To celebrate the release of “The Dead Can’t Talk”, author Nick Quantrill has been talking to various bloggers about various things. Today I’m delighted to be one of the various bloggers! Nick stopped by to talk about St Andrew’s Quay and other abandoned buildings in Hull.
Without further ado, over to Nick.
As you drive east towards Hull city centre, and after passing the Humber Bridge, you’ll see a retail park to your right on St Andrew’s Quay. You’ll see a B&Q, a Pizza Hut, a McDonald’s and countless furniture stores. Slightly further on, the development thins out, a lone Chinese restaurant which has the dubious honour of being John Prescott’s favourite place to eat.
Then you see an abandoned office block, unloved and seemingly unwanted, the once proud Lord Line company name at the top of it slowly weathering away. In front it, you’ll see a dredged and overgrown dock. It’s hard to believe this is pretty much the city’s only remaining link to its deep sea trawling past.
Built shortly after World War Two, the office block and associated buildings serviced the industry until its demise in the mid-1970’s. Other buildings have been demolished and those which remain slowly rot away. Standing in front of them, away from the shops and the dual carriageway, you can’t help but imagine the stories the area could tell. It was a city within a city.
Plenty of people have called for the Lord Line building to be refurbished, possibly as a museum documenting just how important the sea has always been to Hull. Others have called for it to be used as an arts venue, Hull’s version of Newcastle’s Baltic. Unfortunately, it’s in the hands of developers few have any confidence in. The current plan is to turn it into student accommodation, despite being nowhere near the university.
Like with crime fiction, there’s more to the story, though. As much as the derelict building stands as a monument to the city’s past, it’s contested. Talk to people who worked on the trawlers, and for some, the building is a symbol of their economic slavery. Deep sea trawling was a hugely dangerous profession. It took the loss of three trawlers within the space of a month in 1968 to start changing the industry’s safety standards, an episode vividly detailed in Brian Lavery’s, “The Headscarf Revolutionaries”.
I couldn’t resist using the Lord Line building in “The Dead Can’t Talk”. It sees disillusioned police officer, Anna Stone, work with Luke Carver, an ex-Army drifter she’d once arrested. In the background of the story, a by-election is raging with the development of St Andrew’s Quay a key issue and a central debate.
More than that, it’s a great location for a crime writer. Having stood empty and unloved for decades, the inside is covered by stones, glass and bricks. Vegetation has overtaken much of it, the building crumbling underfoot. I won’t say who finds themselves inside the building, or who gets out of it alive, but I was happy to give it some kind of purpose again and briefly place it centre-stage once more. Who could resist such an opportunity?
How far will Anna Stone, a disillusioned police officer on the brink of leaving her job, go to uncover the truth about her sister’s disappearance?Approached by Luke Carver, an ex-Army drifter she’s previously sent to prison, he claims to have information which will help her. As the trail leads from Hull and the Humber’s desperate and downtrodden to its great and good, an unsolved murder twenty-five years ago places their lives in danger, leaving Stone to decide if she can really trust a man who has his own reasons for helping.