Grimsby facts for kids
Grimsby Dock Tower
Coat of arms of Grimsby
|OS grid reference|
|• London||140 mi (230 km) S|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||DN31 – DN34, DN35, DN37|
|EU Parliament||Yorkshire and the Humber|
Grimsby, also known as Great Grimsby, is a large town and seaport in Lincolnshire, England, on the South Bank of the Humber Estuary close to where it reaches the North Sea. It is the administrative centre of North East Lincolnshire.
Grimsby developed as a major sea port on the east coast of England, hosting the largest fishing fleet in the world by the mid-20th century. The fishing industry declined dramatically after the Cod Wars. Since then the town has battled with post-industrial decline. Since the 1990s the local council has encouraged food manufacturing.
The Grimsby–Cleethorpes conurbation acts as the cultural, shopping and industrial centre for a large area of northern and eastern Lincolnshire.
- Culture and attractions
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The town was titled "Great Grimsby" to distinguish it from Little Grimsby, a village about 14 miles (22 km) to the south, near Louth. People from Grimsby are called Grimbarians; the term codhead (plural codheads) is also used jokingly or disparagingly, often with reference to Grimsby football supporters.
The town had a population of 88,243 in 2011. It is physically linked to and forms a conurbation with the adjoining town of Cleethorpes. Some 11,000 of its residents live in the village of Scartho, which was absorbed into Grimsby before 20th-century laws on the green belt were passed. All three areas come under the jurisdiction of the same unitary authority, North East Lincolnshire. It is close to the main terminus of the A180, which ends in Cleethorpes. 22 January is Great Grimsby Day.
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, and subsequently expanded onto the surrounding marshes as they were drained. The town still has areas named East Marsh and West Marsh. The Lincolnshire Wolds are situated to the south west of the town, from which the town's River Freshney rises.
There is some archeological evidence of a small town of Roman workers sited in the area in the second century. Located on the River Haven, which flowed into the Humber, this provided an ideal location for ships to shelter from approaching storms. It was also well situated to exploit the rich fishing grounds in the North Sea.
Grimsby was settled by Danes sometime in the 9th century AD. According to legend, the name Grimsby derives from the name Grim, a Danish fisherman, the suffix -by being the Old Norse word for village. The legendary founding of Grimsby is described in Lay of Havelock the Dane, but historians consider this account to be myth.
In Norse mythology, Grim (Mask) and Grimnir (Masked One) are names adopted by the deity Odin (Anglo-Saxon Woden) when travelling incognito amongst mortals, as in the short poem known as 'Grimnir's Sayings' (Grimnismal) in the Poetic Edda. The intended audience of the Havelock tale (recorded much later in the form of The Lay of Havelock the Dane) may have understood the fisherman Grim to be Odin in disguise. The Odinic name 'Grimr/Grim' occurs in many English placenames within the historical Danelaw and elsewhere in Britain, examples being the numerous earthworks named Grimsdyke. As other British placenames containing the element Grim are explained as referring to Woden/Odin (e.g. Grimsbury, Grimspound, Grime's Graves, Grimsditch, Grimsworne), Grimsby is likely to have the same derivation.
Grimsby is listed in the Domesday Book as having a population of around 200, a priest, a mill and a ferry.
During the 12th century, Grimsby developed into a fishing and trading port, at one point ranking twelfth in importance to the Crown in terms of tax revenue. The town was granted its charter by King John in 1201. The first mayor was installed in 1202.
Grimsby is noted in the Orkneyinga Saga in this Dróttkvætt stanza by Kali Kolsson:
Vér hǫfum vaðnar leirur vikur fimm megingrimmar;
saurs vara vant, er várum, viðr, í Grímsbœ miðjum.
Nú'r þat's más of mýrar meginkátliga látum
branda elg á bylgjur Bjǫrgynjar til dynja.
We have waded in mire for five terrible weeks; there was no lack of mud where we were, in the middle of Grimsby. But now away we let our beaked moose [ship] resound meerily on the waves over the seagull's swamp [sea] to Bergen.
Grimsby does not have town walls. It was too small and was protected by the marshy land around it. However, the town did have a ditch.
In medieval times, Grimsby had two parish churches, St Mary's and St James. Only St James, now known as Grimsby Minster, remains. St James is associated with a folk tale of an Imp who played tricks in the church and was turned into stone by an angel (a similar story is told for Lincoln Cathedral; see Lincoln Imp).
