Jack Harrison Documentary Assignment- Article

The name of John ‘Jack’ Harrison is synonimous with the history of Hull as a hero in two very different elements which still resonate today with the people of Hull and beyond.

Jack was born on 12 November 1890, he was the fourth of seven born to John and Charlotte Harrison and lived his early life in Williamson Street and Newbridge Road, close to Hull KR’s home ground on Craven Street.

His father was a plater and boilermaker at Earle’s Shipyard so Jack came from a very humble background, but his parents worked very hard to give him the best start in life they could, at the time when university places were the almost exclusive right of the wealthy they worked hard enough to get him a place at what is now York St. John University.

Whilst he was in York Jack trained to be a teacher and also represented his college at Swimming, Cricket and also in Rugby League for which he had exceptional talent.

Jack signed amateur forms to play for York Rugby League club and he appeared in five games for them and scored three tries in the process.

Jack qualified as a teacher in 1912 and returned to his hometown when he gained a post as a teacher at Lime Street School, when he returned everyone expected him to sign for Hull KR because of his East Hull roots and the fact that his father had supported them and indeed York had occasion to believe that Rovers had made a dodgy approach to sign him while he was playing for them but Jack said they had approached him before he ever turned out for York.

In a surprising move Jack opted to sign for the black and white side of Hull and made his debut for Hull FC in September 1912, he went on to score 17 tries in 29 games in his first season at The Boulevard.

The 1913-14 season was a triumphant one for Jack and the team as they achieved what the team had been built for and won the most famous competition in World Rugby League the Challenge Cup. Hull, who had a few years before become the first team ever to lose three consecutive Challenge Cup Finals, beat Wakefield Trinity 6-0 in the final at Thrum Hall, Halifax, and it was Jack who scored the decisive second try to wrap up the victory.

On 1 September 1914 Jack married his sweetheart Lillian Ellis and they set up home in Wharncliffe Street, Chanterlands Avenue, married life obviously suited him as he then went on to score the club record of 52 tries in the 1914-15 season, a record which still stands to this day.

Of course by the end of that season World War 1 was raging all over Europe and on 4th November 1915 Jack signed up for the East Yorkshire regiment and was sent for officer training at Inns of Court Officer Training Corps and was subsequently commissioned as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant.

On 25th March 1917 Jack became a war hero by leading a patrol in No Man’s Land and capturing a prisoner and, for setting an outstanding example, he was awarded the Military Cross, the citation for it reads: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He handled his platoon with great courage and skill, reached his objective under the most trying conditions and captured a prisoner. He set a splendid example throughout.

Jack was tragically killed at Oppy Wood in northern France on 3 May 1917 ina show of extreme bravery to try and save the lives of the men of his platoon as they were held down by heavy machine-gun fire, for his bravery and self-sacrifice he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the citation for this award says:

For the most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice in an attack. Owing to darkness and to smoke from the enemy barrage and from our own, and to the fact that our objective was in a dark wood, it was impossible to see when our barrage had lifted off the enemy front line. Nevertheless 2nd lieutenant John Harrison led his company against the enemy trench and under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, but was repulsed. Re-organising his command as best he could in No Man’s Land, he again attacked in darkness, under heavy fire, but with no success. Then turning round, this gallant officer single-handed made a dash at the machine-gun hoping to knock-out the gun and so save the lives of many of his company. His self-sacrifice and absolute disregard of danger was an inspiring example to all. He is reported missing; presumed dead.

There is a memorial to him outside the KC Stadium but some people are now calling for his memory to be honoured in the form of a statue at the Cenotaph in Hull City Centre

wpid-wp-1447186907574.jpeg Jack Harrison 1 Jack Harrison 2

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Indoor Market Trader Expects Benefits From Town Centre Regeneration

A trader in Hull’s Trinity Indoor Market believes the market can benefit from the regeneration work currently taking place in the City Centre.

Hull City Centre is currently benefitting from a £25M regeneration in preparation for the 2017 City of Culture celebrations.

