Association of Open University Graduates

2006 AGM

A new perspective | Hull: Past & Present

Kingston-upon-Hull : A new perspective on a historic city

Perhaps few people who signed up for the Spring Weekend realised how much the City of Hull had to offer. I am sure many members of the Association have heard of "The Deep" and have either driven across, or seen pictures of the Humber Bridge but on closer inspection there is so much more.

On Friday afternoon a small group went to visit The Deep which is the world's only submarium. An iconic angular build of glass and steel projecting precariously out over the Humber estuary, adjacent to the River Hull. It was well worth a visit, especially for fans of aquariums and modern architecture.

Following the AGM on Saturday morning, there were several activities planned, appealing to a wide range of interests. A walk was arranged by the Yorkshire Regional Walking Group around Hornsea Mere, Yorkshire's largest freshwater lake and a remnant of the Ice Age or alternatively, for the keen shoppers a visit to Hornsea Freeport - a shopping village, the first of its kind.

Many members decided to take the train a few miles north of Hull to the bustling market town of Beverley. A relatively unspoilt townscape, with an expansive market area at the heart of the town, featuring many historic buildings and impressive architecture, including the delightful Market Cross erected in 1714. As the group was led through some of the narrow streets the surprise element was turning the corner of Highgate to the first view of the magnificent Beverley Minster. The Minster was founded around 705, although the current building dates back to 1220 following a disastrous fire in 1188, it remains one of the finest examples of Gothic Architecture in the UK. It is interesting to note that according to Alec Clifton-Taylor, the Architectural Historian, "Beverley, having regard to its great artistic importance, must be the least known town in England".

The group separated out to explore more fully the historic town and returned independently back to Hull, in time to get changed and ready for the "Gala Dinner". The Association was honoured by the presence of the Lord Mayor of Hull, Councillor Bryan Bradley, representatives from Alumni and the Yorkshire Regional Director, Nick Berry. The after dinner speaker was Dr David Turton, an OU Staff Tutor who captivated the audience with a geographical perspective of Yorkshire and more specifically Hull - It was entertaining, informative and very well received. I now know where Humberol Paint was made! As part of the official activities there was a presentation of a "pennant" symbolising the hand over to the next host region for the AOUG Spring Weekend. Without the hard work of the Regional Representative the Association would not flourish. Hence the inscription on the plinth being "Through the regions lies our strength". The 2007 event will be 18th-20th May at Crystal Palace, South London. After the presentation, the late night entertainment was a Barn Dance, with a very professional folk band.

Following Breakfast on Sunday, over 20 members enjoyed the "Fish Trail". It was worth mentioning that Hull is famous for its seafaring past. The fishing industry employed thousands of citizens from the 1800s to the late 20th century. It is this focus that inspired the trail. The self guided walk followed pavement engravings, depicting over 40 different fish types. Teams of 2,3 or 4 hunted for as many as possible, through the most historic parts of the city, often being side-tracked by impressive sculptures, vistas of the estuary and fascinating old dockside buildings. There was one winning group, however all that took part gained a special personalised souvenir certificate.

Whilst others were engaged with the planned activities many members explored the host of other attractions , including Wilberforce House (The home of the successful campaigner for the abolishment of the slave trade), Spurn Lightship now permanently moored in the marina, the Hull Maritime Museum and the award winning Ferens Art Gallery.

As delegates left the City heading westwards, they may well have noticed the Humber Bridge. When built it was the longest single span suspension bridge in the world. It still remains a fantastic sight leaping from one side of the Humber Estuary to Lincolnshire on the other side.

On reflection, building bridges is perhaps quintessential to the AOUG as it approaches its own 21st birthday celebrations. It was a busy, enjoyable and interesting weekend, which clearly showed that Kingston-upon-Hull was a city to discover and a city to remember.

Alan Lascelles - Region 07