Hull on Film: Tales from a City

Following on from our hugely successful Hull on Film project, featuring community screenings and events to re-connect people with local archive footage, we’re taking a brand-new look at life in the city with our series of online exhibitions.

Thanks to support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we’re delighted to reveal some of the stories that we uncovered during the project – and you can view them from the comfort of your armchair!

Tales from a City is a collection of nine mini online exhibitions based on films held in YFA’s vaults, enriched by stories gathered from the people of Hull over the past two years, and from those who were involved in the making of the films. They form part of the prestigious Google Arts & Culture platform. 

The Children’s Tale gives an insight into the lives of some of the city’s children during World War II: those who were evacuated to the comparative safety of rural North Yorkshire, those who stayed behind and experienced the devastating bombing raids of the Hull Blitz, and the excitement felt by everyone celebrating the end of the war in Europe with parades and street parties.

The Trawlerman’s Tale looks at the life and career of Ron Wilkinson – now Chairman of STAND, the St Andrew’s Dock heritage group.    Born in Hessle Road, fishing was in Ron’s blood; at the age of 11, he spent three weeks on a trawler off the Russian coast – a ‘pleasure trip’ to allow him to see first-hand what life at sea was like. 

The Bird Watcher’s Tale focuses on pioneering ornithologist Ralph Chislett – one of the founders of Spurn Point, the first mainland ringing station in the UK.  Ralph’s brother, Charles, was a talented semi-professional filmmaker and captured footage showing the dedication of these pioneers.

The Aviator’s Tale features none other than Hull’s very own Amy Johnson – the first female pilot to fly alone from Britain to Australia – who was born in St George’s Road in July 1903 and went on to attend Boulevard Municipal Secondary School.  Footage is included of her triumphant return to home-ground, Hedon Aerodrome, following her return from Australia in August 1930.

The Tugmen’s Tale introduces Mike Crawley and Garry Bales B.E.M, who both have extraordinary tales to tell!  Mike’s exploits included a deep-sea voyage to Port Harcourt in Africa, during which he recorded life on board with his 8mm cine camera.  Garry played an important role in the Falklands campaign, setting sail for the South Atlantic on board the ‘Irishman’, as part of the liberation Task Force, and was later awarded the British Empire Medal for Bravery.

The Film Maker’s Tale focuses on someone whose name might not be familiar, but who was at the heart of Hull’s cultural life for over 50 years: actor, stage producer, broadcaster, puppeteer, fundraiser and film maker, Hannchen Drasdo, who was born in the city in 1886.

The Bargeman’s Daughter – Kitty Shackleton – recounts her experiences travelling with her father, Captain One-Eyed Jim Richardson, on his barge, the 'Nab', during the 1950s.  From the age of 12, Kitty would often wake up in the middle of the night and join her father to load up the barge with wheat, sailing to the mills at Gainsborough and Saxilby, before heading for the hold, where she would curl up to sleep on the sacks.

The Presenter’s Tale is all about the well-known naturalist, journalist, and TV presenter, Michael Clegg, whose roots were firmly established around the Humber estuary (his grandmother was from Hull, his grandfather from New Holland) and who loved to spend time in his holiday home at Kilnsea, near Spurn.  Footage from a 1983 episode of Yorkshire TV’s Clegg’s People sees Michael exploring Hull, including a visit to two highly-impressive public conveniences!  

The Pilot’s Tale looks at the career of Tony Porter who retrained as a Humber Pilot in 1991, following a career spent at sea which included taking part in the Falklands campaign as 2nd Mate of the ammunition-carrying MV ‘Lycaon’.   Tony recounts some of his memorable moments, including his first solo trip, steering in thick fog with a magnetic compass, and being run aground on the Whittons,  stranded overnight before being rescued by the Humber tug 'Riverman' the following morning.

For even more fabulous archive footage – not to mention an ideal gift with Christmas on the horizon! – take a look at YFA’s Hull on Film DVD, which features an astonishing look back at life in Hull over the decades, presented by born and bred Hullensian, filmmaker Sean McAllister.

Visit our Hull on Film page to buy and find out more, or pop into the Hull Museum shops next time you’re in town to pick up a copy there.  At £10.00 it is an absolute must for family and friends, and everyone who loves Hull!