Ian Rigg of Hull Prints says that the work could help increase footfall in both the New Town and Old Town areas as Hull starts gearing up for its year in the spotlight.

Mr Rigg said: “I think it’s very easy and unfair to blame the council for the problems in the city centre.

“St. Stephen’s is also a bit of a scapegoat which is unfair because all city centres have shopping centres in them and they manage.”

Speaking about what is needed to help increase footfall in the indoor market he said that it needs more unique bespoke stalls.

“We do ok here because we’re a bit of a unique stall because you can’t get these prints anywhere else.

“The record stall Spin It next door also does well because that’s something of a unique stall,” he continued.

Another issue market traders have previously raised is that many people knew it as a food court and maybe didn’t realize what an eclectic mix it has.

Mr Rigg also said: “We need more footfall and more people wanting to spend money, the regeneration outside can maybe also give the area a bit of the wow factor to attract more people.”

Paul Smith Talks About Middle Child’s Mercury Fur Production

Hull-based Middle Child Theatre Company are taking on a formerly controversial production originally written by Philip Ridley and giving it a new location on the 10th anniversary of its original release.

The play, which premiered in 2005 at Plymouth Theatre Royal before moving on to Menier Chocolate Factory in London, has for the first time been given a northern setting in unit 15 of the abandoned Lowgate Centre in Hull City Centre.

Middle Child’s effervescent artistic director Paul Smith took time out from rehearsals to tell me about this risky production which centers around a post-apocalyptic version of Hull, as opposed to London’s East End where it was originally set.

He said: “We wanted to take on something really challenging. It’s a bit like 28 Days Later meets This Is England and Mad Max.

“We want it to be very intense and immersive, we picked the building we’re in because not being surrounded by a theatre means we have more space to work in.”

Middle Child regular actor Marc Graham is currently acting in sensational Hull Truck production of Dancing Through the Shadows so I asked if he’s being missed, Paul replied: “No not really, Marc is a fantastic actor but we’re quite a big company so we’re used to people coming in and dropping out and we’re all just thrilled for Marc to be working at Truck.”

Getting back to the matter in hand Paul says: “We really want to challenge audiences with this one, it’s the first time it’s been set away from the South of England, it’s very sight specific so it will feel very relevant to the people of Hull for sure.

“We want to stimulate debate and this piece is perfect for that because it’s so controversial and it really forces engagement and asks a lot of questions.”

Sitting in the actual venue where this challenging, multi-faceted piece of theatre is going to be happening it’s difficult to believe that come next Wednesday it’s going to double as a theatrical space, but at the same time considering the setting of the production it is also in seemingly a perfect state to communicate it as everyday items like chairs, food and drink containers and bits of paper are strewn around us and adorn the walls.

Although the performance will be set in this one room at the very top of the high building the rest of the venue is going to be made into an immersive experience so the audience will be ready for the action once it starts.

Middle Child have also brought in 10-year-old actor Charlie Thompson to play the part of the character known as ‘The Party Piece’ who is a child that has been kidnapped by central characters Elliot and Darren who, along with their gang, live on their wits in this world of degenerates who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Tickets are £12 OTD or £10 in advance and can be purchased at https://thelittleboxoffice.com/middlechild

They are also giving offers of ‘Pay What You Want Wednesday’s or if you book in a group of 5 or more each ticket will only cost £5.

The show runs from 14 to 24 October although there are none on the 18th and 19th, there will also be a Saturday Matinee performance on the 17th.

There is a talk back with original writer Philip Ridley after the performance on Thursday 15th October and if you go and see the show on either of the Saturday’s you will get £2 off entry into Welly that night.

Middle Child 4 Middle Child 3 Middle Child 6

Dancing Through the Shadows- Review

If there is a better show at Hull Truck Theatre in the coming months, even years, I would very much like to see it. This latest Hull truck production, written by the masterly Richard Vergette is an absolute masterpiece in every sense of the word.

A superb cast of Laura Aramayo, Marc Graham, Christine Mackie, John Elkington and Jim English make this an absolute must-see treat of epic proportions.

