Cleethorpes Pier, Fish and Chips and Leicester City Football Club

Cleethorpes Pier and Beach

Cleethorpes is a seaside town that is attached to Grimsby like a barnacle to a rock.  This is unfortunate for the residents of Cleethorpes because they consider themselves to be superior to Grimbarians in all respects and snootily resent the association with its grubby neighbour.

The short train journey took only ten minutes or so as it passed through the site of old fishing docks, past the Grimsby Town Football Club ground (which is actually in Cleethorpes) and then alongside the estuary at low tide, sticky with mud before arriving at the station which really is the end of the line for this particular route.

The railway terminates here but is the starting point of many seaside holidays because this is where visitors to the resort arrive from towns and cities of Humberside and South Yorkshire because while people from Leicester and Nottingham go to Skegness in the south of Lincolnshire, Cleethorpes is the seaside of choice for people from Sheffield, Doncaster and Scunthorpe.

BR Cleethorpes

The station is situated at the western end of the promenade right in the middle of the tacky funfair and associated attractions.  The sort of place that children are drawn to like bees to nectar but which I cannot wait to pass through as quickly as possible.  I especially dislike those pointless children’s rides that do nothing in particular and seem to me to cost a disproportionate amount of money to the pleasure they provide.  I hate them outside supermarkets and in shopping malls and if I were Prime Minister the first thing that I would do is pass a law to make them illegal.

I hurried the children through this part of the visit with a promise that I would think about paying for a pointless ride on the way back later.

Cleethorpes Excursion Poster

Next we came to the pier.  The pleasure pier is quintessentially British, a genuine icon and one that I have never really understood. No one in England lives more than seventy miles* or so from the sea but when they get to the coast they have a curious compulsion to get even closer to the water and as far away from the shore as possible without taking to a boat. The Victorians especially liked piers and by time of the First-World-War there were nearly two hundred sticking out all around the coastline as though the country was a giant pin-cushion.

Cleethorpes Pier

Cleethorpes Pier now claims to be the site of the ‘Biggest Fish and Chip Shop’ in the World but I take that boast with a pinch of salt!


The shortest pier in England is that at Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset (so they claim) but this one must be a true contender for the title.  It was opened in 1873 (financed by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway) and was originally nearly a quarter of a mile long but over its lifetime it has been severely shortened.

English piers you see are rather fragile structures and over the years have had an alarming tendency to catch fire – Weston-Super-Mare, Brighton, Blackpool, Eastbourne, and Great Yarmouth have all suffered this fate but Southend-on-Sea is probably the most unfortunate of all because it has burned down four times which seems rather careless.

The problem with a pier of course is that they are generally constructed of wood and are highly combustible and a quarter of a mile or so out to sea they are also rather inaccessible to the fire service so once they go up in flames little can be done but to watch the blazing inferno from the safety of the promenade until the fire goes out by itself and all that is left is a tangle of twisted metal girders and beams.


Fire isn’t the only danger of course because the coast can be a rough old place to be in bad weather and severe storms and gales have accounted over the years for Aberystwyth, Cromer, Saltburn, Southwold and Brighton.  Reaching far out to sea also makes them rather vulnerable to passing ships and the aforementioned unfortunate Southend-on-Sea was sliced in half in 1986 by a tanker that had lost its navigational bearings.  One unfortunate man was in the pier toilets at the time and only just made it out in time before they tipped over the edge!

Cleethorpes pier is no exception to disaster and it burnt down in 1905. It was rebuilt but was shortened again in 1940 and this is my favourite Cleethorpes Pier anecdote.  It was demolished to prevent it being of any use to the German army in the event of an invasion of England via the Humber estuary.  Quite honestly I don’t understand why the German army would need the pier to offload their tanks and equipment when they could simply have driven it up the muddy beach but that is not the point of my story.

The dismantled iron sections were sold after the war and they were bought by Leicester City Football Club who used them in the construction of the main stand at their ground at Filbert Street.  From about the age of ten my dad used to take me to watch Leicester City and we used to sit in that stand every home match and so although I didn’t know it I had actually  been on Cleethorpes pier fifty years before I ever visited the place.

Leiceter City Filbert Street

* Based on a direct line drawn on an Ordnance Survey map from location to the first coast with tidal water.  The village that is further from the sea than any other human settlement in the UK is Coton in the Elms in Derbyshire at exactly seventy miles in all directions.


