CT Consults
15 February 2024

Humber – good timing, big opportunity

Industrial cathedrals of a new global future

It’s clear the Humber suffers from a perception lag. But the opportunity is enormous, exponential, vast – and urgent. Humber’s role in transitioning the UK – and the world – into a new reality is critical. The challenge lies in articulating that in a powerful, united message. 

Last week, Andrew and Amy joined clients Future Humber and consortium partners HemingwayDesign and Pace Communications for a charrette and think tank event.

Future Humber has commissioned the consortium to develop a place brand for the region, to help drive strategic and inward investment, and to deliver a united voice.

Siemens Gamesa factory

The charrette began with a tour of the Siemens Gamesa factory, which manufactures offshore wind turbine blades. The sheer scale of the operation is hard to communicate, or capture in photos (if you were allowed to take pictures on the factory floor) – but imagine the choreography of a production line working 24/7, 51 weeks of the year, to create blades with a rotor diameter of 236m. That’s longer than 21 London buses in old money. Truly mind-boggling.

We met with representatives from the Humber energy cluster, which is genuinely world leading in offshore wind, clean chemicals, green steel production, carbon capture and the rapidly expanding hydrogen economy. The Humber region is tackling global issues on a global scale, and needs to rapidly expand both operations and recruitment to lead the decarbonisation of the UK. 

Hull City Council representatives took us on a walking tour of the city, pointing out developments such as the Fruitmarket. The 2017 UK City of Culture legacy has led to the Maritime City programme, which has raised over £25m to redevelop museums and historic sites and better tell the story of Hull’s maritime history. 

A pit stop in Goole to learn about how the Humber Freeport is leading to expansion of the Enterprise Zones and attracting new businesses to locate there, was followed by a walking tour of Beverley from the fab tour guide Paul Schofield. Paul showed us the quirks of the town, including a public art trail depicting the mediaeval guilds.

Day two we crossed the iconic Humber bridge. We looked at Scunthorpe’s regeneration, such as the revamped St John’s Church which will enable the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre to incorporate a science and discovery centre. A working lunch about developments on the North Bank was followed by a bus tour of Immingham and Grimsby ports. The monumental scale of trade was difficult to comprehend. As Britain’s largest port, Immingham’s ‘industrial cathedrals’ to steel, cement, and containers dominated the flat landscape. Import and export cars filled the view horizon-to-horizon. Immingham handles around 0.8 million vehicles every year.  

Made Great in Grimsby

Over in Grimsby, we toured the docks to see where over 70% of the UK’s fish is processed, arriving daily from across the world. Grimsby’s famous smoked haddock has Geographical Indicator status, and the ‘Made Great in Grimsby’ campaign has brought the cluster together to tackle big issues such as decarbonisation, and has also been adopted by the Football Club. It’s also home to the offshore wind maintenance fleet – where engineers have to abseil down the blades to conduct repairs. 

On Thursday, we were joined by almost 100 VIPs Bondholders for Future Humber’s Think Tank. Andrew led a presentation explaining the consortium’s approach to place branding: that actions speak louder than words; that logos and campaigns create temporary buzz but little long-term impact; that places must be underpinned by values shared by all stakeholders in a region; and that those values must be credible, authentic and aspirational. Amy crowd-sourced perceptions of Humber now, its assets and aspirations for the future. 

They were joined on stage by leading regional stakeholders Nina Stobart (Phillips 66) and Anja Hazebroek (NHS) for a panel Q&A, about the opportunity and timeliness of the region working collaboratively to advocate for a better deal. 

Good timing, big opportunity. Humber.


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