Beautiful direction from Mark Babych and wonderful set and costume design from Dawn Allsopp just add to the grandness of this visually stunning story.

The effervescent opening with Neville Chaimberlain claiming ‘Peace In Our Time’ in September 1938 sees the cleverly written start of the budding relationship between Sylvia (Aramayo) and Tom (Graham) as they celebrate the good news that everybody at that time had been hoping for.

The relationship between the two young lovers is beautifully and masterfully developed early on and then of course came the moment of the declaration of war with Germany and suddenly the whole dynamic was changed as if the stage was balanced on a sixpence.

The music in the background set the tone absolutely expertly and the story became a genuine roller coaster of emotions and huge respect, not only for the full cast which included a community ensemble, but also as we were given a ride through it, for the people who lived through this most awful part of Hull’s history.

But along with the very powerful heart rending moments there was also some fun and comedy on offer that just lifted the mood in the auditorium and set people giggling. The class divide between Hessle and Hessle Road is also perfectly acted as rich (Tom, Grace and Gilbert) are brought together with rough and ready (Sylvia, Maurice and David) by the now blossoming relationship and the destruction of World War 2.

The part of Brian (also played by Graham) is perfectly pitched as the wide boy looter and black market Spiv, just adding to the character that the production exudes. John Elkington gives a wonderful performance as both Maurice and Gilbert, he and Graham seemingly handle playing two roll’s with great poise and minimal effort, a true indication of their prowess.

The desperation of war is superbly established and extremely effectively communicated, no more so than when Hull is hit by a stray bomb after the all clear has sounded, killing a young mother and her baby despite Maurice’s attempts to save them.

The interval is also perfectly timed leaving a big cliffhanger caused by the blitz of 7 May 1941 when Hull City Centre was virtually flattened.

You barely have a moment to settle back into your seat before you are shocked with the opening to the 2nd half beginning where the 1st half left off.

There is a big change in the emotional state on stage after the interval and it’s not just caused by David signing up and going off to fight, but once again the hopelessness of war is very well expressed and the occasional one-liner from either Sylvia or Grace does just nicely lift the mood again.

The way the set is designed and the sound effects of the bombing give you a sense of what it must have been like to live through this tragic period as you are left emotionally tested while always hoping for the best for the characters who you really identify with and develop feelings and emotions as powerful as a speedboat on the Humber Estuary.

The characters are thoroughly believable and lovable all at the same time and the ensemble cast are not just merely there to make up the numbers they are there as an essential part of the storyline and used to great affect by the director.

After the literally heart-wrenching moment of an incident caused by the war, particularly on the Normandy Beaches on D-Day, there is genuine shock and bewilderment, followed by some harsh words which then eventually give way to thankfulness.

After the abject failure of the BBC to include this ‘North-East Coast Town’ in its recent series about Blitz Cities, Hull now has a very proud answer to that snobbish failure, the next UK City of Culture can be outstandingly proud of its traditionally iconic theatre that was founded by Mike Bradwell almost out of protest.

After the performance Marc Graham said: “It’s a really good cast, they’re lovely to work with.

“The ensemble cast are older members of the youth theatre here so they really know what they’re doing as well.”

Speaking about playing two characters, including a lead, he said: “I loved it… It was really great to be able to tap into the two characters, Brian is obviously the secondary character who is quite a wide boy, while Tom really gets down and serious.

“With the injury that Brian suffers I just kind of thought about how would somebody like that react to losing something like a leg.”

Speaking about working on this particular project with Laura Aramayo he said: “It’s great to be able to work with her on something like this, I’ve worked with her before but only on small stuff so to work with her on this, with the run it’s having is great.

“We had a good talk before about what our characters are going to do and what it would be like for them and of course with the class divide which was a real struggle and still is a real struggle unfortunately.”

I then spoke to the writer Richard Vergette about this premiere performance after the three previews last week.

He was obviously very happy with how it had gone, saying: “We let it go tonight and it seemed to go well and the audience response was very enthusiastic so yes I’m a very happy man and a relieved man tonight.