In the mid-14th century, the town benefited from the generosity of Edmund de Grimsby, a local man who became a senior Crown official and judge in Ireland.
In the 15th century, The Haven began to silt up, preventing ships in the Humber from docking. As a result, Grimsby entered a long period of decline which lasted until the late 18th century. By 1801, the population of Grimsby numbered 1,524, around the same size that it had been in the Middle Ages.
Rise of fishing and maritime industry
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 was revived. Grimsby's port boomed, importing iron, timber, wheat, hemp and flax. New docks were needed to cope with the expansion. The Grimsby Docks Act of 1845 allowed the necessary building works.
The arrival of the railway in 1848 made it easier to transport goods to and from the port to markets and farms. Coal mined in the South Yorkshire coal fields was brought by rail and exported through Grimsby. Rail links direct to London and the Billingsgate Fish Market allowed for fresh 'Grimsby Fish' to gain renown nationwide. The first true fish dock opened in Grimsby in 1856, and the town became a centre for 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 greatly expanded. In a rare reversal of the usual trends, large numbers of fishermen from the South-East and Devon travelled North to join the Grimsby fleet. Over 40% of these 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 ever built in Great Britain were based in Grimsby. By 1900, a tenth of the fish consumed in the United Kingdom was landed at Grimsby, despite the many smaller coastal fishing ports and villages that also supplied the nation.
The demand for fish in Grimsby grew to such an extent that, at its peak in the 1950s, Grimsby laid claim to the title of the largest fishing port in the world. The population grew from 75,000 in 1901 to 92,000 by 1931.
But the Great Depression and the restructuring of the fishing industry caused a severe decline in employment. The population was fairly stable for the rest of the 20th century.
Second World War
The Royal Dock was used as the UK's largest base for minesweepers to patrol the North Sea. The Admiralty requisitioned numerous trawlers to serve as minesweepers for the Royal Naval Patrol Service. In many cases, their crew were ex-trawlermen, as well as men from the Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Navy volunteers. Trawlers would use the winches and warps from fishing operations to tow a paravane with a cutting jaw through the water in what was known as a 'sweep' to bring mines to the surface and allow for their removal.
The dangers faced by the 'Patrol Service' ensured that it lost more vessels than any other branch of the Royal Navy during the Second World War, with 2,385 lives lost. Grimsby’s Royal Naval Patrol Service veterans financed the construction of a memorial beside the Dock Tower to ensure that the bravery and sacrifice of their comrades is never forgotten.
On 14 June 1943, an early-morning air raid by the Luftwaffe dropped several 1,000 kg bombs, 6,000 incendiary bombs and more than 3,000 Butterfly Bombs in the Grimsby area. Ninety-nine people died that night and in total, Second World War bombing raids in Grimsby and Cleethorpes killed a total of 196 persons. In addition 184 people were seriously injured. The Butterfly Bombs, which littered the area, hampered fire-fighting crews trying to reach locations damaged by the incendiary bombs. The search for recovery of bodies continued for a month after the raid.
HMS Grimsby is a Sandown class minehunter (commissioned in 1999) currently in service in the Royal Navy.
Post-Second World War
Following the pressures placed on the industry during the Cod Wars, many Grimsby firms decided to cease trawling operations from the town. The sudden demise of the Grimsby fishing industry brought an end to a way of life and community that had lasted for generations. The loss of the fishing industry brought severe social problems to the town, in a similar manner to that seen in the coalfields following the decline of mining. Huge numbers of men became redundant, highly skilled in jobs that no longer existed, and they struggled to find work ashore. As with the Ross Group, some firms concentrated on expanding industries within the town, such as food processing.
Grimsby's trawling days are remembered through the artefacts and permanent exhibits at the town's Fishing Heritage Centre. The preserved 1950s trawler, Ross Tiger, is located here. Few fishing vessels still operate from Grimsby's docks, but the town maintains a substantial fish market important in Europe.
Since the mid-1980s, the former Humber ferry, PS Lincoln Castle, has been moored in Alexandra Dock. She was used during this time as a pub\restaurant. Although her design and status as Britain's last coal-fired paddle steamer was unique, these operations no longer yielded a profit. The ship was broken up in 2010. Berthed in the Alexandra Dock is the Ross Tiger, the last survivor of what was once the world's largest fleet of sidewinder trawlers.
