Hull & Me: John and Janet Bark

In this blog series, we’re talking to people about their connections to Hull and what the city means to them. In this post we’re chatting to Janet Bark and John Bark, two people who’ve taken part in our workshops and oral history series. You can listen to the recording of them answering our questions, or read along below.


Thanks for chatting to us! First things first – tell us a bit more about you.

Janet: Hi I’m Janet, a semi-retired professional gardener, a HEY Volunteer, and someone who loves being creative.

John: Hi I’m John, I’m 68 years old and retired, but I do a lot of volunteering.

Great. What’s your relationship to Hull?

Janet: Well I was born and bred in Hull, left to go to college and do some travelling, and then came back to the city to live, probably about 40 years ago. Having been a City of Culture/Absolutely Cultured and now HEY Volunteer since 2016 I’ve become very attached to my home city.

John: I was born and bred in Hull, only been away from Hull in the early 70s when I did my degree. I wanted to come back to Hull after my degree, I was lucky enough to get a job before I graduated. I am proud of being a Hullensian and I’m extremely privileged to live here, for most of my 68 years. I’m very grateful for my life here so I like to put something back by volunteering for many organisations, examples being HEY Volunteers, Freedom and others.

Can you tell us about a place in the city that’s special or memorable to you?

Janet: Well I think it’ll have to be the old Boulevard, firstly it was a place I watched Hull FC as a youngster, with my best friend and her brother, who I eventually married. We also spent a lot of great evenings there, at the Young Supporters Club, which is more like a youth club. And then in 1986/87 season John bought me a Hull FC pass to sit next to his Mother. I decided that was tantamount to an engagement. It was definitely a season’s commitment.

John: Sport and music play a big part in my life, especially rugby league, so a place would be Hull FC’s first ground off Boulevard. This is where I started watching Hull FC in 1963. I used to go with my Dad, Grandmother, and my Great Uncle. Later in the late 70s my Mother started to come as well. In 1986 I gave Janet, now my wife, a pass for her to sit with me and my Mum and Dad.

What’s one thing we absolutely need to include in a history of Hull?

Janet: Well I feel more people should know about the fact that Horatio Nelson Smith was born in Hull, and took over the running of Smith and Nephews after the death of the founder, and his Uncle Thomas James in 1896. Anyone with this formidable name should be known by everyone, rather than just known as ‘Nephew’.

John: There are so many events and people that have influenced Hull’s history, Amy Johnson, John Hotham, William Wilberforce are just a few examples. But my pick would be Mary Murdoch, she was the city’s first female general practitioner and also a suffragette. She became a GP in 1891 about 25 years after the first female GP in England. I feel this story needs to be told because I didn’t know about this lady until a couple of years ago, when a new bridge over the A63 was named after her.

Finally, what’s your favourite thing about the city?

Janet: I love the Old Town, and I love its friendliness.

John: I think my favourite thing about my city is the Old Town and its welcoming feel.

Thanks so much! Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

Janet: Well, I just want to say that the last six years volunteering has taught me so much about my city, and the more you get to know about the city’s history, the more proud you become of the city.

John: Since my retirement my life has been enriched with volunteering, making new friends, meeting many interesting people and being an ambassador for the city. Since volunteering, I feel, I’ve been to such diverse events, such as opera, the classics in the park, I do not have a comfort zone any more.





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