Urban Pioneers!.

Coltman street is the once, and future jewel in the crown of Hull’s architectural and social history. A quick look back at the sorry state it was in at the beginning of the eighties, coupled with an understanding of the growth of the real social regeneration which is happenning now albeit slowly will make it clear that Coltman street has a very rosy future as the ‘Islington of the north’. Just as Islington rose from the ashes during the seventies and eighties to become phenomenally sought after in the ‘noughties’. Coltman street is merely a decade or two behind. It has however all the hallmarks of an area and a community set for just such a turnaround.

Location Location and Location. Yes Coltman street has all three!
it is close to a wide veriety of shops on the famous street that is Hessle road. (which is also in the middle of it’s own regeneration.) It is central but also ideally located for the journey out of town for business and pleasure trips. and lastly it has some of the most beautiful and well built Georgian to Victorian houses in Hull and this makes it second only to High street in historical importance.
The quality of these buildings should not be underestimated notwithstanding that some have been badly treated in the past by builders who didn’t understand the living ‘breathing’ nature of the victorian house and who poured concrete into many of the foundations. There are still some which retain their origional healthy suspended flooring (usually about 18 inches above street level and many with either small cellars underneath or at least service areas) and other original features.

Most importantly there is now a core community. This has taken fifteen years since the initial improvements but this is because the council made one fatal error in the improvement of the area in the eighties and that was to put too heavy an emphasis on social housing and small single occupier units. During the ‘eighties’ the press releases from the council speak of affordable housing for couples. This policy didn’t take into account that all these people were likely to be ‘itinerant’because even couples with a healthy lifestyle are likely to move on to family units in afew years. The older owner occupiers gradually moved on either by death or incapacity, and often sold out to the landlords who broke down the owner occupied into flats. There was a heavy financial incentive for them to do so. The last thing we need is for this incentive to be re-instated.

In short:- the Council, inspite of their best intentions and millions of pounds, forgot to maintain or provide for a healthy balance in the community.

The Shane George murder shook up the situation and had many negative effects on the street. However in some ways it could be seen as an accident waiting to happen. It also had an unrecognised positive effect. which was to take around ten years to show.
A Neighbourhood Watch was formed by the Police and a core of local people who had had enough. This in itself has had a positive influence on peoples former fear of crime.
The street parties started the ball rolling. People actually started saying hello to eachother! However the ‘stigma’ of Coltman street (as percieved by the rest of the city) is going to take a little longer to remove. Only a sustained delivery of positive ‘propaganda’ coupled with the changes proposed below will remove this.

From a housing perspective, after the murder, the gradual decline in uptake of new tennancies by ‘respectable’ people and the ‘trashing’ of the properties by those less socially healthy meant that many landlords were now unable to sustain their incomes and let their houses decline again. Suddenly this meant that a few properties became available at incredibly low prices which needed so much work that landlords, already under pressure found the prospect to be uneconomic.

Urban Pioneers

A few local creative but not wealthy people, as well as one or two ‘downshifters’ from other regions suddenly found the properties within their reach as cash (or cash from loans) purchases. A movement is definately underway to re-convert properties into spacious family homes. In several cases, due to the type of purchasers, these include workshops music rooms art studios etc.
My husband and I (webmistress coltmanstreet.co.uk)were among those who saw the potential and took the plunge. Since then we have become known for 'encouraging' others to do the same. (some say we're rather too evangelical about this!) Since in the north there is no squeeze on space and housing this seems to be the way forward for Coltman street if we are to reclaim and retain it for posterity.

A lady I met in New York described us as Urban Pioneers. I rather like this description!
If you have courage, energy, drive and patience and you are interested in knowing how we and other residents did this. We'll be happy to share this information and encourage you all we can. You'll have to have an almost fanatical self-build type mentality too! Your reward could be living in a large well built and comfortable home in a community which (despite all the negative press we had formerly) will welcome and care for you. Greedy property speculaters and absentee landlords need not apply, and will almost certainly be dissappointed.

A healthy community can sustain a few social problems but an area too heavily weighted towards them is doomed to failure. We have nearly got the balance right. we need just a little encouragement to go all the way. And we do not need any more absentee landlords. We must make positive efforts to put just a few more houses into owner occupation. for the health of our community.

We know we’re living in a great street In some respects it’s the best kept secret in Hull.
Long live Coltman street!

I am currently undertaking a ‘gathering’ of historical information including details about every single original building. This will also be available on the
website www.coltmanstreet.co.uk
Any snippet of historical information you have would be very much appreciated. This might include:-
Your own memories, stories you’ve been told, dates of changes, wartime information, photographs from any era,information from deeds, names of past residents (famous infamous or unknown!) etc

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