Dan Snow makes history for Hull at Centre's official opening

7th June 2010

Broadcaster and historian Dan Snow officially opened the Hull History Centre at 10.30am today, Monday 7 June on behalf of Hull City Council and the University of Hull.

Guest of honour Snow unveiled a plaque to commemorate the occasion and was given a guided tour of the impressive new centre - a building made possible thanks to a generous £7.7m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, one of the largest amounts ever given to an archive project in the UK.

Official Opening of the History Centre

(l to r) Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull Professor Calie Pistorius; Lord Mayor of Kingston upon Hull David Gemmell, OBE and Dan Snow. 

As part of the tour, staff put together a display of original material held at the centre spanning 11 centuries of history (details in Notes for Editors). Dan Snow then went on to deliver a public lecture on 'The Importance of History' at the Guildhall in the afternoon - with a live link on to a screen in the History Centre where more people were watching.

Hull is the first city in the UK to bring together its city and university archives, local studies resources and specialist staff into one hi-tech building. The centre has already attracted almost 20,000 visitors since it opened to the public on 25 January.

It's a fitting home for the 9,000 metres of archives which include the most extensive range of WW2 records nationally, the personal letters of pioneering aviator Amy Johnson, archives relating to anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce, the pressure group Liberty and a wealth of local history and maritime records.

Speaking at the History Centre, Dan Snow said: "I am heartened to see Hull taking such pride in its heritage with this wonderful building that marries the old with the new so well.

The Hull History Centre must be the envy of archivists everywhere, but I've been equally impressed by the way the way staff at the centre are making history exciting and accessible to people of all ages through the events and education sessions they run. Hull should be proud of this unique place."

The ceremony was also attended by Hull's new Lord Mayor, the University of Hull Vice Chancellor and a senior representative of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Lord Mayor of Kingston upon Hull and Admiral of the Humber, Cllr David Gemmell OBE said: "With his passion for history and all things maritime, we couldn't think of anyone better to mark this occasion than Dan Snow and we're delighted to welcome him in Hull today.

"As chair of the steering group at the time of selecting the design of the History Centre, I'm particularly pleased to help commemorate the opening of what is arguably the best modern building in Hull, and a great contribution to our city's built environment.

"The History Centre is a great resource for local people, and is helping to promote Hull as a cultural destination and challenge perceptions of the city."

Vice Chancellor of the University of Hull, Professor Calie Pistorius said: "This formal opening is a way of celebrating the success of the History Centre project so far and giving recognition to the large number of individuals and organisations which helped to make it possible.

"Creating a space to enable people to explore history for many different reasons was at the heart of this project, so we are pleased that members of the public will be able to enjoy this afternoon's lecture as part of the celebrations."

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and Humber, added: "It's wonderful that Hull's treasure trove of an archive has moved into a new home and has now been officially opened. The Heritage Lottery Fund is proud to have helped make this relocation possible and we congratulate both Hull's Council and its University for undertaking this ambitious project.

"The History Centre is a huge asset to the city, enabling visitors to view important documents including the city's Royal Charter and to learn more about famous local residents such as William Wilberforce, Amy Johnson and Philip Larkin."

Picture credit: Mike Park, University of Hull