The Waterson Family of Hull has been recognised for many years as one of the city’s proudest and most treasured cultural and musical exports. From the 1950s onwards they blazed a trail across the UK folk music scene as ambassadors and authentic interpreters of the traditional music of England and Ireland, and in particular the music of Yorkshire.
In collaboration with the City of Hull we will be mounting an exhibition celebrating the lives and achievements of the Watersons through their music and professional lives as well as their unique characters. This multimedia exhibition will combine music, video, interviews, photography and ephemera to show the rich history and impact of this family both locally and abroad.
The exhibition will take place in Hull in the autumn of 2017. For updates please like us on Facebook and subscribe to our mailing list.
The three Waterson siblings, Norma and Lal and Mike, were born in Park Street to a half native Hull half Irish Traveller family, and orphaned at a very early age. The whole family of extended aunts, uncles and cousins were very musical and close-knit, and the siblings grew up with a love of music from all over the world. They were influenced as much by the American Forces Radio their father listened to in the War as by the old Music Hall songs their mother and grandmother loved.
In the 1950s the family established the iconic Folk Union One club at the Blue Bell in Hull, booking musical artists from all over the UK and beyond. At the same time they toured extensively, recorded several albums and influenced many people as they went including pop artists such as Steve Winwood of Traffic, and Irish musicians such as the Dubliners.
Though two of the siblings have passed away, the Watersons continue to influence the modern UK folk and pop scene today. Dr. Norma Waterson MBE is recognised as one of the greatest singers this country has ever produced, in addition to holding a wealth of information regarding the ancient traditions of the British Isles, as well as folkloric practises around the world.
In preparation for the exhibition we are compiling photos, recordings, magazine clippings and other materials relating to the life and works of the Watersons, and we would love to bring in the collective memory and experience of this community. If you have any photos, memories, videos or recordings from over the years please reach out to us through the contact page or find us on Facebook.