Tag Archives: Grimsby

Gritty Grimsby is not a Tourist Town

“Grimsby was not at all what I had expected…. The town centre was not compact and charming and town like, but grubbily urban with busy roads which were difficult to cross on foot” – Bill Bryson

I used to like Bill Bryson, I thought he was funny but in his last lamentable book ‘The Road to Little Dribbling”  he had the above to say about Grimsby.  I am not a Grimbarian so I have no axe to grind.  I am not arguing with him but I just got the sense that he hadn’t really visited Grimsby at all and his dismissive assessment was based on a Google search.  Despite its shortcomings I think the town deserves more than a quarter page in one of Bill’s travel books.

I have lived in Grimsby for ten years and I rather like it.

Read The Full Story Here….

 

The Headscarf Revolutionaries

I am a day early on this one but Monday is Washing lines Day,  March 8th is International Women’s Day and it seems rather inappropriate to me that it should be on Washing Day.

There will be lots of posts explaining what it is and the history of it so I thought that I might just post an example…

In early 1968 there was a fishing disaster out of Hull. In the space of three weeks three trawlers were lost, fifty-eight fishermen and crew members died and only one  survived.

Lillian Bilocca, Christine Jensen, Mary Denness and Yvonne Blenkinsop called a meeting which resulted in the formation of the Hessle Road Women’s Committee.

The group became known as the Headscarf Revolutionaries. Bilocca and her women comrades led a direct action campaign to prevent undermanned trawlers from putting to sea, particularly when the ship had no properly qualified radio operator.

Read The Full Story Here…

A Cycle Ride Along The Sea Wall

Cycling Kim 001

I don’t always feel terribly safe when riding my bike so I don’t do as much cycling as I could but Kim has bought herself a new one so I have had to get mine out from the back of the shed.

Kim has a modern lightweight model with eighteen slick gears and modern features, mine is a twenty-five year old Raleigh with a heavy steel frame and a saddle made out of concrete.  Raleigh bikes were made in Nottingham but you can’t get them anymore, faces with fierce competition from China they ceased production in 2003.

I’d buy a new one to replace it but it still goes nicely and I don’t want a Chinese bike so I’ll wait.  It doesn’t really matter that it is heavy and doesn’t have as many gears because Lincolnshire is mostly flat so cycling doesn’t require a great deal of effort.

Today we avoided the roads that frighten me and used the dedicated cycle paths and pedalled our way to the sea wall about three miles north of where we live.

The sea wall is a stout defensive concrete structure designed to protect the land from potential storm surges and flooding.  It runs for several miles alongside the south side of the Humber Estuary and looks as sturdy and grand as any medieval city fortification.  Rather confusingly it is called the North Bank because it represents the northern boundary of Lincolnshire.  On the north side, in Yorkshire they most likely call it the south bank but I don’t know that for sure.

Humber Sea Wall

It was constructed as part of a programme of improved sea defences following the major 1953 North Sea flood that occurred on the night of Saturday 31st January. The deadly floods struck the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm over the North Sea caused a storm tide and the combination of wind, high tide, and low pressure led to a water level of up to twenty feet above normal sea levels and waves overwhelmed sea defences and caused extensive flooding.  In the United Kingdom over three hundred people were killed, farms and properties were destroyed and thousands of animals were drowned.

There were no weather problems today and as we cycled east from Immingham towards Grimsby the water to our left was flat calm and the industrial areas to the north were basking in Spring sunshine.  Tug boats and cargo ships passed by on the estuary.  Absence of rain for almost two months meant the pumping stations that drain the land were idle.

Humber 01

Pumping stations are important in this part of the country where the land is mostly at or barely just above the level of the sea. The roads and lanes have giveaway names like South Marsh Road, North Marsh Road and so on. In the hierarchy of water management, the Environment Agency is responsible for main rivers like the Humber but within their districts organisations called Internal Drainage Boards are responsible for major drainage channels to manage water levels for land management, flood risk, irrigation and environmental protection.

The pumping stations were quiet but the country still needs electricity so the energy plant was humming away and people are still disposing of rubbish so the Council incinerator was clattering flat out. This is probably the place to say that this is not an especially attractive stretch of coastline, mud not sand on one side of the wall and ugly concrete industry on the other.

As we cycled closer to the port of Grimsby we could see in more detail the Dock Tower.  This was 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.

Cycling Kim 002

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 Bristol or Newcastle or Manchester 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.

It isn’t possible to get to the Dock Tower from the west because of the high levels of security at the Docks so we were obliged to turn around and cycle back the way that we had come.  By the time we got back home we had cycled about twelve miles or so.  Kim had a shower. I cracked a can of lager.