He then spoke about his delight at how the cast had handled the story: “I think it’s really important that when you’re working with a company on a piece that is as emotionally intense as this is that you’ve got a group of people who are willing to invest themselves as enthusiastically and passionately as they did.

“I’m absolutely delighted at the way that the actors have responded to the challenges of the piece.”

Talking about the community ensemble who are involved he said: “I didn’t realise when I wrote it that the community would be involved but I’m delighted with them.

“They’re a real bonus and they are a very important part of it not just an add on.”

Clearly enjoying talking about the production he then said: “This play is about Hull, for Hull and it’s about one of the most desperate times in its history, which largely the population is not aware of.

“They don’t know that this was the most bombed city outside of London, 1200 people perished, 3000 were injured or maimed 90-95% of houses were destroyed or damaged at least once and that the city re-grouped and re-found itself is a testament to its courage and its ability to take care of each other.”

It is a play for Hull but the writer would also like to see it go outside Hull because “The themes are universal and people maybe don’t realise what a part Hull played in the war.”

You can buy tickets in the box office at the theatre on Ferensway, on 01482 323638 or online at http://www.hulltruck.co.uk/book-tickets/buy-online

The show runs until Saturday 24th October

Sanction Now, Ask Questions Later

Sanction Now, Ask Questions Later Attitude Leaving More People Homeless!

More and more people are being left homeless because of having their benefits sanctioned for petty reasons according to Hull East MP Karl Turner and staff at The Warren in Hull City Centre.

“People are being left without benefits because they’re being sanctioned for the most petty reasons since this government came in,” Said Mr Turner.

Attending a public meeting hosted by JJ Tatten, manager, at The Warren Mr Turner was given many tales of woe by young benefit claimants who have either had, or been threatened with, benefits sanctions.

Reasons for sanctions being imposed included, being at a funeral, being at job interviews, being on work placements, one young lady even got sanctioned because she failed to sign on when she went into labour at the job centre.

Christian Wilding and Craig McDade also had their benefits sanctioned and ended up having to ask for financial support elsewhere until their benefits were reinstated.

Other people at the meeting told about how it takes four weeks for an application for hardship payments to go through and, until then, they don’t have any money for food or paying bills.

Another knock on effect of having benefits sanctioned means that the persons housing and council tax benefit is also removed automatically so they are left owing massive rent arrears which then results in eviction.

Hardship payments also vary between benefits, a person claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) gets £28 a week on hardship whilst a person on Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) gets £35 a week.

Before the start of the meeting Mr Tatten said he even knew of a case of a former soldier in his 60s having his benefits sanctioned because he was selling poppies for the Royal British Legion.

During the discussions Mr Turner said about how an MP for Wigan was having a debate in the House of Commons about benefits sanctions for petty reasons, like people being 2 or 3 minutes late to sign on, and the MP who was supposed to respond to her questions was actually 5 minutes late for the debate.

Counsellor Julie Chapman from The Warren said, “Sanctions on benefits are more frequent now, in fact they’ve more than doubled since this government came to power.

“Homelessness as a result of benefits sanctions has almost normalised now with lots of people now also sofa surfing

She also said, “Sanctions put a huge strain on families and impacts on mental health and also leads to food poverty,”

After the public meeting I attended a soup kitchen organised by Hull Homeless Outreach at St. Mary’s Church in Lowgate and spoke to Sarah Hemingway who volunteers there.

“Hull Homeless Outreach opened a food bank a few weeks ago and we feed 37 people on average there, at one point a woman turned up with four kids and her partner and they were expected to live on £38 a week.

She also said, “I want to know how many more austerity cuts are they going to agree on that could prevent a lot of this?”

In total 50 people came to the soup kitchen looking for food and drink.

Mr Turner also said, “We are trying to get some corporate sponsorship to keep Dock House open past the end of this month but I can’t promise anything yet,”

Asked why it is being forced to close again Mr Turner replied “Because central government has taken £150 Million away from the Hull City Council budget.

“Cameron’s Oxfordshire constituency has had a 2% rise in its funding, Hull has had a 10% cut in funding,” He continued.