What it’s like in Hessle Road

ONCE A THRIV­ING COM­MU­NITY, IT IS NOW A MUCH SLEEPIER DISTRICT, WRITES ALEX GROVE

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from the once boom­ing fish­ing in­dus­try and what we see now is a bustling and busy shop­ping cen­tre burst­ing with lo­cal busi­nesses and in­de­pen­dents.

Of course, it is not with­out its prob­lems – but what road isn’t?

Spot­ting a man laid out, Alex still asked if he was OK – prob­a­bly not the only per­son to do so on this friendly road.

Hessle Road­ers want their part of Hull and their he­roes cel­e­brated – and so they should. Once home to Lil Bilocca and her head­scarf rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies, the homes and peo­ple of Hessle Road were her in­spi­ra­tion to fight for her own, some­thing that is in­stilled in ev­ery­one that passes by.

It isn’t just a road, it is a way of life.

It is one of Hull’s most il­lus­tri­ous roads and was the beat­ing heart of the city’s once-boom­ing fish­ing in­dus­try. How­ever, af­ter the bit­ter Cod Wars of the 1970s saw the dis­man­tling of the trawler trade, Hessle Road has had to adapt and forge a new iden­tity for it­self.

While there are still many nods to the past down the street, with fan­tas­tic mu­rals com­mem­o­rat­ing the Head­scarf Rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies and the Triple Trawler Tragedy, there are also some new trends and in­flu­ences, which are chang­ing the char­ac­ter of the his­toric Hessle Road.

We spent a day wan­der­ing up and down Hessle Road to take in the sights and chat to traders about life on west Hull’s most fa­mous street.

Here is the pic­ture they painted of life down Hessle Road.

1 In­de­pen­dent shops are still flour­ish­ing

If you’re look­ing to snap up a bar­gain, or sim­ply can’t be both­ered with the hus­tle and bus­tle of town, then Hessle Road is the per­fect in-be­tween.

From jew­ellers to car­pet flog­gers, fruit and veg sell­ers to dry clean­ers, you can get any­thing and ev­ery­thing from some­where in Hessle Road and down the street it is pri­mar­ily in­de­pen­dents that are rul­ing the roost.

While there are some mod­ern firms such as Wilko, Ice­land and a huge Asda near Brighton Street, the in­de­pen­dents are still hugely im­por­tant to Hessle Road­ers.

Danny Har­ri­son owns Danny’s Fruit and Veg and works next door to his dad,

Gra­ham, who runs the epony­mously named Gra­ham’s Florist.

Danny got in­volved in the fam­ily busi­ness as a child for a bit of ex­tra pocket money, be­fore tak­ing over the green­gro­cers as an adult.

“It is my first and only job and it is all I’ve ever known,” the 30-year-old said.

“It’s great hav­ing the flower shop next door, be­cause peo­ple will go in for flow­ers and then they’ll pop by here for some veg be­cause peo­ple like to grab ex­tra bits and bobs when they are out.”

Although he loves what he does, Danny ad­mits that trade down the street is not what it used to be and he wants the his­tory of Hessle Road to be cel­e­brated and pub­li­cised as much as pos­si­ble to en­cour­age more cus­tomers.

“The more we cel­e­brate our her­itage, the more peo­ple will come down here. The memo­rial ser­vices down here have been bril­liant for bring­ing in lots of peo­ple, but when it’s not so busy it can be a strug­gle,” he said.

“I’m so proud of what my fam­ily cre­ated. My grandad was a fish­er­man and he’d be happy to know we are still here. If it weren’t for my dad hav­ing this busi­ness I don’t know what I’d be do­ing now.”

2 The in­cred­i­ble mu­rals

Wow! Driv­ing down Hessle Road al­lows you to catch a very quick glimpse of these in­cred­i­ble paint­ings, but see­ing them in the flesh as you walk along makes you re­alise just how amaz­ing they are.

From the wel­come mu­ral at the junc­tion with the A63 to the Lil­lian Bilocca paint­ing on the side of Dixon’s bak­ery, there are many in­cred­i­ble art­works hon­our­ing the brave trawler­men and the fight by the rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies for im­proved reg­u­la­tions on board boats at sea.

How­ever, it is a shame to see some of them have al­ready been scrawled with graf­fiti tags af­ter so much time, ef­fort and skill has gone into cre­at­ing such mas­ter­pieces.

