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‘An Empire Dock’: Place Promotion and the Local Acculturation of Imperial Discourse in ‘Britain’s Third Port’

Reeve, Michael


Michael Reeve


This article explores the employment and adaptation of imperial ideas and imagery in the civic performance and presentation of Hull, the East Yorkshire port city, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Focusing, in particular, on the opening ceremony of a new dock in June 1914 - organised around the procession of King George V and the Queen-consort Mary - the article contests that imperial discourses were adapted for use in the local context during this period. At a time when the British empire was widely seen to require renewal, following military mistakes in South Africa and growing economic and naval competition with Germany and North America, civic performances such as dock openings provided a means for the presentation of the provincial city to a national and, potentially, international audience. They were also an opportunity to present an image of a still robust and powerful empire. Opening ceremonies provided local political and business elites with a stage for situating the city within the broader structures of empire, conferring, in concert with the approval of the Crown, an association with imperial grandeur and socioeconomic innovation.


Reeve, M. (2021). ‘An Empire Dock’: Place Promotion and the Local Acculturation of Imperial Discourse in ‘Britain’s Third Port’. Northern History, 58(1), 129-150.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 28, 2020
Online Publication Date Dec 28, 2020
Publication Date 2021-01
Deposit Date Jun 27, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jun 27, 2024
Journal Northern History
Print ISSN 0078-172X
Electronic ISSN 1745-8706
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 58
Issue 1
Pages 129-150
Public URL


Accepted manuscript (494 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© The Author.
This is an Accepted Manuscript deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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