Freedom? or Freedom Withheld? #OpenBridgesHull Friday 22nd September 2017

For the first time in the city’s history all 13 of Hull’s bridges raised, swung or closed simultaneously splitting the city in two at 20:17 hours on the autumnal equinox 2017 during Hull City of Culture’s Freedom Season.

But Open Bridges is more than that. It’s a whole tapestry of threads, a celebration of the lifeblood of the city, the River Hull and its 13 bridges, all movable. Beautiful historic vessels representing three centuries mustered on the River to be met on the Humber by powerful 21st century tugs. Open Bridges is an exploration of the notion of freedom. The culmination of Open Bridges, after the reuniting of the city was the live world premiere of John Stead’s new musical work, Moments in Time in the shadow of the iconic buildings, The Deep, The Tidal Barrier, Millennium Bridge and the C4Di building, where the River Hull meets the Humber Estuary.


The River Hull, the lifeblood of the city, rises from springs in the Yorkshire Wolds and runs directly through the centre of Hull, defining East and West Hull and the culture of the city – fishing heritage west of the river and commerce to the east.


No other city has so many opening bridges over such a short distance of navigable river.  There are 13 bridges and all of them swing or lift to open to river traffic. All the bridges, road, rail or foot, allow not just small pleasure craft to pass, but commercial vessels with hundreds of tonnes of cargo.


Beautiful historic vessels representing three centuries; 18th century HMS Pickle, 19th century Humber Keel Comrade and 20th century MV Syntan mustered on the River Hull to be met on the Humber by powerful 21st century tugs from SMS Towage and Svitzer.


The world premiere of the new acousmatic composition ‘Moments in Time’ by Hull based BAFTA award winning composer John Stead was especially commissioned for Open Bridges. Electro Acoustic Ensemble director John’s new musique concrète work features found sounds recorded from Hull bridges was diffused in octophonic sound to a full house at the Stage@The Dock.


The city is united in a shared respect of Hull born politician and abolitionist William Wilberforce whose work to make slave trading illegal gave rise to Hull’s Freedom Festival and City of Culture Freedom Season. Freedom is a big part of the city but the only way to truly understand something is to experience it and the separation of Hull, East and West created citywide conversations about the meaning of freedom and the importance of Hull’s bridges.


Open Bridges workshops in schools, prison, hospice, and community venues explored freedom and the impact of withholding freedom, the freedom of movement, considering the importance of Hull’s bridges, notions of East and West and the meaning of freedom today in the world.

Open Bridges is an independent Hull based project by Duffy-Howard Music in partnership with HCC Streetscene Services taking place during the City of Culture Freedom Season.

We are delighted that every aspect of planning and delivery of Open Bridges is by people who are Hull based.

Programme Cover 1

Open Bridges is an independent Hull based project by Duffy-Howard Music taking place during the Hull City of Culture Freedom Season. It is supported by Arts Council England and Hull City Arts Fund with partnership support from Hull City Council Streetscene and project partners Malcolm Scott, John Stead, Streetscene’s Andy Burton, Pete Curry, Graham Lownsborough and Bridge Operations staff, Helen Thackeray: Hull Events, John Medland, Phil Withers, Mal Nicholson and Historic Motor and Sail, Paul Escreet: SMS Towage, Simon Lee: Svitzer (Maersk), The Humber Keel and Sloop Preservation Society, The Beverley Barge Preservation Society, Team Humber Marine Alliance, Freedom Festival’s Jenny Coombes and the Freedom Ambassadors, Hugh Jones of HPSS, C4Di, creative writers Christina Lewis and Russ Litten, photographers Piotr Korczynski and Graeme Oxby, Humber Film Creative Community and Octovision Media.

Project concept, website, narrative and photography © Rich & Lou Duffy-Howard (unless otherwise stated)


lottery_Logo_Black RGBhigh quality HCClogoblack