The other side: a day trip to Hull

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Another late start! It snowed properly overnight, and so the ground was covered by a layer of snow. I rugged up and headed down to the train station to get a train to Leeds, and then on to Hull. Along the way down I took great pleasure in stomping on the snow and picking up handfuls to play with. It’s rather childish, but I am still amazed and amused by the weird substance. It’s very new to me. Keighley is very picturesque with its steep hills and rows of houses covered in snow.

I bought my return ticket to Leeds and waited for the train. It’s ironic that a sign on the platform reads “A warm welcome to Keighley” while there’s snow all about. The train came and I was on my way! I just missed the connection at Leeds for Hull, so I got lunch and waited. It was freezing! The train was warm and comfortable though.

Snow-covered fields flew past as the train sped towards the east. My gosh the Humber Estuary enormous! It must be at least as wide as Sydney Harbour. The bridge that spans it is equally enormous. My first stop was the sweet shop to pick up some fudge to take back home with me. Then a little further down to the Hull Maritime Museum.

The Maritime Museum is very interesting because Hull was a major centre for whaling in the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and so has an expansive collection on the subject. Of course, while I object to whaling, it is still a significant part of history and was fascinating. Though some of the methods used were frankly gruesome and disturbing. Entry is free and the Museum has collections relating to trawling among others.

After this I walked to the Wilberforce House Museum. This has a sort of personal aspect to it. For those who don’t know, I live on the outskirts of a town called Wilberforce that is on the fringe of Western Sydney. The town is named after the British Member of Parliament William Wilberforce, possible the most prominent campaigner for the abolition of slavery in Britain. To be standing in a museum where he was actually born is to be looking at an extension of local history from back home.

The Museum is dedicated to William Wilberforce’s life and work, as well as to the history of slavery and the abolition movement. I felt sick looking at some of the anti-escape/restraining/punishment devices. I don’t recall the names and I didn’t feel like taking pictures because I doubt I’d’ve been able to hold the camera steady. There were chains, obviously, to go around the neck and wrists and ankles, but also an iron collar with four rods sticking outwards at right angles with hooks on the ends. It was designed to be prohibitively difficult to move in, preventing slaves from being able to sleep properly, and the hooks would latch onto things preventing escape. Another one was a long stick with a fork in the top and a bar of metal across the fork. The slave’s neck was placed in the fork and the bar was fastened across the back of their neck. This made it impossible to move and was an inexpensive restraint.

How could someone do that to a fellow human being and think that’s okay? Some terrible human behaviour can be justified to an extent, but I just can’t see how anyone can justify treating a living, breathing, thinking, feeling and talking human that way. It’s not like slaves couldn’t indicate their lack of consent or couldn’t cry out. People must’ve known that they were exploiting — in every sense of the word — another class of fellow human beings.

By all accounts William Wilberforce was an upstanding and respected member of society. His legacy is inspiring, though sadly by no means complete. It’s sad that after so long slavery is still a major problem.

I decided to leave and walked to Holy Trinity Church. This church was built in the 14th Century, and unfortunately I don’t know too much about it except that it is considered an exemplar of medieval architecture and is where William Wilberforce was christened or baptised. It’s definitely beautiful and, again, enormous. Is anything small here? The answer seems to be “no!” (or “no-oh” if you’re from Yorkshire).

A stop in for a pint and a check on the train times indicated I had enough time to get to the station before the train to Leeds left, but when I got there I’d missed it! I was there five minutes early though! I had to wait an hour for the next one. The journey back to Keighley turned out to be a long one! Picked up some heat patches for my knee (which is sore for some reason, and seems to be related to the cold) and a glue stick so I could stick various things into my travel diary (upon which my blog posts are based).

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Author: Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer

Pirate Party Australia Deputy Secretary and Press Officer. Former member of the Pirate Parties International Court of Arbitration.