The town was described in The Daily Telegraph in 2001 as a town "subjected to...many crude developments over the past 30-odd years" and as a town which "seemingly shuns the notion of heritage". Redevelopment was planned as part of Yorkshire Forward's Renaissance Towns Programme; however, Yorkshire Forward was abolished in 2012.
In the early part of the 21st century, the town faced the challenges of a post-industrial economy that was also affected by a decline in the fishing industry: the East Marsh ward of the town is the second most deprived in the country, according to the governmental statistics.
Grimsby lies 15 miles from the nearest motorway, the M180 which continues as the A180 into the town and acts as a link to the national motorway network. The transport infrastructure was described as strong, and having helped Grimsby transition to a food processing centre in a report by the European Commission. Though derided as "on the road to nowhere" by the writer and critic A. A. Gill. The town is skirted by the A18, with the A46 passing through the town providing a connection towards Lincoln, and the A16 linking the town to Louth and south and eastern Lincolnshire.
Grimsby's bus service is provided by Stagecoach which took over the original Grimsby-Cleethorpes Transport in 1993. Grimsby-Cleethorpes Transport had been formed in 1957, with the merger of the previously separate Grimsby and Cleethorpes transport (GCT) undertakings. Stagecoach had all the buses resprayed to their standard livery to replace the buses previous colour-scheme of orange and white. Prior to this, the buses were painted blue and white until 1981, when the colours were changed to caramel and cream. The orange and white livery was introduced in 1987. Until 1982 GCT ran a mixture of crewed and one-person operated services. However, in that year the job of conductor was abolished and the company changed entirely to driver-only services.
In 2005, Stagecoach bought out Lincolnshire Road Car, which provided buses to South Killingholme, Louth, Barton-upon-Humber and the Willows Estate. The company is now known as Stagecoach in Lincolnshire. Joint ticketing was allowed with Stagecoach Grimsby-Cleethorpes from May 2006.
From September 2006, a new fleet of low-floor single-deckers was introduced, making the fleet an unprecedented 85 per cent low-floor.
Grimsby also has rail links via Grimsby Town railway station and Grimsby Docks railway station. There is a level crossing in the centre of the town across Wellowgate. TransPennine Express provide direct trains to Manchester Airport via Doncaster and Sheffield whilst Northern operate services to Barton-upon-Humber (for buses to Hull) and a Saturday only service to Sheffield via. Retford. Lincoln and Newark are served by East Midlands Trains services which can go on to Nottingham on Sunday in the summer months. The service to Cleethorpes runs at least hourly during the day, along a single track, passing stations at Grimsby Docks and New Clee.
Grimsby was home to two tramway networks: the Grimsby District Light Railway and the Grimsby & Immingham Electric Railway. The Grimsby Electric was a normal gauge tramway opened in 1912 between Corporation Bridge at Grimsby and Immingham. There was no physical connection with the railway system. The tramway served the town with a passenger service between Grimsby and Immingham until closure in 1961. It is claimed that once this was controlled by the Corporation, they were more interested in supporting the motorbus service, now number 45.
The Grimsby Light Railway opened in 1881 using horse-drawn trams. In 1901, these were replaced with electric tramways. This system closed in 1937. The depot continues to be used by Stagecoach, though the old Grimsby Tramways livery is still visible on the front of the building.
Operating in the area until the 1950s was a network of electrically operated trolley buses which received their power from overhead power lines.
14 miles (23 km) west of Grimsby is Humberside Airport, which mainly caters for charter holidays, and is popular for general aviation, with five flying clubs based there.
Culture and attractions
Aside from the nightclubs in nearby Cleethorpes, the town centre has undergone a renaissance in the last decade. A number of national pub chains have redeveloped or opened new outlets, including a specially-built complex at the Riverhead which is home to three (originally five) such operations. Prior to the late 1960s many public houses in the area were owned by the local brewer Hewitt Brothers and gave a distinctive local touch but following a takeover in 1969 by the brewer Bass-Charrington these have been re-badged (many times), closed or sold off.
Musical entertainment is found at the Grimsby Auditorium, built in 1995, on Cromwell Road in Yarborough near Grimsby Leisure Centre. The smaller Caxton Theatre is on Cleethorpe Road (A180) in East Marsh near the docks. The Caxton Theatre provides entertainment by adults and youths in theatre. A notable theatre company in the area is the Class Act Theatre Company run by local playwright David Wrightam.
