"I genuinely consider that this project has the potential to be regarded as one of the most characterful and unique new public buildings in Britain"

- Sir Terry Farrell, chief architect for The Deep project

The Deep is forty-five million pounds worth of glass and aluminum, housing one of the most ambitious aquarium projects in the world. An aquarium to the public and a marine research project behind closed doors, The Deep is encased in a very modern design; spiked and curved all at once, in a shape that thrusts out into the confluence of the River Hull and the River Humber at the point known locally as Sammy's Point. The Deep was conceived as part of the ongoing regeneration of Hull's city centre, both as a tourist attraction, a work of modern architectural art, and as a charity organisation for the preservation and understanding of the world's oceans.

The exact positioning of the stunning building was an easy choice for planners to make. Sammy's Point has long been an important area in Hull's naval history as a busy port. In 1543 Henry VIII built a castle there, followed by Charles II's 1681 improvement - a huge Citadel for defense and co-ordination of military action. In 1864, the land was reused for dock buildings, and eventually, in 1857 one mister Martin Samuelson set up a shipyard on the land, and gave the area it's unofficial name - Sammy's Point. By the 1980's, with Hull no longer a major port, it was used as a buoy depot, before it was finally acquired as the site for major redevelopment as The Deep - a huge, semi-subterranean aquarium and marine research centre.

The building of The Deep

In April 1999, Sammy's Point was a semi-derelict brown field site with not a lot going for it. With no other plans for the land, EMIH Limited (a charity set up jointly by Hull City Council and the University of Hull to promote and lead the regeneration of Hull as a "dynamic European Maritime City") purchased the land with funding and support from the Millennium Commission, commissioned a building design from Terry Farrell, and started work. Two years later and several million pounds over budget, The Deep finally opened it's doors to the general public on 23 March, 2002.

Whilst men with big diggers and bits of scaffolding were actually building The Deep, Dr David Gibson, the head curator of the entire project was out, trekking all over the globe looking for suppliers of all the species intended for the aquarium. Once a suitable (sustainable) supply was found, the fish were transported to a top-secret quarantine location, to ensure no disease was introduced to the closed system of the building. After months of observation and testing, in November 2001, the fish started to be moved to their new homes. All of the tanks in The Deep use standard tap water, which is purified, and then an artificial sea salt mixture is added as required. It took three days to fill all the tanks and get the water to the correct temperatures for all the different species of fish.

The Deep experience

Seeing The Deep from the outside is quite amazing. Depending on your views on modern architecture, you may disagree, but I think it looks great. Huge swathes of glass glint in the sun and reflect on the water, and the inside is just as impressive: everything is clean and slick and smooth, and the depth of water is amazing. The water, you see, is what marks The Deep out from other aquariums around the world. Instead of separate tanks for separate ocean dwellers, The Deep consists of one main tank, several meters deep, and the majority of the creatures coexist therein, just as they would in the wild. There are some divisions within, to stop the more toothy fishies getting too friendly with some of the more endangered species, and some separate exhibits, but for the main part, there is just one expanse of water.

The effect is quite different to most aquariums: you start at the top, and descend down into the murky waters below, in a lift. Yes, an underwater lift that travels ten meters below sea level, leaving you in the deepest viewing tunnel in Europe, with sharks circling around you. It's like being in a James Bond plot device, and quite an amazing experience. As with all museums nowadays there are things to read and learn, and the obligatory "hands on" fun for the kids, but sometimes the most fun comes from just pointing at a fish with an amusing shaped head and saying "eeeeew"!

As well as the main deep tank, there are a number of other exhibits, tanks and projects open to the public. You can see tropical fish, fish from the North Sea, sharks, all kinds of coral, seahorses, little things hiding in shells, gliding stringrays and all sorts of tentacled and aquatic creatures. In fact, there are so many marine animals spread across so many tanks, that The Deep is the only aquarium in the UK to employ a specialist science officer to make sure they all get fed the correct foods - and that they don't eat each other too often!

"This collaboration with The Deep represents a great opportunity for us to share experiences, and to bring our science to a much wider audience."
- Dr Murray Roberts, research team leader for the Scottish Association for Marine Science

While The Deep is an aquarium open to the public, it is also a "an environmental and educational charity dedicated to understanding and protecting the world's oceans". This end, they have worked with marine biologists and other boffin types from around the world to help with the breeding and preservation of endangered species. For example, this year The Deep is working with the Scottish Association for Marine Science to research and help a variety cold water coral, Lophelia pertusa, which is under threat from deep water trawling.

How to get to The Deep

The Deep is located pretty much in the town center of Hull, England. Hull is a reasonably easily accessed city, with links via road and rail, so getting there shouldn't be a problem.

By bus, rail and foot:
Arrive at Paragon Station, Hull's only train station, and then:
  • If you're a healthy chap, walk. It's not that far. Leave the station and cross the road toward Debenhams. From then on, you should be able to see pedestrian signs dotted around, pointing the way. The Hull Navigators are also good for giving directions and looking stupid in bright yellow fluorescent jackets.
  • Catch a number 90 bus. It leaves from the bus station (which is directly adjacent to the train station, handily enough) every twenty minutes, and will drop you off on the pedestrian bridge opposite The Deep.
  • Get a taxi. There's always some outside the train station, obviously. It'll cost you about £3.50 to get there, with banter from the taxi driver at no added cost.
By car, motorcycle, tractor or unicycle
I'll assume you're not coming from somewhere else in Hull, but another town in the UK. If you're from Hull, you should know where you're going by now.
  • Head for Hull, or the Humber Bridge and then Hull if you're coming from the south. As soon as the town centre is signposted, head there. Before you get into the city centre, there are signposts for The Deep to follow. Really, it's well signposted. You won't have a problem.
As an added bonus, if you're planning on visiting The Deep, send me a /msg, as Hull is my hometown, and you might get yours truly as a guide! How cool would that be?!

Admission times, fees, and contacting The Deep

If you're planning on visiting The Deep, you should probably check the opening hours and admission fees in advance. At the time of writing, an adult ticket cost £6.75, a child's £4.75, with the visitor's centre open from 10am until 4pm. As an up-to-date tourist attraction, The Deep is well equipped for disabled access, the hard of hearing and blind, with both signers and guide dogs available on request. Children are obviously very welcome, so if you don't like children much, I'd advise a visit during term time!

You can get in touch with the people at The Deep by snail mail, email, telephone, fax, or via their funky blue website. They're a well connected group of people:

The Deep,
Kingston upon Hull,
Telephone: (+44) 01482 381000
      Fax: (+44) 01482 381010
    Email: info@thedeep.co.uk
      Web: http://www.thedeep.co.uk

Resources and Bibliography

  • Visit The Deep
  • buffcorePhil's own photos from The Deep
    There's a small gallery of photos my father took during a visit to the deep here: (updated!)
  • River Humber dot com: The Merchants of Hull
  • House of Commons: Culture, Media and Sport: The Deep Millennium Project
  • The Deep promotion leaflets and junk mail
    Free with some editions of The Hull Daily Mail and from the City Information Service.

Created as part of wertperch's UK tourism quest.
Everything Quests: Places to visit in Ireland and the UK » A Tourist Guide to Northeast England