Tag Archives: Cleethorpes Pier

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!

grimsby-fish-and-chips

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.

PIER FIRE DAMAGE

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.

Three Trains – I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside!

cleethorpes postcard

At the entrance to the pier we waited at the appointed place for the tourist train to arrive and take us the mile or so to the far end of the promenade.

Next to cruising, the second holiday form of holiday transport that I hate most of all are those annoying tourist trains which are now an irritating feature of almost everywhere you go.  I once vowed never to go on one but now I have to eat my words and make concessions to my grandchildren.

The road train arrived and made slow progress along the ‘shared space’ road/pavement at the back of the beach.  It was a typical English summer day at the seaside – overcast and a little cool with the sea about a mile away at low tide and only visible through a powerful pair of binoculars but there were some hardy people toughing it out and resolutely determined to spend a day on the beach.

Railway posters of the 1920’s show pictures of fit healthy young people playing beach games on golden sand next to an inviting azure sea where sailing dingies float gently by all under a blue sky and blazing sun without a body piercing or an unsightly tattoo in sight but it is rarely like that now, if indeed it ever was.

RAIL091

I don’t understand why people go to a place like Cleethorpes for a holiday.  The weather is unreliable, the sea is permanently cold and everything is expensive. Really expensive.  Half an hour in the amusement arcade can take a heavy toll on the wallet, the funfair isn’t cheap, there are the pointless rides to contend with and then the donkeys.  £2.50 for a five minute one hundred yard trudge up the beach hardly represents good value for money in my book.

It is surely so much  better to get a cheap flight to Spain, send the children to the kids’ club and sit in the sun and drink cheap San Miguel and probably spend less money.    I often feel an urge to walk across to point this out to people as they sit shivering behind a wind-break or sheltering under an umbrella being turned inside out by the wind but of course I never do.

Cleethorpes Beach

The final stop was at the narrow gauge railway terminus where I purchased tickets to board the train which was already waiting at the platform and we squeezed ourselves into tiny carriages being pulled by a wheezy engine belching smoke that was preparing to depart for its lazy two mile journey along the sea front.

Railways in Britain are a national obsession.  When the Victorians weren’t building piers they were building railways.  And by the time that they were nationalised in 1948 there were simply too many of them to be economical.  So in the 1960’s, based on a document called the ‘Beeching Report’, the Government set about a reform programme which resulted in thousands of miles of track being dismantled and hundreds of stations being closed.

Railway enthusiasts went into collective shock but quickly rallied and almost immediately started organising themselves into preservation societies and very soon they were relaying railway  lines almost as quickly as British Rail contractors were tearing them up.  Now, every weekend these devotees of track and steam gather together to stoke boilers, grease points and polish name plates and to run engines on restored lines or on narrow gauge railways all over the country.  It is almost like an act of shared defiance against the policies of the national government

Enthusiasts will go to great lengths to build and preserve railways. The Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway was constructed from track and stock salvaged from the potato fields of the county where they were once used to transport tubers from the fields to the packing sheds at harvest time.

Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway

I like narrow gauge railways and steam engines and the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway is an agreeable little ride that sweeps past the boating lake, the paddling pool, the civic gardens and the dilapidated wooden huts which stand at the back of the beach as reminders of a bygone seaside age.  At the eastern terminus we stayed on board as the engine switched ends and then made the return journey back to the promenade where we stopped for ice cream and slush puppies.

My grandson loved the trains and when it was time to go back to the station I offered a return journey on the road train.  With the wisdom of a two year old and without any hesitation he corrected me and said – “That’s not a train granddad, it’s a bus”.  How smart is that!

Back at the pier I was now faced with dealing with my rash promise to think about a pointless ride.  I resisted.  The children staged a rebellion and climbed into a Postman Pat van and pushed the buttons and it magically sparked into life.  The ride over they pushed the buttons again and it worked a second time.  These pointless rides are usually 50p a go or three rides for £1 so someone had been daft enough to put £1 in the slot and only take one ride. A win/win situation I thought and congratulated myself, they got the ride and I didn’t waste any money.

The Grinch

My eldest asked if they could go on another and I said no they had been on one and that was enough (that is mean I agree) she said that she understood that but pointed out –  “yes, but you didn’t have to pay for it granddad”.  How smart is that!

Admitting defeat I paid for a pointless ride and then we went back to the station and caught the Trans Pennine Express back to Grimsby to find a fish and chip shop for a tea-time treat.

They know a thing or two about chips in Grimsby let me tell you and there is a chip shop in every street – sometimes two and people there know best how to cook them and to eat them.  The reason there are so many is that Grimsby was once the biggest fishing port in the World, everyone had fish and housewives used to take their fillets to a chip shop to have it cooked for a penny.

Cleethorpes Beach sand Castles

Three Trains – Cleethorpes, Amusement Arcades and the English Pier

Cleethorpes By Train

There isn’t a great deal to do at Grimsby railway station whilst waiting for a train to arrive except keep the children from the edge of the platform, there is no book shop and the modest café is almost permanently closed so we waited as patiently as we could until the purple liveried train finally arrived, climbed on board and set off for nearby Cleethorpes.

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.

Cleethorpes Funfair

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 muddy estuary 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.

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 Pier and Donkey

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.

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.

PIER FIRE DAMAGE

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 story.  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.