A team of Hull historians have launched a new project to collect stories and memories of Hull in the last 80 years – and they need your help.
Dr Charlotte Tomlinson, a historian from Hull, and Dr James Greenhalgh, based at the University of Lincoln, are building a new history of the city since the 1940s, based on ordinary people’s stories of their everyday lives.
James’ interest in Hull was sparked by a visit to the city to play rugby league in his early twenties: “I was immediately struck by how keen a sense of local identity and pride existed in Hull and how unique the attachment of local people to the city was”.
James’ last book used Hull as one of the case studies to look at post-war reconstruction and this project continues his investigation. “Hull is an incredibly important and interesting city that’s gone through enormous changes over the years – changes that tell us not just about Hull, but about Britain in the twentieth century – but like other Northern cities, it’s been neglected. We want to change that by talking to locals of all ages – whether they’ve lived in Hull their whole lives, stayed in Hull for just a few years, or came to the city as adults and never left – and it’s especially important to talk to older generations before their stories are lost forever”.
The project will culminate in a co-produced exhibition at Hull History Centre in 2023 as well as a book about people’s connections to heritage and place. Over the next two years, the team will also assemble a collection of people’s stories and memories that will be preserved for future generations.
“One of the brilliant things about people in Hull is how much we like to chat – and how nosy we are!” says Charlotte. “You can get on a bus for 10 minutes or stop for a cup of tea in a cafe and you’ll often end up talking to someone, and by the time you leave you’ll know their story and what matters to them. We want to tap into that local culture of storytelling to build a fuller and richer history of the past 80 years than we’ve ever had before.”
“We want to know about the big historical moments as well as stories of ordinary people’s everyday lives. So we want people to tell us about the impact of the blitz during the Second World War, as well as about chip spice and pattie butties. We want to know about the Humber Bridge as well as Hull Fair – the places that have been important and meaningful to people. Maybe that’s the first place you worked, the estate that your grandparents grew up on, maybe it’s the spot in town where you eat your dinner, maybe it’s the number 76 bus.”
How can people get involved?
The team want to talk to as many people as possible about their stories of Hull and what the city means to them. There are three different ways that people can take part.
Firstly, people are invited to attend one of the project’s public workshops at the Hull History Centre, where attendees can share their memories and experiences over a cup of tea, view historic photographs and other materials from the centre’s collections, and help shape the research directions of the project. The first workshop will be held on Monday 22nd November, and details can be found here.
People can also add their stories to the project’s online Memory Map now, and after Christmas the team want to interview more people about their lives in Hull. “No story is too big or too small,” says Charlotte. “Whatever your connection to our city, we want to hear it.”
Images: Hull History Centre