2017: Open Bridges Freedom? or Freedom Withheld? 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.

2018:  ‘Open Bridges: A River Full Of Stories’ oral history project will preserve and publicise the heritage of the River Hull, its bridges and vessels which have used it over the years.

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

Open Bridges is 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 and Millennium Bridge, where the River Hull meets the Humber Estuary.

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.

Sutton Road Bridge 26.6.17

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.

Open Bridges is an independent Hull/East Yorkshire based project. Project concept, website, narrative and photography © Rich & Lou Duffy-Howard (unless otherwise stated)