There are many buildings in Hull whose walls echo with stories of the city’s past. Evolving over time as they are inhabited by new generations of people, these buildings each have important and interesting tales to tell. Whether they are homes or businesses, each have played a part in forming the city as we know it today. These buildings are Hull.
One such building of genuine significance is the Annison Building in Witham, so called as it was built for the Annison family in the late 1800’s. The unique building, which has Victorian stables on the upper first floor and originally housed shop units, a blacksmiths, courtyard and storage barns is today a working pharmacy and unique artistic venue.
While the combination of pharmacy business and arts venue may not be an obvious one, when you see the space for yourself it makes perfect sense. The pharmacy has occupied the building for the past eight years and are pivotal in keeping the history and legacy of the iconic address alive. With just four of the original eight shop units taken up by the business, other spaces are rented out as meeting rooms for charity groups or utilized as exhibition space.
Currently the building is home to work by a number of local artists whose paintings are displayed in the large old hayloft. For many people visiting the building hoping to discover more about its history, the ramps used by the horses to ascend to the upper floors are the main point of interest, such is their unique nature. In recent months the spacious hayloft has been used to exhibit fashion and photography by local students from Park Street College and will soon be home to an art and poetry exhibition by the Action For Hull group, themed around the LordLine Building.
The building, which has in the past been a Catholic block house, the home of the city’s mounted police and a funeral parlour, is being prepared for September when it will be opened up for three days as part of the Heritage Open Days, starting Thursday September 10th and ending on Saturday 12th. This will be a great opportunity to discover for yourself the history of one of Hull’s most recognisable buildings and explore a wonderful gallery space that feels like nowhere else in the city.The Annison Building is usually open between 11am and 4pm on Saturdays for people to look around, although it is currently closed as they prepare for September.
The opening of the building has been organised and managed by the pharmacy team, who volunteer their own time to keep the venue open to the public. The building has received no funding towards the opening and has so far relied on money raised through donations from visitors on open days. Without the staff dedication and time the building wouldn’t be open to the public.
Visiting the building is free, although donations are welcome and will be used towards the restoration of the Annisons Cart, which was built and used on site by the family in the 1900s.
While there are many exciting new developments and projects around Hull, these valuable pieces of living history serve to remind us how Hull became the city it is today. They offer a glimpse of the past and make it accessible to people of all ages from those wanting to reminisce on days gone by to those looking to discover something new. The historic aspects of Hull should be supported and celebrated alongside the new, as we near 2017.
You can find out more on The Annison Building on their official Facebook page.