2017: A momentous year for Hull and Willerby

11 January 2017

Hull has long been a uniquely proud city with a rich cultural heritage, and we’re immensely proud of our Yorkshire roots. Here’s a look back on Hull’s incredible year as City of Culture and our highlights as a local business…

There’s no doubt that Hull had a fabulous 2017. Tourism reached an all-time high, with a staggering 341,000 visitors journeying to Hull in the first week alone! Locals played a very active part in the celebrations too – in fact, in the first 3 months of the year, 90% of Hullensians had attended at least one cultural event. Here’s a roundup of our favourite events…

Our handpicked highlights of our home city’s celebrations:

  • Thousands of people stripped naked (yep, naked), painted themselves blue, and were photographed amongst the city’s landmarks by famed artist Spencer Tunick creating the ‘Sea of Hull’ – celebrating Hull’s relationship with the sea.
  • A 75-metre wind turbine blade made by Hull-based Siemens was placed in the middle of the city, requiring some pretty precise manoeuvring! ‘The blade’ was a real talking point in the city, with countless selfies taken next to it!
  • Thousands turned up to Hull’s Pride celebrations to celebrate in style. It also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the legalisation of homosexuality in this country, which made it all the more momentous.
  • The Ferens art gallery was chosen to host the world-renowned Turner Prize, one of the most famous visual arts awards. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that visits to the gallery increased by 500% over the year!
  • Hull’s much-loved New Theatre reopened after a multi-million pound refurbishment with a specially-commissioned performance from the Royal Ballet, and also featured Hull-born and bred principal dancer Xander Parish.
    Hull is fondly known within the leisure industry as the ‘Caravan Capital of the World’, with many holiday home manufacturers being based in and around the city. Willerby is the UK’s largest manufacturer of holiday homes and lodges, and we are also one of Hull’s biggest employers, with over 1100 staff employed at our 90-acre site. With a new CEO at the helm, a raft of new models, and a series of significant investments, the past year saw us propelled to new heights!

Willerby’s 2017: What we’re proud of:

  • Continued growth & investment – we’re currently on track for a fifth consecutive year of growth, and last year saw a 12.7% increase in turnover to £165m. We invested in our manufacturing facilities and we now turn out over 30 holiday homes and lodges every working day!
  • On a winning streak – we climbed 45 places in the 2017 Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 to 189, won the Business Enterprise Award in the Yorkshire Awards, and were finalists in the Large Business of the Year category of the Hull Daily Mail Business Awards!
  • New showgrounds – after the huge success of our first ever Willerby-owned showground in Scotland, we opened a second venue in Hull. It’s already proved extremely popular, with visitors travelling from across the UK, and a line-up of events and open days scheduled for 2018.
  • Willerby’s workforce – our passionate staff are the core of our business, and we’ve created over 200 new jobs this year, as well continuing our great apprentice scheme, and creating a brand-new graduate scheme. Getting social – we’ve invested in our online presence, launching a brand-new website and focusing on social media, meaning we have more direct contact and valuable feedback from our customers.
  • We got buzzy giving back – as part of our ongoing outreach program, we did our bit to help save the UK’s dwindling bumblebee population by distributing 20,000 packets of wildflower seeds and 100 handcrafted bee houses across the UK, as well educating 34 local primary schools on the plight of the bee.
    So, it’s undeniable that 2017 has been a defining year for both Hull and for Willerby. We’re determined to continue our successes and ensure that 2018 is even bigger and better – we hope you’ll be part of it!