North East Lincolnshire Council has installed a Wi-Fi network covering Victoria Street in central Grimsby. The service provides access to the Internet for the general public on a yearly subscription.
Grimsby's former cinema on Freeman Street closed in 2004, with the Parkway cinema in nearby Cleethorpes serving the town. Plans to build a new cinema in the town have been periodically made since. The Whitgift Film Theatre based in John Whitgift Academy shows a programme of limited release and arthouse films.
Notable places of interest and landmarks
- Corporation Bridge
- Fisherman's Memorial
- Grimsby Docks
- Grimsby Dock Tower
- Grimsby Ice Factory – built in 1898–1901 to provide crushed ice to preserve fish stored in ships at Grimsby's seaport
- Grimsby Institute
- Grimsby Marina
- Grimsby Minster
- Grimsby Town Hall
- Humber Forts
- National Fishing Heritage Centre
- Waltham Windmill
- Weelsby Woods
Grimsby is the site of a Blue Cross Animal Hospital, one of only four in the country; the other three are situated in London. The Grimsby hospital was previously in Cleethorpe Road, but in 2005 it moved to a new building called 'Coco Markus House' in Nelson Street.
The Grimsby Telegraph, with an audited circulation of 40,533 copies (January – June 2004), has the highest circulation of a local newspaper in Grimsby and the surrounding area since it is the only daily newspaper. Its former headquarters are on Cleethorpe Road next to the A180, it is now based in Heritage House near to the Fishing Heritage Centre. The local radio stations are BBC Radio Humberside (which has a studio on Victoria Street manned by Lara King), Lincs FM, Viking FM and the exclusively North East Lincolnshire-based Compass FM. The transmitter for Compass FM and EMAP Humberside (Lincs FM DAB) is on top of a block of flats in East Marsh. Terrestrial television coverage based in the area are the BBC who share the radio facilities on Victoria Street and ITV Yorkshire who have a news unit based in Immingham. Estuary TV (formerly Channel 7 Television) broadcast on Freeview channel 8 and on Virgin Media channel 159 from studios based at the Grimsby Institute.
Grimsby in the media
- Bernie Taupin, who lived in Humberston and Tealby (near Market Rasen) when in his teens, wrote the lyrics to Elton John's 1974 song, "Grimsby" in the Album "Caribou".
- The town has been used as a film location: Scartho Hospital (now Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital), and the Scartho Cemetery entrance, were used in the 1985 film Clockwise; the 2006 film, This Is England was partially set and filmed in Grimsby and other surrounding locations such as Nottingham;.
- Grimsby is a 2016 comedy film starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong. It was released by Columbia Pictures in February 2016. No scenes for the film were shot in Grimsby, with scenes of the town filmed in Tilbury, Essex.
- The town was the setting for the second series of the Channel 4 documentary Skint in 2014. The programme follows families and individuals living with the "devastating effects of long-term unemployment".
The Environment Agency has awarded Sheffield-based telemetry company CSE Seprol a contract to supply flood warning devices for risk areas in East Anglia. The 18 sirens, at various locations around the flood risk area of Grimsby and Cleethorpes, should reach 25,500 households to warn of portending floods. The sirens will be sounded only in the event of the Environment Agency issuing a severe flood warning for tidal flooding, or if there is a likelihood of the sea defences being breached. The sirens make a variety of sounds, from the traditional wailing sound to a voice message.
Grimsby's twin cities include:
- Tromsø, Norway, since 1961
- Bremerhaven, Germany, since February 1963
- Banjul, The Gambia
- Dieppe, France
- Akureyri, Iceland. In 2007, a friendship and fisheries agreement was signed with Akureyri which according to Ice News, might lead to a twin cities designation in the future.
As a port with extensive trading ties to Continental Europe, the Nordic nations and Baltic Europe, the town plays host to honorary consulates of Denmark, Iceland, and Norway. Swedish and Finnish honorary consulates are located in Immingham, and that of Germany at Barrow-upon-Humber.
The people of Norway send a tree to the town of Grimsby every Christmas since the end of the Second World War. The Norwegian city of Trondheim sent a tree for 40 years until 2003, since then the tree has been donated by the northern Norwegian town of Sortland, and placed in the town's Riverhead Square. During redevelopment of Riverhead Square the tree has been placed in the Old Market Place since 2013.
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