The words Hull, interesting and family fun don’t often get said together, however, a few years ago we headed to Hull on a tip off of a museum which was worth a look.
A few years later and having good memories of said museum, we headed back on a rainy, dreary Saturday.
Hull’s Museum Quarter is the easiest place to get to, from the M62, leading to the A63, all double and triple lane with about 300 feet of local roads to the car park of choice on Market Place, which when we visited was £3 all day on Saturdays – bargain – keeping in mind it closes at 6pm so not somewhere to head if you are heading for a night out too.
From here, a short 10 minute walk down Scale Lane and then down by the River Hull to the moored Arctic Corsair ship.
We found ourselves in a courtyard, and two museums separated by a garden dedicated to Nelson Mandela.
We headed to the museum we had made the trip for first, the Streetlife Museum.
The building is a little under stated, the only major clue to what is inside is a short run of tram rails coming out of a large door. We entered the small reception area and a friendly member of staff pointed us the way, past a BMW Isetta, nick named the Bubble Car.
The Streetlife Museum is a little higgledy piggledy in the layout, its very easy to get lost in the numerous trucks, trains, trams and cars, but this leads to a choose your own adventure, a new way to navigate each visit, although leads to a feeling you have not seen something.
The main hall we found ourselves in had two trams, one we could climb aboard and listen to pre-recorded chit chat from passengers, the other, a double decker, we could climb aboard, but only at the front, not inside the tram itself.
We got a little lost here, we could have taken a route to the right and into a room with old arcade games, or up some stairs. We headed up the stairs and found a car which you could climb into, and for £1 some TV’s would play a recording of some roads while the car jiggled a little and a small fan blew in your general direction – having driven to the museum, I knew how driving felt like so we gave it a miss.
Up some more stairs, we found a long corridor with old cars lining one wall. Off the corridor was a few rooms. The first told the story of bicycles, with loads of different bikes, Penny Farthings, racers, traditional, ones with prop shafts, they were all in this room!
The next room along was possibly our favourite, the Carriage Room. A display of numerous horse and carriages, but the whole room is themed to narrow streets and small scenes, with sounds and smells throughout. A free ride is available where you can climb into one of the carriages and experience it bumping around as though travelling down the unpaved roads.
We found this room completely engaging and spent quite a while inside before heading back downstairs and picking up the museum with the Railway Gallery. A train parked inside we climbed aboard, and a few displays.
In front of the trains is the Street Scene, a long street with Chemist shop, a Co-Op, a Sweet Shop, multiple cars, a bus, even a plane flying over – yet another totally engaging space.
After this we had finished the museum, not 100% we had seen everything, but time had come to head on to the Hull and East Riding Museum.
This museum took us through thousands of years of local history, starting with a huge, life size Woolly Mammoth called Mortimer. From here, we discovered life under the sea, with plenty of hands on exhibits, before moving on to the prehistoric man displays, with skeletons on display which were found in the local area, all with their own story and all laid out as they were buried, giving us the chance to learn different burial methods.
Next up, the Romans, with brilliantly themed rooms, original mosaics, and hundreds of artefacts dug up from local land.
The end of the museum tells how all the influences of visiting and invading countries all went together to create what we today think of traditional English items.
Another interesting museum, but it was at this stage our son was starting to get bored, with nothing really to capture and keep his interest, such as a work sheet or similar, it was starting to become a struggle.
With a few hours left before the museums closed, we decided to press on and visit the Wilberforce House – the childhood home of William Wilberforce, a man who lived between 1759 to 1833, and was a leading person in the battle to abolish slavery.
This museum was a lot different to the previous two, the Wilberforce House is just that, a house, and its original features can still be seen, now surrounded with glass cabinets and artefacts from Wilberforce’s life, including his personal books, furniture and hand written letters.
Deeper into the museum we learnt about the slave trade, and the horrid conditions that the people captured endured. The Wilberforce House museum is a place which really made us think, how terrible things were, and how lucky we are today, but also pointing out the slavery still continues and there is still work to do.
The Museums Quarter contains much more than the three museums we visited, and we must return to carry on exploring this area, and the old town of Hull. Ideally, the area could do with something for children to run off a little steam, a small playground or similar, even some worksheets they could follow would help, but if you take your time, and know the limits of how tolerant your children are to reading panels and small boards, and maybe visit the Wilberforce House without the very young.
We had a great time, with an area which is so easy to get to, we will certainly be heading back to the area, the museums more than deserve repeat visits, however, with these museums not charging an entrance fee and recent cut backs means a limited opening time, so always check their website before you visit to ensure you won’t be left disappointed.