2017: Open Bridges Freedom? or Freedom Withheld?  Open Bridges made history when for the first, and only time, all 13 of the bridges over the River Hull raised, swung or closed simultaneously splitting the city of Hull in two at 20:17 hours on the autumn equinox, 22nd September 2017.

2020: A River Full of Stories book of memories and photographs of life on and around the River Hull is now published and the first edition is available from all Hull & East Riding Libraries and to order from UK libraries and the British Library.

The award winning Open Bridges film made by Humber Film Creative Community recorded the night when historic vessels sailed down the river and were met by 21st century tugs, to the sound of composer John Stead’s especially commissioned new musique concrète work ‘Moments in Time’.

Watch the trailer for Open Bridges Hull UK short film with musique concrète soundtrack:

‘Open Bridges: A River Full Of Stories’ oral history project preserves and publicises the heritage of the River Hull, its bridges and vessels which have used it over the years. We have collected and recorded people’s memories of the River Hull, its bridges and the vessels which have used it over the years. With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, we have produced films, exhibition, website and a book which is available in UK libraries.

The idea for A River Full Of Stories came about when many of the 2000 visitors to the Open Bridges exhibition inside Scale Lane Bridge told us fascinating tales of their lives working on and around the river.  We wanted to capture these memories and stories and share them with future generations.

Watch the trailer for A River Full of Stories:

Elements of Open Bridges:

The River

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.

The Bridges

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.

The Vessels

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 Music

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.

Or Freedom Withheld?

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 not for profit Hull/East Yorkshire based project. Project concept, website, narrative and photography © Rich & Lou Duffy-Howard (unless otherwise stated)


River Full Of Stories dust cover.indd