Royal Station Hotel

Former Royal Station Hotel, Hull, now the Mercure Hull Royal Hotel

Former Royal Station Hotel, Hull, now the Mercure Hull Royal Hotel

My Humber Heritage (September 5th-9th 2016) tour has had to relocate from the Beverley Arms Hotel, which has ceased trading, to the Mercure Hull Royal Hotel, which has the advantage of being literally across the platform from the trains:  http://www.mikehigginbottominterestingtimes.co.uk/?page_id=4223.

This splendid traditional station hotel was completed in 1849, designed by George Townsend Andrews (1804-1855), house architect for the York & North Midland Railway, as part of the second terminal station into the centre of Hull, replacing an earlier station adjacent to the Humber Dock which then became a goods depot:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manor_House_Street_railway_station#/media/File:Railway_Street_Goods_shed_1905.jpg.

Andrews was also responsible for the original York railway station (1841) and other surviving stations including Whitby, Pickering and Beverley.

The new station was named Hull Paragon because it stood on Paragon Street, which was itself apparently named after a long-vanished pub.  Hull people thought it grossly over-ambitious and called it “Hudson’s Folly”:  the “Railway King” George Hudson was indeed guilty of more than folly, but his station and hotel remain in use, and both have been repeatedly extended.

Andrews’ career as a railway architect seems to have been eclipsed when George Hudson was disgraced for his unscrupulous financial dealings, and the Hull hotel was his final major commission.  At the time it opened it was the largest station hotel in the country, and Andrews’ largest building.

It became the Royal Station Hotel after Queen Victoria’s visit in October 1854, for which a throne room was contrived at the south-east corner of the first floor, along with a bedroom, drawing room and boudoir, and a bedroom and drawing room for the royal children.  The royal household lodged on the second floor.

The following morning she greeted an assembly of Sunday School pupils from the balcony, and then processed through the Old Town to the Corporation Pier, which was renamed the Victoria Pier, and boarded a launch to inspect the docks.

Additional wings to the hotel were designed by the North Eastern Railway’s company architect, the York-born William Bell (1844-1919) and constructed in 1903-5.  Both the station and the hotel were damaged in air raids in both the First and Second World Wars.

The Hull poet Philip Larkin, whose statue by Martin Jennings is on the concourse, found it a gloomy place in 1966 [http://www.poetryconnection.net/poets/Philip_Larkin/4774] though he was apparently a regular customer.

The interior of the present-day hotel is mostly a tasteful pastiche by the Fisher Hollingsworth Partnership, following a fire which gutted the building in 1990:  http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/remembering-drama-hull-royal-station-hotel-25/story-27933477-detail/story.html.  The hotel reopened in 1992 and has traded happily ever after.

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