Grimsby Dock Tower and The Torre del Mangia in Siena

Grimsby Dock Tower

Lincolnshire is a flat county, a great deal of it struggles to rise even above sea level and this means that any tall building can be seen for miles around.

In the south there is the Boston Stump (St Botolph’s Church, the largest Parish Church in England) in the centre there is Lincoln Cathedral (third largest Cathedral in England) and in Grimsby there is the Dock Tower.

This is a water tower built in 1852 to provide hydraulic lifting power to operate the giant lock gates of the dock. It was designed by a man called James William Wild who had visited Siena in Italy and had so admired the place that he based his design for the Grimsby Dock Tower on the Torre del Mangia tower on the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena city centre.

Torre del Mangia

This piece of Italianate architecture on the Humber Estuary may not be Portmeirion in Wales by Sir Clough William-Ellis but is a very fine building.

This is Portmeirion in a photo taken on holiday in 1985…


At three hundred and thirty feet it is the highest building in Lincolnshire, fifty feet higher than either the Boston Stump or Lincoln Cathedral. If it were in Bath or York or London then it would be a major tourist attraction but it is in Grimsby and hardly any one visits Grimsby so not many people have seen it.

002tower2Dock Tower

Or have they? Let me take you two hundred miles or so south to the County of Berkshire and to Legoland Windsor.

Legoland is a theme park and one of the attractions is a zone called ‘miniland’ which is basically a model of London built out of Lego bricks and here there is Buckingham Palace, The Palace of Westminster, St Paul’s Cathedral and a whole host of other famous landmarks.

There isn’t much room for anywhere else but right there alongside the buildings of the capital is a model representing docks – not Portsmouth or Dover or Southampton but Grimsby. Grimsby! To me that is completely astounding and I can find no explanation as to why the designers of ‘miniland’ should select the remote town of Grimsby to be represented in this way, maybe they got lost on their way over from Sweden.

There are about two hundred visitors to Grimsby every year (I imagine), there isn’t even a dedicated Tourist Information Office, but there are over two million visitors to Legoland so a lot more people have visited Grimsby than they ever realise.

If, like me, you find this hard to believe then here it is…

Legoland Grimsby with key.

The Dock Tower (1), Grimsby Port Offices (2), Corporation Bridge (3) and Victoria Flour Mills (4).

In Rimini in Italy there is a theme park called Italia in Miniatura where there is a small scale model of Siena and the Torre del Mangia …

Siena in Miniature

Mini-Europe is a theme park located near Brussels in Belgium and has reproductions of monuments in the European Union on show at a scale of 1:25. Approximately eighty cities and three hundred and fifty buildings are represented and Italy is represented by six mini-models including Siena.  Or is it Grimsby…

Siena at Mini-Europe


32 responses to “Grimsby Dock Tower and The Torre del Mangia in Siena

  1. Perhaps near in mind that when they were originally building this, Grimsby was much more important than it is now (as was Hull), and also if you want to include a model of a port in the UK, it makes sense to go with one that is very distinctive for a project such as this. I knew the port area very well in the 1960s and it could have been any port anywhere. Not so Grimbsy, not with that tower!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was wondering what the connection was between Grimsby and Siena ….now I know, Andrew!


  3. An interesting take on towers. My maternal great great grandparents ran a fishing fleet in Grimsby. The portrait I have of my great grandmother is pretty grim


  4. Certainly, the motorway to Grimsby is one of the quietest I’ve ever been on. I used to go through Goole to Blacktoft years ago, and I have vague memories of some kind of tower there, as well.


  5. Can you get Tuscan wine in Grimsby too?


  6. Interesting collection of photos! I’ve been up one of those towers, guess which?


  7. Never been to Goole? Andrew that’s just not good enough! Who knows what you might find? That’s a very nice tower though. Are the locks still there? 🙂 🙂


  8. Well, I don’t care – I reckon it looks like it’d be worth a visit.


  9. Really interesting connection between Siena and Grimsby! I still haven’t made it to that part of the U.K. though.


  10. We have rarely been to Grimsby – went once when we visited The Deep, once when we went to Cleethorpes and once when No1 son played rugby against Grimsby in a cup match. Then we passed through it when going to Cleethorpes last month.


  11. Pingback: Siena and the Grimsby Dock Tower | Have Bag, Will Travel

  12. Great post! And over in Leeds, we have Giotto’s Tower, the Verona Tower, and another, possibly based on San Gimignano. We are a cultured lot up north, whatever them southerners think. Happy Christmas, Andrew, and thank you for a year of great travels in your company.


  13. What an interesting history that is behind the Dock Tower. The link between the towers is great (especially the update for when you moved there), and your astonishment at finding a Grimsby in Legoland is so much fun.


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