“What affects one thing affects, in some way, all things: all is interwoven into the continuous fabric of being.”— Starhawk
So how exactly do a group of investigators who’ve been working together for nearly 50 years suddenly find themselves thrust into the limelight?
In April, we received a call from Lucie McCarthy, principal archaeologist at Humber Archaeology Partnership, asking us to investigate a huge number of crates found in an underground vault near Land of Green Ginger. The crates were of varying sizes, bearing the words ‘To Hull from Land of Green Ginger’. Being ever curious about anything of this nature, our interest was immediately piqued and we, of course, accepted the offer to become involved.
In their haste, Antony and Allison opened one of the crates in situ and the contents, whatever they were, vaporised on contact with air. A message – ‘Acts of Wanton Wonder are coming’ – was left on the inside lid. We immediately took steps to transport the crates to our own HQ for thorough investigation, especially as some were starting to display strange and unpredictable behaviours – emitting green smoke and varied unexplainable noises.
During the first phase of investigation led by Richard and Pauline, one of the crates was found to contain a bottle with a riddle inside. With help from Facebook followers, we were able to work out the answer – 7 Alleys, East Park – and the appearance of a series of Land of Green Ginger marks and a mysterious carriage pulled by majestic horses around East Hull seemed to confirm our suspicions. The 7 Alleys were going to reveal themselves. But if everything seemed to point towards East Park, then why had a stack of crates appeared at the Freedom Centre on Preston Road?
We took the decision to move the crates to East Park to see if that allayed their strange behavior somewhat. Calm seemed to descend. Then more reports of the horses and carriage emerged, with people receiving personal invitations to enter the 7 Alleys ‘if they dared’.
And dare they did. For those of you who joined us on the search – you know what unfolded. For those of you who didn’t, have a look at some of the images we managed to capture here.
Anyone who picked up a piece of confetti from 7 Alleys found another clue – a riddle with a picture of horses and carriage on one side and a boar on the other. People started speculating whether this meant that the next ‘Act of Wanton Wonder’ might be in Bransholme, as the name of the estate comes from an old Scandinavian word meaning Brand’s water meadow’ (‘brand’ means ‘wild boar’).
Our investigations continued, but then we found a strange gold object in a crate that smelled strongly of ginger. We knew what it was straight away, but we decided to have a bit of fun and ask people to guess. We had all sorts of answers, from the top of a walking stick to a small shoe, but we eventually put people out of their misery and revealed what it was – the legendary Gold Nose of Green Ginger!
The Gold Nose has been talked about for years, but it was last seen fifty years ago when work to lay the foundations of the first houses on Bransholme commenced. Workmen discovered a small casket with The Nose lying inside, but it then disappeared completely, assumed lost or stolen. Legend says The Gold Nose brings copious amounts of luck, so there’s little wonder someone would want to steal it…
In the midst of this discovery, we read in the local paper one morning that a lady called Margaret Cranwell had opened a crate that had been in her allotment shed for years. She’d been storing tools on top of it, not realising how important it could be. The news of all the crates appearing across the city had piqued her interest, so she’d decided to pull it out and investigate further.
Inside the crate she found a megaphone, a jar of ashes, some ribbons and a document about making a guild – a group of people who come together to work on something of joint interest.
We were slightly disappointed that Margaret had gone to the paper rather than asking us for help – especially since we’d been so high profile in our investigations – but we got in touch with her and offered our support. She was slightly reticent to accept, but we convinced her that two heads are indeed better than one.
We contacted some old friends of ours called The Fire-Smiths, specialists in fire making, and they investigated the ashes. They examined them under a microscope, poured water over them and set fire to them and they eventually burnt away, leaving the following message:
Longill has many street names with a theme of water, so we wondered if we should maybe bring fire and water together in a bonfire on Longhill, thinking about the synchronicity of opposites and how what shouldn’t work together often does. The Fire Smiths asked local people to collect:
- Water, collected from the streets named after rivers.
- Any piece of wood, however small – a pencil, a wooden spoon, a chair – to add to the fire.
- Answers to the question ‘What gives you hope?’
Margaret worked on bringing together a group called The Longhill Hosts. Alongside the Fire Smiths, they spread the word about The Longhill Burn, helping friends, neighbours and other local residents to make their contribution.
On Saturday July 15, we gathered at Eastmount Recreation Centre to see a marching band, a shoal of shimmering fish, and hopes shared with the world. What brings you hope? For the people who’d worked with The Fire-Smiths, it was everything from ‘chocolate‘ and ‘my mum‘ to ‘January‘ and ‘seeing old people dance‘.
