“The Darkest Town in England”: Patriotism and Anti-German Sentiment in Hull, 1914–19

Reeve, Michael (2017). “The Darkest Town in England”: Patriotism and Anti-German Sentiment in Hull, 1914–19. International Journal of Regional and Local History, 12(1) pp. 42–63.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/20514530.2017.1353770


This article is primarily concerned with contributing to the burgeoning movement within First World War cultural history to provide rich local case studies, in order to problematise traditional perspectives on the patriotic response to war. It argues that, in Hull, the overwhelming response of local people was a sort of “defensive” or “practical patriotism”. The safety of kith and kin, local culture and “way of life” was foremost in the minds of those attesting to join the colours, rather than the more abstract notion of defending “King and Country”. Though the latter certainly played its role in expressions of anti-German feeling and in attitudes to the war more broadly, it was more often combined with “local specificities” taken from the experience of life in Hull. Even riotous and criminal attacks upon the homes and businesses of naturalised German Hullensians could be oblique expressions of concern for the defence of the city, especially pertinent in a port in close proximity to the North Sea.

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