If west met east in the north, the thinking is, everyone up there could do much better. And especially Hull, says Nick Hasell.
For five months 1967 all mail despatched from Hull bore a postmark in bold sans-serif type, the slogan proudly claiming "Hull - Gateway to Europe". This was in an age of municipal marketing when seemingly every town was calling itself a "gateway" to somewhere. Hull could lay greater claim than most to such a role, having for centuries acted as a staging-post for trade from the industrial north to the Low Countries and Baltic ports. To its stolid citizens - and no doubt to the mail-receiving public alike - the boast appeared faintly risible.
Twenty-four years on and Hull has rediscovered the art of self-promotion. The slogan may have changed slightly ("Gateway to Europe" has now given way to "Northern Gateway") but the message is still the same. This time around, Hull has a sounder basis for its claims; not only has Europe's centre of gravity shifted conveniently eastwards, but the port itself is enjoying something of a boom. Last year the Port of Hull, a holding of Associated British Ports (ABP), recorded a throughput in cargo of 6.9 million tonnes, an increase of 30% on the previous year. This year traffic has increased by a further 10%.