We watched as the crate containing the hopes was paraded through the fire and pulled up the bonfire, hanging for a moment in the heart-shaped central hole before being set alight. The rest of the bonfire was quick to follow, with fireworks spluttering out into the sky; ‘Love is in the Air’ blared out, and we all started singing as one as the fireworks burst and flashed in synchronicity. People were smiling and laughing and clapping along, heads craned back as the fireworks steadily got bigger and deeper and brighter.
The mood was glorious. People danced and sang, sharing their photographs of The Longhill Burn on social media and talking about how much they’d enjoyed it.
During the clean-up, The Fire-Smiths called us over, having found something unusual in the embers of the bonfire; a tiny crate, exactly the same as the larger ones in every detail, was nestled in the still-warm ashes. Tally and Martin pulled it out and opened it, catching the following on camera:
For now, we have no idea what this means – why is the crate so small? What do the sounds mean? We’ve tried playing them backwards as suggested by some of our followers, but nothing’s become evident so far.
But back to The Gold Nose!
After we told everyone we’d found The Gold Nose, we were contacted by Louise Smith, General Manager of North Point Shopping Centre. She had an empty shop unit and wondered if we wanted to use it as a base for our investigations.
We agreed, but then more strange things started happening. Louise told us that Land of Green Ginger marks had appeared overnight at each entrance to the shopping centre. We thought someone might be having some fun with us, but they were exactly the same as the marks that appeared at East Park before The Search for the 7 Alleys.
Then crates started appearing. We’d agreed to send some to North Point because the crate we discovered The Gold Nose in also had lots of shop fittings – it seemed logical to fit the shop out with what we’d found – but now crates were popping up all over the place.
We moved our crates to North Point, and received numerous reports of a strong smell of ginger from shoppers and passers by. We then announced that The Gold Nose would be making a momentous trip back to Bransholme, housed at North Point and staying for two months before being returned back to the City of Hull for safekeeping.
We welcomed The Gold Nose of Green Ginger back to Bransholme on Saturday June 17. There was a wonderful procession, with The Nose Guardian arriving in a horse and carriage and carrying The Nose through the shopping centre on a ceremonial pole.
The Nose will be residing there until Saturday August 19, where people can visit it, make a wish on it, learn to play the nose flute, have afternoon tea and learn a whole range of nose-themed crafts. Then it will make its journey to Hull History Centre, where it will be received by the Lord Mayor for safekeeping in the City of Hull.
Shortly after the opening procession, KCOM found a crate on Beverley Road while they were digging. The crate had a Land of Green Ginger stamp but also a strange star shape which we didn’t recognise. They contacted us and we took the crate away and opened it, finding a strange machine which seemed to be in pieces.
We asked our followers on social media what the star shape might be, and a number of people came back saying it was the Rediffusion logo. When we opened the crate, it contained what seemed to be a machine in pieces. We posted a picture to our Facebook page, and a number of people contacted us to say that Rediffusion had a secret research group and they were working on a project called Project VEAR – Voice Extraction and Rediffusion – designed to collect people’s voices.
A number of people on Facebook told us their relatives had been working on this project and they wanted to re-form to put the machine back together. A man called James came forward to say he had a notebook full of drawings that his granddad had left him. There was a problem though; looking at James’ notebook, the machinery we found in the crate seemed to have a big piece missing…
We asked everyone on social media to share the story in the hope someone would know where the missing part was. After a couple of days, a lady called Iris confirmed she thought she had the missing part. She used to work for Rediffusion, and when they were clearing out the offices on Beverley Road she took it to use as a vase.
We gave all the pieces to the people who contacted us on Facebook and they decided to reform Re-Rediffusion to make Project VEAR happen. Over the past few weeks they’ve been travelling around Hull collecting people’s voices, although we don’t know what they’ll be doing with them just yet.
That’s our story up to now. We’ve no doubt that more mysterious happenings will be coming our way, but we’re ready to keep investigating until we get the answers we’re looking for.
Act 1 – 7 Alleys – Find out what we discovered on the search for the 7 Alleys.
Act II – The Gold Nose of Green Ginger – Read about the journey of The Gold Nose, from discovery to North Point Shopping Centre to Hull History Centre.
Act III – The Longhill Burn – At nightfall on 15 July, we gathered together for music, dancing, surprises and the lighting of a huge and beautiful bonfire…