Bridges – a poem for Hull City of Culture

I wrote this poem to commemorate the raising of the bridges. Hull is unique. It is built on the river Hull. There are thirteen bridges connecting the two halves of the city. All thirteen can be raised. No other city in the world can do this.

As part of the City of Culture all the bridges will be raised. I wanted to celebrate this with a poem.


Hull Bridges


Hull bridges raise their hands to the sky

East and West torn apart

But the twain shall meet again.

For Hull bridges have no feet of stone

Rather limbs that reach.

No city in the world is so apart

And so together.

Apart – together – again and again

To release those that pass beneath

They raise their arms in joy.

Hull – the unique city on the river

Where every bridge does move

More like living beasts

Like the leaves of a book

Like arms that embrace

They move

They lift

They raise

They allow passage, commerce and fun.

To release those that pass above

They cross their arms

They join in a handshake that links

Two communities

Two sides

Two banks

Like no other.

Yet for one short time

They will all raise together

And the city is split

Like no other in the world.

The city parts

A hiatus

Then is joined


Hull bridges live and move

Not frozen

But alive.

No other city sports such versatility

Such elevation

Such cleaving.

No other city is split by rivers in such a way.

Across that divide

Tigers roar and robins strut

Black and white

Red and white

Black and amber

Colours joined

Into one.

One city

One people


One Hull.


Opher 5.7.2017

6 thoughts on “Bridges – a poem for Hull City of Culture

  1. This is like trick question time at the pub quizz. Coz I just happen to know there’s only 12 bridges that can be raised as the 13th bridge is permanently raised and is therefore, no longer used as a bridge.

    1. It isn’t quite that bad Anna but it is strange the way cities do divide. In Liverpool there is the Everton and Liverpool, in Manchester its United and City, In Hull it’s FC and Rovers. It is amazing how much of a division sport makes. The two sides of Hull are very different in character but they are joined by their bridges.
      The project to divide the city in two by raising all the bridges simultaneously was put together by two of my friends. I’m on the committee and we got funding. It is quite a big enterprise.

      1. Hull Kingston Rovers are a Rugby League team – a completely different game entirely. Quite how they can be compared to the rivalry of Everton/Liverpool or Man Unt/City is remarkable.

  2. Good old Hull … this brings back some fond memories. It reminds me of some of Philip Larkin’s, like this one:

    The poem

    Swerving east, from rich industrial shadows
    And traffic all night north; swerving through fields
    Too thin and thistled to be called meadows,
    And now and then a harsh-named halt, that shields
    Workmen at dawn; swerving to solitude
    Of skies and scarecrows, haystacks, hares and pheasants,
    And the widening river’s slow presence,
    The piled gold clouds, the shining gull-marked mud,

    Gathers to the surprise of a large town:
    Here domes and statues, spires and cranes cluster
    Beside grain-scattered streets, barge-crowded water,
    And residents from raw estates, brought down
    The dead straight miles by stealing flat-faced trolleys,
    Push through plate-glass swing doors to their desires –
    Cheap suits, red kitchen-ware, sharp shoes, iced lollies,
    Electric mixers, toasters, washers, driers –

    A cut-price crowd, urban yet simple, dwelling
    Where only salesmen and relations come
    Within a terminate and fishy-smelling
    Pastoral of ships up streets, the slave museum,
    Tattoo-shops, consulates, grim head-scarfed wives;
    And out beyond its mortgaged half-built edges
    Fast-shadowed wheat-fields, running high as hedges,
    Isolate villages, where removed lives

    Loneliness clarifies. Here silence stands
    Like heat. Here leaves unnoticed thicken,
    Hidden weeds flower, neglected waters quicken,
    Luminously-peopled air ascends;
    And past the poppies bluish neutral distance
    Ends the land suddenly beyond a beach
    Of shapes and shingle. Here is unfenced existence:
    Facing the sun, untalkative, out of reach.

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