Hull’s high street has seen plenty of big names come and go over the years.
The city’s high street, much like any other, has typically been a magnet for visitors keen to try on clothes, thumb through books and CDs or hunt for special wares. But since Hull, the UK and much of the world plunged into the economic malaise following the 2008 recession, many of the city’s once thriving stores have closed for good.
The decade which followed saw the rise of internet retailers like Amazon, and ASOS claimed further high street casualties, pushing out brands unable to offer the convenience of online shopping. And the coronavirus pandemic which began in March 2020 has only piled on more pressure.
Shops from small independents to big brands were shuttered during lockdowns, leaving many struggling to hang on or unable to survive. The Government unveiled plans in its Queen’s Speech this week to try and reverse the trend.
Ministers plan to offer councils beefed up powers to force commercial landlords to rent out units empty for more than a year. Overhauls to strengthen the Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) system, which allows local authorities to buy property without owners’ consent, have also been proposed.
It comes as figures from the British Retail Consortium showed one in seven shop fronts are empty across the UK. And a survey from Property Inspect in December found Hull had the highest rate of empty shops in the UK, at 26.47 per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 6.17.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the proposals, coming as part of the Leveling Up and Regeneration Bill, would breathe life back into high streets. Mr Johnson said: “High streets up and down the country have long been blighted by derelict shopfronts, because they’ve been neglected, stripping opportunity from local areas.
“We are putting that right by placing power back in the hands of local leaders and the community so our towns can be rejuvenated, leveling up opportunity and restoring neighborhood pride.” In light of the proposals, here are some of the big names which have left Hull’s high streets and what, if anything, has replaced them.
While some have been given a new lease of life, others remain empty with questions over who can take over some of the larger former department stores.
Mascarade was open in Paragon Street close to Hull City Hall for five years, after moving from its previous Holderness Road location in 2015. The fancy dress shop once featured mannequins wearing spooky and flamboyant costumes in its windows and was a go-to for people looking for costumes.
The business survived the first coronavirus lockdown although it was forced to close along with others on the high street in line with Government rules. But owner Joanna Martyn closed Mascarade for good in October 2020 after the then rule of six on gatherings stopped Halloween parties, cutting off a key source of earnings.
The Paragon Street unit once home to the shop still stands empty.
House of Fraser
House of Fraser once stood on the corner of Paragon Square opposite Hull’s railway and bus station. The building it occupied first opened in May 1952 as the Hammonds department store.
The House of Fraser chain later moved in but the prospect of closure first loomed in 2018 after the company announced it was shutting several stores across the UK. It came close to being saved after Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley mounted a successful takeover bid, but finally closed in July 2019 with the loss of 81 jobs.
But the building has been given a new lease of life as the Hammonds of Hull food and shopping outlet which opened just before Christmas last year.
The fish and chip restaurant and takeaway was the home of the Hull Pattie and the Carver family food food for decades. The business first opened in King Street after the Carvers started selling food at Hull Fair in the 1920s, before moving to Trinity House Lane.
The restaurant survived the death of Bob Carver in May 2018, with his wife Carol taking the helm after he passed away. But it never reopened after the prime minister ordered non-essential shops to close in March 2020.
Mr Carver’s son Bob runs a takeaway on Chapel Street but the business is separate to that which operated out of Trinity House Lane. The shop remains empty but still features its original branding.
Jameson Street’s Sainsbury’s Local store closed in January following a company review of its stores. A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said at the time that the decision to shut the shop was down to a range of factors.
Customers wanting Sainsbury’s products were advised to go to its Local stores on Princes Avenue and Chanterlands Avenue west of the city center. But the unit was snapped up by grocers SimpyFresh and its take over of the Jameson Street store marked its first foray into Hull as SimplyLocal.
SimplyFresh’s website states that it aims to sell local and British-made products as well as a range of branded goods, pitching itself as ‘Your Neighborhood Store’.
One of the mainstays of any high street, Woolworths’ King Edward Street store was once among more than 800 operating across the UK. The business, known affectionately as Woolies, began in Liverpool in 1909 and was once a one-stop-shop for children’s toys, clothes, video consoles and games and its famous pick n ‘mixes.
But it was an early casualty of the recession which followed the onset of the 2008 financial crisis, with its last stores closing in January 2009. Part of the former King Edward Street Woolworths later became a PoundWorld which has also since closed.
The shop now stands empty but the signage of both Woolworths and PoundWorld is still visible today.
The trendy clothing outlet once occupied two floors in Hull’s St Stephens shopping center which included its Topman men’s range. But the store closed after its owners Arcadia went bust in December 2020, with online retailer ASOS buying Topshop and other brands and moving them online the following February.
Its demise allowed another chain to move in, with shoppers queuing up to get into The Vintage Store when it first opened in April. The Vintage Store’s opening in the former Topshop followed a successful stint in a former Lloyds Bank branch in Chapel Street.
Shoppers can visit the store and buy vintage and retro style clothes by the kilo. The Vintage Store’s opening in Hull follows its move into York and there were plans to expand into Liverpool, Nottingham, Leeds and London.
The Debenhams department store had a presence in Hull for almost 70 years. Its Prospect Street store opened for the final time in May 2021 after the business collapsed the previous year while reeling from the effect of coronavirus closures.
A clearance sale held in its last days in Hull saw shoppers able to bag items at up to 80 per cent off the retail price. But renters have been less eager to move into the store itself and it remains empty, complete with its Debenhams branding.
Oakwood Dog Rescue moved into its new premises on the corner of King Edward Street earlier this year, opening its second charity shop in March. The shop was previously a pawnbrokers and the three golden balls which signified its former use still remained above the charity shop immediately following its opening.
Volunteer Gemma Catchpole said sales from the shop would make a massive difference to the dogs the charity helps. She said: “The donations are already in and we’re just making the finishing touches to the inside. We’ve had some doodle art done on the windows and it’s looking really good.”