The exhibit is lauded as the best Roman mosaic collection in Britain. It also shows the history of Kingston-Upon-Hull in an entirely new light, showing how humans evolved and adapted to changing times and the progression and development that came with industrialisation.
Hull is governed by a single tier of local government referred to as a ‘unitary authority’. Hull has a single local government, functioning independently of county councils in the area. The Hull City Council is responsible for all the functions of local government.
The population of Hull was approximately 322,000 as of 2021. Getting around Hull is possible with the help of buses operating in the city centre, particularly for the vast number of students that call the area home.
Getting to and from the old town might be slightly more challenging, but buses and cabs run throughout the year to get tourists and locals alike from East Hull to West Hull without any issues.
Snow is not very common in this coastal city, but rain is inevitable. With cold, windy, wet winters, the summers are short and do not have the high temperatures that other English boroughs see.
With temperatures warming up, spring ranges from 10°C to 15°C over the months from March to May. Hull has an average rainfall of 10 days, 38mm to 48mm each month.
18°C, 21°C, and 20°C are the average temperatures throughout June, July, and August. During summer, there are usually approximately 8 days of rain, between 48mm and 61mm monthly.
As with most places in the UK, the temperate drop between September and November is drastic. September starts with a warm 17°C and 8 days of rain, but by the time November arrives, the average temperature drops to 10°C and the expected rain is up to 55mm to 65mm, or 11 days in the month.
If you love spending Christmas by the fire, Hull is a good place to be for winter, with average temperatures of 7°C and an average of 10 days of rain monthly over winter. 59mm, 65mm, and 50mm of precipitation is the average for each month of the season, respectively.
The city of Hull has 71 primary schools and 14 secondary schools. There are a large number of highly rated schools in and around Kingston-upon-Hull, receiving Outstanding Inspection Ratings from Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education).
The college of art is multidisciplinary, offering subjects on all of the following topics:
Art History and Digital Cultures
Heritage Media and Cultural Studies
PR and Marketing
Museum, Gallery, and Heritage Studies
As the 14th oldest university in England, the University of Hull was established in 1927. The establishment got a reputation for being a friendly university, one of the main drawing points for prospective students.
Originally known as University College Hull, today, the University of Hull operates as a public research university and offers an exceptional range of courses, from Accounting to Zoology.
Hull College is formerly known as the College of Technology. The college offers technical skills programmes, apprenticeships, higher skills, and graduate studies. The focus at Hull College is to train prospective students to be able to pursue careers, not simply stack up credits from courses.
Some popular sports venues in Hull include the Hull Arena – an Olympic-size ice rink featuring ice skating, figure skating, and ice hockey and the Beverley Road Baths and Albert Avenue Pools for gym and fitness training and swimming.
Costello Stadium offers a cardiovascular and resistance fitness suite, an eight-lane, floodlit athletics track, an indoor sports hall, four floodlit tennis courts, a fitness studio, and conference facilities. Sutton Park Golf Course is another popular venue, sporting an 18-hole, par 72 golf course.
There is also Ennerdale Cycle Circuit, offering cyclists from novice to seasoned cyclists a 1km circuit. This is the region’s only all-weather circuit, with loops and straights to test riders’ power, skill, and endurance.
Hull boasts a rugby league that calls the MKM Stadium home, along with Hull City AFC.
The arts and cultural sector is going from strength to strength in the city, with events such as the Freedom Festival entertaining audiences each year with a programme of theatre, music, comedy, and poetry.
The Hull New Theatre and the Hull Truck Theatre put on performances year-round of some of the most elaborate shows with award-winning performers and shows gracing their stages.
Hedon St Augustine’s Beer Festival, Cottingham Folk Festival, and the Hull Science Festival are some of the annual festivities that take place in this seaside town.
With a city centre that lights up with tourists and locals to appreciate the local culture and learn new things, the festivals in Hull are not in the league of some enormous music festivals, but rather more appropriate for socialising and appreciating the surroundings.
A large, young student town means that a number of the residents of this city are looking for nightlife. Hull does not disappoint; with bars, pubs, and clubs lining the streets of the city centre, Hull nightlife is a flourishing industry.