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The city in which Larkin found himself has origins dating back to the 1100s, when it was known as Wyke, situated on the 'shining gull-marked mud' of the rivers Hull and Humber. In 1293 it was bought by King Edward I and renamed Kingston upon Hull. Over time, it developed as a major European port. It has a long and proud history, with a strong independent streak and a noticable sense of community, which Larkin so closely observed: 'residents from raw estates... dwelling/Where only salesmen and relations come'. Above all, he appreciated the people's straightforwardness, their freedom from London sophistication. They were, he wrote: 'urban yet simple'. Today, Hull welcomes around 4 million visitors a year.
This particular part of the journey leads you to places frequented by Larkin, both when he was alone and when in the company of others. It guides you to pubs where he enjoyed a pint (or something a little stronger on the rocks), pauses at places where he indulged his passion for jazz and takes you to the point from which he could look back at this 'isolate city spread alongside water' as he took the ferry over to Lincolnshire and back.
As with any city centre, some parts have changed radically over the years. Other streets look almost the same as they did decades ago. Hull's fascinating Old Town, with its cobbles, porticos and intriguing staiths, is one such area. Tracing his footsteps across the city, you feel that wherever he was, Larkin was simply 'here'.
Royal Hotel > Paragon Interchange > City Hall > Whitefriargate & Marks & Spencer > Land of Green Ginger > Trinity Square > The Pier & Waiting Room > High Street & Ye Olde Black Boy > The White Hart > Hull History Centre
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TA 092287 53.74325 -0.34570
The City Centre section of the Trail is designed to be enjoyed on foot and takes around 2.5 hours to walk. Taking into account the many enticing locations, including several museums and galleries as well as Hull History Centre, you might like to plan for a full day. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants along the way for rest and refreshment, including two of Larkin's favourite pubs in the Old Town.
: 0 miles from Hull Interchange station