Grimsby in Lincolnshire

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Town Hall © geograph.org.uk - Stephen Richards/cc-by-sa-2.0

Town Hall © geograph.org.uk – Stephen Richards/cc-by-sa-2.0

Grimsby, also Great Grimsby, is a port town and the administrative centre of North East Lincolnshire, England, on the south bank of the Humber Estuary close to the North Sea. It was the home port for the world’s largest fishing fleet by the mid-20th century, but fishing then fell sharply. The Cod Wars denied UK access to Icelandic fishing grounds and the European Union used its Common Fisheries Policy to parcel out fishing quotas to other European countries in waters within 200-nautical-mile (370 km) of the UK coast. Grimsby has since suffered post-industrial decline, but food production has risen since the 1990s. The Grimsby–Cleethorpes conurbation acts as a cultural and economic centre for much of north and east Lincolnshire. Grimsby people are called Grimbarians; the term codhead is also used jokingly, often for football supporters. Great Grimsby Day is 22 January. Grimsby is also the second largest settlement by population in Lincolnshire after Lincoln, with Scunthorpe being the third largest. The main sectors of the economy are ports and logistics, food processing, specifically frozen foods and fish processing, chemicals and process industries and digital media. Cleethorpes to the east has a tourist industry. To the west along the Humber bank to Immingham there has been large-scale industrial activity since the 1950s, around chemicals and from the 1990s gas-powered electricity generation.

The town was named “Great Grimsby” to distinguish it from Little Grimsby, a village about 14 miles (23 km) to the south, near Louth. It had a population of 88,243 in the 2011 census and an estimated population of 88,323 in 2019. It forms a conurbation with adjoining Cleethorpes and the villages of Humberston, Scartho, Brigsley and Waltham. The 2011 census gave the conurbation a population of 134,160, making it the second largest built-up area in Humberside. It comes under the unitary authority of North East Lincolnshire. It is near the main terminus of the A180 at Cleethorpes. The area had 65,804 males and 68,356 females according to the 2011 census, of whom just over 97 per cent were ethnically white. A religious affiliation was declared by under 61 per cent; over 31 per cent were non-religious and 7 per cent did not respond to the question. Grimsby lies in the national character areas of the Humber and the Lincolnshire coast and Marshes; it is predominantly low in topography. The town was historically settled on low-lying islands and raised areas of the Humber marsh; it expanded onto the surrounding marshes as they were drained. There are still areas named East Marsh and West Marsh. The Lincolnshire Wolds, where the town’s River Freshney rises, lie to the south-west.

The Grimsby Haven Company was formed by Act of Parliament in May 1796 (the Grimsby Haven Act) for the purpose of “widening, deepening, enlarging, altering and improving the Haven of the Town and Port of Great Grimsby”. After dredging of The Haven and related improvement in the early 19th century, the town grew rapidly as the port boomed, importing iron, timber, wheat, hemp and flax. New docks were needed to cope with the expansion. The necessary works were allowed under the Grimsby Docks Act of 1845. The arrival of the railway in 1848 eased the transport of goods to and from the port to markets and farms. Coal mined in the South Yorkshire coalfields was brought by rail and exported through Grimsby. Rail links direct to London and the Billingsgate Fish Market allowed fresh “Grimsby fish” to gain nationwide renown. The first true fish dock opened in Grimsby in 1856, and the town became central to the development of the commercial fishing industry. The Dock Tower was completed in 1851, followed by the Royal Dock in 1852. No.1 Fish Dock was completed in 1856, followed by No.2 Fish Dock in 1877. Alexandra Dock and Union Dock were completed in 1879. During this period, the fishing fleet was much expanded. In a rare reversal of usual trends, large numbers of fishermen from the South-East and Devon travelled North to join the Grimsby fleet. Over 40 per cent of the newcomers came from Barking in East London and other Thames-side towns. In 1857 there were 22 vessels in Grimsby. Six years later there were 112. The first two legitimate steam trawlers built in Britain were based in Grimsby. By 1900, a tenth of the fish consumed in the United Kingdom was landed there, although there were also many smaller coastal fishing ports and villages involved. The demand for fish in Grimsby meant that at its peak in the 1950s it claimed to be the largest fishing port in the world. The population grew from 75,000 in 1901 to 92,000 by 1931.

Grimsby is strongly linked with the sea fishing industry that once generated wealth for the town. At its peak in the 1950s, it was the largest and busiest fishing port in the world. The Cod Wars with Iceland, and the European Union‘s Common Fisheries Policy sent this industry into decline for many years. In 1970 around 400 trawlers were based in the port, but by 2013 only five remained, while 15 vessels were being used to maintain offshore wind farms in the North Sea. The town still has the largest fish market in the UK, but most of what is sold is brought overland from other ports or from Iceland by containerisation. Of the 18,000 tonnes of fresh fish sold in Grimsby fish market in 2012, almost 13,000 tonnes, mainly cod and haddock, came from Iceland. Grimsby houses some 500 food-related companies, as one of the largest concentrations of such firms in Europe. The local council has promoted Grimsby as Europe’s Food Town for nearly 20 years. In 1999, the BBC reported that more pizzas were produced than anywhere else in Europe, including Italy. Grimsby is recognised as the main centre of the UK fish-processing industry; 70 per cent of the UK’s fish processing industry is located there. In recent years, this expertise has led to diversification into all forms of frozen and chilled foods. It is one of the largest centres of fish processing in Europe. More than 100 local companies are involved in fresh and frozen fish production, the largest being the Findus Group (Lion Capital LLP), comprising Young’s Seafood and Findus, with its corporate headquarters in the town. Young’s is a major employer, with some 2,500 people based at its headquarters. From this base, Young’s has a global sourcing operation supplying 60 species from 30 countries. Traditional Grimsby smoked fish was awarded a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in 2009 by the European Union. The traditional process uses overnight cold smoking from sawdust in tall chimneys, roughly 1 by 2 metres (3 ft 3 in by 6 ft 7 in) square and 10m high. Other major seafood companies include the Icelandic-owned Coldwater Seafood, employing more than 700 across its sites in Grimsby; and Five Star Fish, a supplier of fish products to the UK food market. The £5.6 million Humber Seafood Institute, the first of its kind in the UK, opened in 2008. Backed by Yorkshire Forward, North East Lincolnshire Council and the European Regional Development Fund, it is managed by the local council. Tenants include the Seafish Industry Authority and Grimsby Institute and University Centre. Greater Grimsby is a European centre of excellence in producing chilled prepared meals, and the area has Europe’s largest concentration of cold-storage facilities.

