Hull’s seven ambitious road projects that never saw the light of day

When Talking Heads frontman David Byrne wrote Road To Nowhere, he probably wasn’t thinking of Hull.

However, the title of his group’s greatest success can certainly be applied to a handful of ambitious road projects in the city that, for one reason or another, ultimately came to nothing. Usually shelved for lack of money and, in one memorable case, too much water, they all could have changed the face of Hull as we know it today.

Although not going forward, the legacy of some of the diets can still be seen if you know what you are looking for. In other places it is more about what might have been and, in the case of historic old town Hull, what might have been lost if yesterday’s urban planners and road engineers had achieved what they wanted.

Read more: What improvements would you like to see made to public transit in Hull? Have your say

As Hull City Council put the finishing touches to a new offer of £30m government funding to improve roads and key junctions in Kingswood and to investigate a new park and ride facility in the area, we let’s take a look back at some of Hull’s most infamous roads. planes nowhere.


Today, a drive down the boulevard from Hessle Road eventually brings you to a maze of concrete pillars supporting the flyover of Anlaby Road and a narrow, winding road that takes you below called Arnold Lane. It’s an ignominious end to a course originally designed to mimic the wide, tree-lined streets of Paris.

The original plan for a spacious public promenade linking the Humber to both Hessle Road and Anlaby Road was first drawn up in 1870 by Joseph Fox Sharpe, Hull’s Board of Health surveyor. His idea was to connect the rapidly expanding northern and western suburbs by building a major thoroughfare that would also solve the area’s drainage problems.

The boulevard west of Hull

Initially it was seen as the first phase of a Parisian-style ring road encircling the city center before reaching the east bank of the Humber. Ultimately, the ring road never happened, but its ambitious legacy is still visible in Boulevard with its generous 80-foot width and eye-catching avenue of trees.

Abercrombie & Lutyens

The death of Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1944 ensured that the name of his fellow town planner, Professor Patrick Ambercrombie, became synonymous with the bold post-war plan published a year later, describing how Hull’s bomb-ravaged night will be rebuilt, with yet another bypass. as a second rail station and new satellite town to Burton Constable.

The inner city ring road proposed in the 1945 Abercrombie Plan with Wilberforce House in the background
The inner city ring road proposed in the 1945 Abercrombie Plan with Wilberforce House in the background

Their idea was to build an orbital freeway around downtown, leaving Queens Gardens, Old Town, and the Paragon Street area as a traffic-free civic and commercial district within it. Most strikingly, he planned to build a stage of the ring road along the High Street, leaving only a handful of historic buildings in the shade of an elevated section.

A lack of money and competing business interests ultimately conspired against the Abercrombie plan, although Freetown Way later largely mirrored the northern section of its orbital route, while the A63 now also mirrors the southern route.

Way of the snuff mill

There are sweeping countryside views to admire on either side of this evocatively named former footbridge linking Bricknell Avenue to Cottingham. However, things could have been very different had plans for a road here been implemented.

The entrance to Snuff Mill Lane on Bricknell Avenue
The entrance to Snuff Mill Lane on Bricknell Avenue

Today, a raised embankment on one side of the track near the Hull to Beverley railway line is the only clue to the proposed route. Covered in wild brambles and virtually inaccessible, it is actually made from the bricks and rubble removed from houses damaged by bombs during World War II.

At the time it was intended for a new road forming a bypass south of Cottingham, bringing traffic west from Bricknell Avenue to eventually join what is now the A164 between Beverley and the Humber Bridge. Again, this should never have happened.

spring bank

Set aside for possible road projects that never see the light of day, so-called degraded lands often offer a clue to what might have been. For example, an area between Spring Bank and Stanley Street is now populated by a largely wilderness mini-urban forest.

The overgrown land off Spiring Bank was once reserved for the routing of a new road
The overgrown land off Spiring Bank was once reserved for the routing of a new road

At the time of Humberside County Council the land formed part of a proposed new road linking Rawling Way and Anlaby Road to Princes Avenue at its busy junction with Spring Bank and Spring Bank West. Land ownership issues eventually sunk the idea and the final nail in the coffin came when plans were given the green light for a new Tesco store at the junction of Stanley Street and Spring Bank.

The scheme’s demise has left the Polar Bear pub stranded in splendid isolation, traffic still stuck in the narrow one-way Derringham Street and a touch of natural greenery on Spring Bank.

North and South Hotham Road

Until someone can tell me otherwise, I can only assume that Hotham Road North and Hotham Road South were originally meant to meet at some point. As it stands they probably form the most unusual split street in Hull.

South Hotham Road
Hotham Road South, West Hull

The northern section resumes just south of Bricknell Avenue, crosses it and heads straight for a junction with Cottingham Road. The southern part starts from Priory Road, crosses Wold Road and finally joins Willerby Road. In between are housing north of Priory Road, a railway line, then another footpath and a straight line bike path to Bricknell Avenue.

Was there an original plan for a single Hotham Road, with a road bridge over the railway line instead of the pedestrian bridge we have now? There is enough space between the two to suggest there was.

Ennerdale Link Path

Building a road tunnel under the River Hull seemed like a good idea when plans for the new Ennerdale Link Road were first unveiled in the mid-1980s. The road was seen as a vital piece of a vast puzzle of infrastructure assembled to pave the way for the development of what was to become Kingswood.

The Ennerdale Tunnel was supposed to pass under the River Hull, but the project was never completed.
The Ennerdale Tunnel was supposed to pass under the River Hull, but the project was never completed.

However, construction work was eventually abandoned after two years due to repeated flooding. In the end, road engineers opted for a new road bridge instead. Debris from the doomed tunnel project is still classified as a hazard to boats using the river.

Hopefully the final road lowering work in Hull is more successful. The current £355million Castle Street improvement scheme includes a section of the A63 dual carriageway lowered by seven meters at the Mytongate junction.

Route of the quays

When Siemens announced plans to build an offshore wind turbine manufacturing plant at Alexandra Dock in Hull, hopes were high that another key supply chain company could be lured in to join them on the banks of the Humber.

The port of Hull and the Saltend Chemicals Park
The port of Hull and the Saltend Chemicals Park

In particular, manufacturers of wind towers were wooed with land between the Saltend and Paull chemical works being pointed out as the ideal location. However, the big sticking point was the need for a new so-called haul road specifically designed to carry heavy materials between the site and the new Green Port Hull development at Alexandra Dock in Hull.

In the end, the estimated £18m price tag raised a question mark over who was going to foot the bill and the practicalities of building a route through an area where the existing industry was already based stood all turned out to be too high and the idea was dropped.


Elizabeth J. Harless