GRIMSBY’S history, on which a ‘Great’ town was built, is playing an integral role in multi-million-pound regeneration plans.
Famed as a fishing port in the 1950s, it was the busiest and largest in the world and during that period the streets of Grimsby resonated with the sounds, sights and smells of money.
Large impressive homes occupied by trawler owners, pubs packed with dockers and deckhands, bustling retail streets and a docks’ area that was brimming with activity. If you wish to gauge a sense of its importance, look down from the Cleethorpe Road flyover at what is now the headquarters of ABP, (Associated British Ports) – its grandeur is a statement of that time, and of the town’s importance on a global scale.
Half a century further on and those buildings, spaces and places are taking centre stage once again – used in plans put forward by historians, planners, partners and politicians as they unite to reshape Great Grimsby for the decades ahead.
The wholescale regeneration projects centre upon a 2.5km area that lies within what has been designated as Grimsby’s Heritage Action Zone, (HAZ). It stretches from 17-19 Wellowgate to St James’ Square, along the main town shopping area of Victoria Street, across Riverhead Square and onto Garth Lane bridge. It then passes West Haven maltings and onto Victoria Mills and up to the docks, where you can find the historic Kasbah area.
Relationships have been built over many months between North East Lincolnshire Council, its regeneration partner ENGIE, central Government, private companies such as Associated British Ports and national organisations including Historic England. Such unprecedented co-operation has seen grant monies secured, again to an unprecedented level.
The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership; The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government through the Grimsby Town Deal; the Cultural Development Fund (funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and administered by Arts Council England); the Department of Transport, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Architectural Heritage Fund are all supporting the projects now underway – proof indeed of the faith they place in the town, its leaders and their aspirations.
So, what do we have along that 2.5km HAZ stretch? Let’s take a ‘walk in words’ to look at a few of the projects:
St James’ Square: Arguably the most important public building in Grimsby, the Minster sits adjacent to this green space, where a £1.5m transformation will be taking place. Plans have been approved for its redevelopment as a family-friendly space in the hub of Grimsby which can be opened-up for appropriate public events. It is being replanted and redesigned with a focus too, on arts and culture to decorate street furniture and signage.
Victoria Street and the Riverhead: The HAZ passes through this area on its way to Garth Lane and on doing so, it may be easy to overlook some of the fantastic buildings that are a representation of the town’s past. Have you seen the architecture above the McDonald’s sign on Victoria Street?
Garth Lane and the West Haven Maltings: In the heart of Grimsby and central to the HAZ, this area is set to undergo one of the largest transformations along our journey. There are two separate projects here. The first and more immediate is the recreation of the whole Garth Lane public space with a new 5m wide footbridge, new planting and environmental schemes, fresh green spaces where people can sit and enjoy a revitalised area leading down to the River Freshney. This was once the historic heart of the town identified in legend as where the founder of Grimsby, Grim, landed after rescuing the infant Prince Havelock, or Havelok, of Denmark from the sea. The second project is the redevelopment of the redundant West Haven maltings to create an Onside Grimsby Youth Zone.
Corporation Road Bridge: This town landmark, which is listed, is receiving almost £5m for vital repair work, which is crucial to ensuring its long-term viability.
The Kasbah area of Grimsby Docks: After crossing the bridge you find Victoria Mills, which is a historic electricity and steam powered corn mill. You then approach the docks, where the Kasbah is sited, on land owned by ABP. The Port of Grimsby has seen great regeneration in the last few years as the renewable and automotive sectors grow. The Kasbah area served an important purpose to the fishing industry but as the Port moves forward these brilliant buildings need a new cause. An area that has received much attention, this area was once the bustling commercial and business hub of the fish docks and is rightly described by Historic England’s principal advisor for historic places, Clive Fletcher, as ‘truly unique’.
“The Kasbah’s historic buildings are not only symbols of the past but opportunities for the future. With a little imagination and investment, Grimsby’s heritage is poised to release new economic vitality and pride in the town,” he said on a recent visit to the town.
With the above in mind, grant funding is available to assist businesses to locate and develop here in a way that will see the Kasbah reborn for the next generation.
Summing up the major investment into Great Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire Council leader Cllr Philip Jackson, said: “We sit on the brink of major opportunity here and it is the responsibility of ourselves, our stakeholders and partners to ensure it does not slip through our grasp. We know our town has much that is Great and now is the time for its reinvention.”
For more on the projects, visit www.investnel.co.uk