In this blog series, we’re talking to people about their connections to Hull and what the city means to them. In our first post we’re chatting to Dr Charlotte Tomlinson, Research Associate on The Half Life of the Blitz project.
First things first – tell us a bit more about yourself.
Hi, I’m Charlotte, I’m a creative historian and one half of the Half Life’s project team. I’m a social and cultural historian of modern Britain, which means that I study ordinary people’s lives over the last 100 years, and the stories that are told about them – including here in Hull. I’m a dedicated public historian and I usually work on projects in partnership with members of the public and community groups (such as The Hull Blitz Trail, a heritage trail I created in Hull during its year as UK City of Culture in 2017). I particularly love anything that includes chatting to people, exploring ordinary people’s stories, and projects that are arty, creative, and collaborative.
Great. What’s your relationship to Hull?
I grew up in Hull and apart from a few years away when I was at university, I’ve always lived here. I grew up on stories of Hull’s past, as told through various members of my family – from my Grandad’s stories of being a child during the Hull Blitz and my Grandma’s stories of growing up on Hessle Road, to my parent’s memories of working at Reckitt’s and nights out at LAs. It was hearing these stories, and wanting to know more about people’s everyday lives in the city, that led me to becoming a historian.
Can you tell us about a place in the city that’s special or memorable to you?
Hepworth’s Arcade in Old Town always feels really special to me. I remember coming here with my Dad when I was young, we would spend ages looking in the window of the joke shop (which felt completely magical, so many possibilities), and choosing something to take home and play tricks on the rest of our family with. Then we’d cut through the ‘secret’ door in the corner into Trinity Market, which again felt like a magic rabbit warren of stalls and sellers. As I got older we started browsing Beasley’s for vintage clothes as well as shopping for jokes – but we’d always finish up with a bag of chips to share from Bob Carver’s.
What’s one thing we absolutely need to include in a history of Hull?
People! For me, people are at the heart of this project, and they’re what makes Hull such a special place. Hull has such a strong storytelling culture – you only have to get on a bus, sit down in a café, or bump into one of our amazing HEY! Volunteers and suddenly you’ll find yourself in a conversation about people’s lives in the city and what it means to be from Hull.
Finally, what’s your favourite thing about the city?
It’s hard to choose, but I think my favourite thing about Hull is being on the water. I love to walk along the river at Hessle Foreshore and Vicky Dock, or look out into the Humber from the pier near the marina. And the sea – when I lived in Leeds being a short ride away from the beach at Withernsea was probably the thing I missed the most. Plus, seeing the Humber Bridge come into view over the river is always a special moment, a sign that wherever you’ve been, you’re nearly home.
Thanks for kicking off our first post in the new Hull & Me series. Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
I’m currently looking for people to talk to about their lives in Hull, so if you’d be interested in taking part in our oral history interviews please get in touch. No story is too big or too small, too ordinary or too extraordinary – I want to hear them all!
Charlotte Tomlinson is Research Associate on The Half Life of the Blitz on Hull project. You can follow her on Twitter @charltommo.