3 Stack it high, sell it cheap

I can safely say I have never seen a shop like this any­where on my trav­els. Crates of tea, bis­cuits, en­ergy drinks – you name it – are stacked up high on wooden pal­lets for all to see.

And the name of the store is pretty much a case of it do­ing what it says on the tin. You can stock up on all your favourites while grab­bing a bar­gain thanks to the won­ders of whole­sal­ing.

Hafiza Riaz co-owns the stores in Hessle Road, Hold­er­ness Road and Hull city cen­tre with her hus­band Im­ran An­war. She said: “It’s cheaper than the mar­kets and it is very pop­u­lar with peo­ple.

“A lot of peo­ple come in the car, be­cause they can park more eas­ily in Hessle Road than Hold­er­ness Road, so we get more of that rather than pass­ing trade.

“I feel proud to be here in Hessle Road and it’s great to be in such a well-known street.”

4 Euro­pean con­ve­nience stores

Like a lot of ar­eas, Hessle Road is now home to many Euro­pean con­ve­nience stores, which sell spe­cific sets of goods catered to a for­eign mar­ket.

Yadgar Ahmed has lived in Hull for 15 years and is orig­i­nally from Kur­dis­tan. He works for Biedronka, which caters for a lot of Polish res­i­dents in the area, many of whom are en­ticed to the Hessle Road area be­cause of cheaper rent prices, ac­cord­ing to Mr Ahmed.

Talk­ing me through his most pop­u­lar sales, Mr Ahmed, who lives in Porter Street, said: “Things like Lays crisps in the salty flavour are pop­u­lar. I bought the English flavours, but peo­ple didn’t want to buy it.

“I sell lots of noo­dles and even when it comes to things like salt cus­tomers buy our one, be­cause it’s from Poland, even though it’s more ex­pen­sive.

“It’s im­por­tant for our cus­tomers to know they can get the food they know and want from us here in Hessle Road.”

5 Good old fish and chips

Although the fish­ing in­dus­try has long gone from the Hessle Road area, the street is still reign­ing supreme when it comes to chip­pies.

Mol­lones Molly has been la­belled as “the best chip shop in Hull” on Tripad­vi­sor and its owner, Nina Brown, says ev­ery­body still loves a good fish sup­per.

“I think it’s still pop­u­lar, espe­cially if it’s done the tra­di­tional way,” she said.

“I’m still about beef drip­ping and do­ing things the tra­di­tional way and not many do that, be­cause most peo­ple just fry.

“The fish­ing her­itage is still very im­por­tant here and I think ev­ery­body loves a good fish and chips.”

6 An eerie ghost town

It’s a marked con­trast see­ing Hessle Road by day and then by night. By day the sun shines and the streets are full of wan­der­ing shop­pers and pedes­tri­ans, but at night you will barely see a soul.

Ad­mit­tedly, Hessle Road is not a night time des­ti­na­tion, with a lim­ited amount of pubs, bars and restau­rants for pun­ters and din­ers to en­joy.

On a 9pm stroll I no­ticed six take­aways, two pubs, an Asda, two con­ve­nience stores, two book­ies, two amuse­ments and one petrol sta­tion open.

Both pubs had no more than a dozen peo­ple in and an­other was shut com­pletely. Clearly there is noth­ing en­tic­ing peo­ple to the area and it con­trasted mas­sively to streets like New­land Av­enue and Princes Av­enue.

It felt like I was wan­der­ing through a ghost town. Res­i­dents say even pros­ti­tutes in the area are more likely to be seen early in the morn­ing.

Kaisim Ib­bis, man­ager of EKO Del­i­catessen, said: “Even from about 7.30pm it’s so quiet down here. If there were pubs, cafés and shops open then maybe peo­ple would come out.”

7

The empty shops

I no­ticed a lot of aban­doned units dur­ing the day down Hessle Road, but the sheer num­ber of them be­came even more ap­par­ent at night.

There are lots of ‘To Let’ and ‘For Sale’ signs scat­tered along build­ings up and down Hessle Road and just so many op­por­tu­ni­ties to bring life to the street.

8

One strange sight

Although the street was quiet and full of lit­tle signs of life there was one man who was clearly hav­ing a ball as he laid flat out on the pave­ment near the junc­tion with Boule­vard.

Con­cerned for his wel­fare I headed over to ask him if he was all right. He said he was just “wait­ing for a mate” and af­ter re­fus­ing my of­fer of help I left him to it. He got up a cou­ple of min­utes later and took a pew on a bench, which was prob­a­bly what he was try­ing to do in the first place.

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