28 responses to “Cleethorpes Pier, Fish and Chips and Leicester City Football Club

  1. It’s quite funny what you said about being so close to the seaside. When I used to teach in Melbourne there were a lot of sons of Italian, Vietnamese and Lebanese migrants and almost everyone had never been away from the suburb they lived in. And none had ever been outside Melbourne to the farming areas, let alone the desert. We are a race of beings who like to feel secure in our own skin.


    • I read somewhere that a surprisingly high percentage of Americans do not possess a passport and think that a visit to Walt Disney EPCOT is equivalent to travelling the World!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes. And a lot of Americans don’t have any idea where Australia is. I met a whole group of American University students in France in 1974 and when I said that I was from Australia they all started arguing if it was near Germany or Italy and if it was part of the USSR. When I told them it was in the Southern Hemisphere they thought it must be near Argentina. Then one of them came over. He was the only African-American in the group and he started by apoligising for his classmates. And he told me his father had been in the US Army during WWll and had been station in Ballarat of all places. So we both separated from the group and had a long chat. They’re not all stupid – Thank God.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. One of your most interesting recent postings Andrew. It brings back many happy child hood memories especially of watching the lifeboat being launched from the end of Cromer pier – quite spectacular! I will wait with interest to see if it is as nostalgic for some of your other followers.
    So far as banning childrens rides outside supermarkets is concerned you are such a kill joy. Just look at the faces of the children as they ride with Postman Pat and feel ashamed of yourself.


    • A couple of years ago the children climbed into one of those rides and pushed the button and quite by chance it started up, then they got a second ride. Someone must have put a £1 in for three rides and only taken one. They asked if they could go again and I said no, they had had their turn. Molly looked at me and said “Yes, but you didn’t have to pay for it” Kids are so smart.


  3. Love this post for the information on our old piers, Andrew…it’s been a while since I sought one out….I would love to find an old dilapidated one to photograph (other than Brighton West, which I have done) but no idea where to look! Probably very few left now…


  4. An excellent post which I really enjoyed. I loved the glimpse of the old Filbert Street ground which I visited about half a dozen times. If you ever have the chance, it is an amazing experience to ask a class of 11 year olds to name some European countries. What an argument we had about Bangladesh!!


  5. I can hardly credit that Southend was sliced in half!!! And you’re surely making it up about the chap in the loo. Poetic license 🙂 🙂


  6. I like piers, Andrew. Not sure why but I smile when I see people fishing off of them. Many are true characters. And old beat up piers, or what remains of them, do make great photo ops. They are improved substantial when they have seals and other sealife living on, under and next to, like the seals in San Francisco and Monterrey. Call me an incurable romantic… –Curt


    • Most of our seaside piers are fighting a losing battle against inevitable collapse, with investment some will survive along with the optimistic fishermen!


      • Sometimes, I wish I had a passion for fishing. Reading a good book while waiting for a fish to nibble, sounds mighty good to me at times.


      • I have never really understood the appeal of fishing Curt. Neither do I understand (in the UK) the hypocrisy of being allowed to hunt fish but not foxes!


      • I certainly don’t get foxes, Andrew! But at least I like to eat fish.


      • Catching fish for food and hunting fish for sport seems to me to be two very different things. We wouldn’t be allowed to hunt cows or sheep but it is ok to farm them. Confused!


      • “Catching fish for food and hunting fish for sport seems to me to be two very different things.” Total agreement. Catch and release has become big, which is a partial response. –Curt


      • I have always looked at this way Curt. If I was wandering along minding my own business and a fish caught me on a hook and took me under water for several minutes while they removed it (hopefully without damaging my mouth) and then mauled me about for a while longer then the chances are that I would be a little distressed. I guess I am just anti hunting full stop and I fail to see what pleasure it can possibly give be it a big game hunter or butterfly collector or an angler.


      • A long time ago, when I still hunted, I shot a squirrel out of a tree. The fellow fell to the ground and started squeaking. I determined I never needed to shoot another animal, and didn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Lots of fun. You had me giggling at this one.


  8. An alarming tendency to catch fire? Yikes that might persuade me to stay on shore. I chuckled at the desire of people trying to get as far from the shore as possible without a boat. Who knows why we humans are drawn like that. I’m like a fish to water when I see a dock to walk on.


  9. As a child, I loved a visit to the pier, not only for the penny arcades but for the candyfloss and toffee apples. Not forgetting, of course, the summer season when somebody famous would have at a summer show at the end of the pier theatre. I think I mentioned this to you before Andrew, but Brighton West Pier was where ‘Carry On Girls’ was filmed. Shortly after, the pier was closed down.


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