Harry Potter star Miriam Margoyles is among hundreds of people who have pledged their support for £27m plans to make Hull’s 800 years of seafaring history into an international tourist attraction.
Support has come from as far away as the US for plans, being submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund today, in the hope of securing £13.6m.
Hull Council aims to bring hundreds of thousands of extra visitors to the city by transforming its Maritime Museum and bringing the country’s last sidewinder trawler, the Arctic Corsair, to a new berth at historic dry docks on the River Hull, alongside a state-of-the-art interpretation centre.
The council, which wants to capitalise on its success hosting the year-long City of Culture arts programme in 2017, has already committed £10m and a fundraising campaign is under way to make up a £2.6m shortfall.
Around 1.2m people visit the city’s museums and art gallery every year and officials believe the new set of attractions – due to be finished by 2024 – could bring in between 300,000 and 400,000 more, injecting £3m of extra money into the economy.
In the last few days, 600 pledges have come in, including from Ms Margoyles, the English-Australian actor best known for her role as Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter movie series.
She said: “Hull was a tremendously important entry point for thousands of people. Many of my own family came to Hull from Eastern Europe.
"I’d be thrilled to support the Hull Maritime Foundation.”
Send your message of support via maritimehull.co.uk/get-involved/support-us
Another person backing the bid was a man from Howard in Illinois, who said he only discovered a few years ago that he was part of Hull’s “rich maritime history”.
He said: “My grandfather, an immigrant from Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania, passed through Hull en route to America. So many future Americans landed from the North Sea in Hull and then made the transmigration. So Hull became part of my DNA.”
The Yorkshire Post says Hull setting sail with plans to become Maritime City
The city has been hit recently by the closure of the anchor M&S store on Whitefriargate, but city manager Garry Taylor insists it is evolving to a more leisure-based economy.
He said: “We’d be wasting our money if we were focusing on retail, that world has changed.
“Ultimately this is a piece of the jigsaw, which is about transforming the city into what it used to be – a very diverse city. It kind of lost that and just became a more retail place.
“If this brings another £2m to £3m into the economy, and brings more jobs and business, what’s not to like?
"The centrepiece will be the museum, which will be an incredible venue that tells the emotional history of the city, in terms of transmigration and migration and the incredible role it has played globally.”