Religion: Goodbye Hell, hello Hull

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The Independent Online
The Bishop of Hull has come to the rescue of the city which is forever fixed in the national psyche as a place of terminal dullness. The Rt Rev James Jones yesterday launched a campaign designed to position Hull nearer heaven than hell.

The 17th-century vagabonds' prayer quoted by Taylor the Water poet - "From Hull, Hell and Halifax Good Lord deliver us" - has been a thorn in the city's side for hundreds of years. During this period in history, beggars avoided Hull because they had little chance of getting anything without doing hard labour and anyone caught stealing cloth was beheaded.

Research revealed that the city suffers from an image "often perceived by outsiders as either negative or non-existent". Now, international branding consultants, Wolff Olins, have been hired to give a makeover to Hull - or, to afford it its grandiose title, Kingston-upon-Hull. A poster, which is part of a multi-million pound programme of promotion, regeneration and education for the city, reads: "Goodbye `Hell and Halifax' ... Hull's moving on."

Unveiling the advertisement, the bishop said he was "igniting the first few flickering flames of hope", adding that the campaign represented something "far deeper than a flash-in-the-pan promotional campaign to boost a few egos".

"We are kindling a beacon of pride and achievement which can become the envy of the nation ... There is so much in which we can be justly proud. We must harness the city's unique spirit to improve our prospects and the quality of life for everyone." It is hoped that Halifax will remain "good Yorkshire neighbours".