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Local history and heritage
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History of Hull

Maritime heritage

Hull's past has been intertwined with the sea since the middle ages. The fishing industry formed a major part of the city's economy until relatively recently.


Voyage sculpture in Hull

For and Voyage statues - a special bond celebrated with art
Hull City Council was supported by the British and Icelandic governments, private sector companies in Hull, and the British Embassy in Iceland to commission two artworks.

The first, called Voyage, gazes across the Humber from Victoria Pier. Its eyes follow the direction Hull trawlers would take on their way to Iceland. The sculpture is made from brass on a basalt rock plinth, and was unveiled by Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. 

The second, called For, faces the wind and rain-buffeted Icelandic coastline, at a small community called Vik. It looks across the cold north Atlantic towards Hull. And the unveiling of the Vik monument, made from aluminium, was attended by Icelandic Foreign Minister Valgerour Sverrisdottir, with Lord Mayor Trevor Larsen leading a party of delegates from Hull.

Sculptress Steinnun Thorarinsdottir said she was inspired by people who made their living on the sea, and the loved ones who waited on shore, longing for their return.

“Of all the art projects I have been involved with, this has been by far the most special and meaningful. It has been a privilege to work with Hull City Council, and I hope the monuments in Hull and Vik are a lasting tribute to the close relationship between our two communities.”

Tough living from the seaFor sculpture in Vik, Iceland
You have to search hard on the map to find Vik, a beautiful and remote area of just a few hundred souls. But to generations of Hull fishermen and seafarers who worked off its coastline, the area was much-visited and had special significance. It was where they made their living in difficult and dangerous conditions.

On many occasions, Hull trawlermen were rescued by local people when vessels ran aground in shallow water, and given food and shelter until the ships were towed to safety and righted.

Tragically some never returned, meeting their deaths when boats were lost.

More than 1000 years of history
Hull and Iceland are connected by more than 1000 years of trade across the Arctic seas. The country was established by Vikings from Denmark who stole women from the north of England – many from the Hull region – to start families and populate a new nation.

But the bonds of friendship were pushed to breaking point during the Cod Wars, a bitter conflict over the rights to fishing grounds which began in 1950 and finally ended in 1976.

Hull’s fishing industry never recovered, but the economic gap has been filled by Icelandic companies who have created jobs in food processing and other industries in the city.

It is hoped the feeling of goodwill generated by the sculptures will ripple through the business community of the two nations, bringing more Icelandic investment and jobs to Hull.

These poems were published to commemorate the unveiling of the Voyage statue -

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