Alexandra Docks and National Fishing Heritage Museum © Asterion/cc-by-sa-2.5 Bandstand in People's Park © geograph.org.uk - David Wright/cc-by-sa-2.0 National Fishing Heritage Centre © geograph.org.uk - David Wright/cc-by-sa-2.0 The Litten Tree © geograph.org.uk - David Wright/cc-by-sa-2.0 Walter's © geograph.org.uk - Dave Bevis/cc-by-sa-2.0 Town Hall © geograph.org.uk - Stephen Richards/cc-by-sa-2.0
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National Fishing Heritage Centre © geograph.org.uk - David Wright/cc-by-sa-2.0
The Port of Grimsby has been in use since the medieval period. The first enclosed dock, later known as the Old Dock, was built in the 1790s by the Grimsby Haven Company. Major expansion came with the railways and construction of the Royal Dock, Grimsby in the 1840s. A Fish Dock was added in 1857, and the fish docks expanded over the next 80 years. The Old Dock was expanded to form Alexandra Dock in the 1880s. The Kasbah is a historic area between the Royal Dock and Fish Dock marked by a network of streets that remains home to many artisan fish-processing businesses. Fishing activities were reduced to a fraction of former levels in the second half of the 20th century. The current port has become a centre for car imports and exports, and since 1975 for general cargo. In the early 21st century, it has developed as a wind-farm maintenance base.

High-street shopping is grouped in central Grimsby between the railway and River Freshney, where Victoria Street acts as a central pedestrianised shopping street with an undercover Freshney Place centre to the north. Freshney Place is visited by 14 million shoppers a year and employs over 2,000 staff. The centre houses over 100 stores, including Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser. Constructed between 1967 and 1971 in a joint venture between the old Grimsby Borough Council and developers Hammerson’s UK Ltd., it was known as the Riverhead Centre (so named as the development was adjacent to where the two local rivers, the Freshney and the Haven, meet). Hammerson’s UK Ltd began a £100 million redevelopment of the retail centre, doubling it in size. The expanded centre was covered in a glass roof. Two multi-storey car parks were constructed at each end of the centre; with this development, the old Top Town area of Grimsby was effectively privatised and roofed over. Stores are serviced at the first floor by ramps at the western end, which can accommodate even large vehicles. The ramp also provides access to the car park on the roof of the indoor market, which is operated by the local council. Freshney Place won a design commendation in the Refurbishment Category of the 1993 BCSC awards. In the town centre Bethlehem and Osborne Street are also mixed in use, hosting retail, legal and service functions to the south of Victoria Street. Many local independent stores operate, several at the Abbeygate Centre off Bethlehem Street. Once the head office of local brewers Hewitt Brothers, the building was renovated in the mid-1980s and now houses restaurants and designer clothing stores. The town has two markets, one next to Freshney Place and the other in Freeman Street (B1213). This was a dominant shopping area with close ties to the docks, but industry and demographic changes have led it to struggle since the late 1970s. Previously the town centre area was rivalled by the Freeman Street shopping area, located closer to the docks. Freeman Street retains its covered market. Grimsby town centre has re-emerged in prominence as the docks declined and shops such as Marks and Spencer relocated to central Grimsby. Other developments near the town centre since the 1980s include the Alexandra Retail Park and Sainsbury’s to the west of Alexandra Dock, an Asda store between the town centre and Freeman Street, and the Victoria Mills Retail Park off the Peaks Parkway A16, which has several chain stores, including Next and close to a Tesco Extra (the second in the area. B&Q opened a large store off the Peaks Parkway to the east of the town centre. Unlike many towns where shopping has been built on the outskirts, these and similar developments were placed around Grimsby’s town centre. This keeps shopping in a compact area, easier on pedestrians and public transport users. Some out-of-town development has taken place, with Morrisons building a store just outside the town in the parish of Laceby. It is known as Morrisons Cleethorpes. This name derives from a period when the area was part of the now defunct Cleethorpes Borough. Most major supermarkets have expanded in the early 21st century, including Asda, and Tesco at Hewitts Circus, which is technically in adjoining Cleethorpes. Such is the quality of shopping in the area that bus services bring shoppers from across Lincolnshire, especially smaller towns such as Louth, Brigg, and Scunthorpe.

Grimsby is beginning to develop as an energy centre. It already generates more electricity from renewable solar, wind, biomass and landfill gas than anywhere else in England. The town gains 28 per cent of the electricity it uses from green sources. Its proximity to the biggest cluster of offshore wind farms in Europe has brought around 1,500 jobs to the area, most of them in turbine maintenance.

Read more on Grimsby Live, Wikivoyage Grimsby and Wikipedia Grimsby (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Johns Hopkins University & Medicine - Coronavirus Resource Center - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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