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Beverley, What’s In A Name?

The origins of the East Yorkshire town of Beverley can be traced back to the time of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria in the seventh  century when it was called known as Inderawuda (meaning “in the wood of the men of Deira”), later, in the tenth century the  name of the town was changed to Bevreli or Beverlac, meaning beaver-clearing or beaver-lake a reference to the colonies of beavers in the River Hull at the time.

I always find it interesting how far the name of an English town or city has travelled world-wide.  In the United States the U.S. Board on Geographic names have for some reason dropped the third ‘e’ but there is a Beverly in Chicago, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Washington and West Virginia.  Beverly Hills in California is named after Beverly, Massachusetts so can indirectly be included in the list.

In Canada, as in USA the drop the third ‘e’ in Beverly, Toronto but in Australia they retain the correct spelling in Beverley, Adelaide and also in a small town in Western Australia.

Today the town retains some unusual street names…

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Yorkshire – Beverley, Two Churches and a Market

Skipsea Rain

On the final morning at Skipsea Sands Holiday Park we woke to overcast skies and rain, it seemed that we had the best of the weather, this is the problem with an English Summer, it can be all over in just a week.  The golden corn field was now a dirty brown.  No breakfast on the balcony this morning so we packed our bags and left.

We arrived in Beverley in the late morning and by the time we had interpreted the complicated car park payment process at a pay and display machine the sky was blue, the sun was shining and a day that started needing a raincoat now only required shirt-sleeves.

The name of the town came into use sometime in the tenth century and I always find it interesting how far the name of an English town or city has travelled world-wide.  In the United States the U.S. Board on Geographic names have for some reason dropped the third ‘e’ but there is a Beverly in Chicago, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Washington and West Virginia.  Beverly Hills in California is named after the English town so can indirectly be included in the list.

In Canada, as in USA the drop the third ‘e’ in Beverly, Toronto but in Australia they retain the correct spelling in Beverley, Adelaide and in a small town in Western Australia.

Beverley Market Place

The place was busy and we followed a stream of pedestrians who seemed to know where they were going and arrived quite quickly at the Market Place.  Ordinarily I would not find this an especially thrilling experience, even now after nearly sixty years I can recall being dragged around Leicester Market by my mother on a weekly basis, but Beverley Market, I have to say, was quite wonderful, busy, vibrant and full of life and I was so overcome by the moment I was talked into a rash purchase of a rusty garden ornament for £25 – my entire pocket money for the week.

I knew it was going to take me a while to get over that moment of shopping weakness so I steered us all away from the market and towards the ‘Georgian Quarter’ which I hoped would give me the time that I needed to recover my composure.

Georgian Quarter

The ‘Georgian Quarter’ is not a huge area, the main road ‘North Bar Within’ is barely two hundred yards long but it has been well preserved and is flanked with elegant town houses with handsome front doors with gleaming brass furniture.

It is rare that one small town boasts two wonderful historic churches, but that is the case for the East Yorkshire town of Beverley. The most famous of the two is without doubt the Minster, a wonderful monastic church but at the other end of town, just inside the last surviving five hundred year old town gate, stands the glorious medieval church of St Mary.

Sir Tatton Sykes, a prolific nineteenth century church restorer, once famously remarked that the west front of St Mary’s was ‘unequalled in England and almost without rival on the continent of Europe’. Now, Sir Tatton may be forgiven for seeing the church with the rose-tinted spectacles of a local enthusiast but the truth is that St Mary’s is a beautiful church, and must surely warrant inclusion in any list of the great parish churches of England.

St Mary's Beverley

We had come to see the Minster of course but finding ourselves outside the church it seemed rude not to pay a visit and we were soon very glad that we did.  It is an eye-catching structure from outside and the doorway is framed with stone carvings of gargoyles with wild, scary faces and bulging eyes but once past the ugly bug invitation committee we passed into an elaborate and sumptuous interior which is in contrast to the normal austerity of Anglican churches.

Inside the church is a treasure chest of stained glass windows, two magnificent ceiling paintings, one of the constellation of stars and another of Anglo-Saxon Kings of England and a trail of stone carvings that requires a printed map to try and find them all.  Most famous of all is perhaps the carving of the March Hare, a rabbit dressed as a Pilgrim and said to have inspired Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland although I can find no real evidence to support that particular claim.

After lunch in smart little town centre café we made our way now along busy streets with buskers and street entertainers until we reached the Minster.  A magnificent Gothic structure which towers over the whole of the town.

Beverley Minster

Minster is an honorific title given to particular churches in England most usually those that have been associated with monastic life sometime in the past.  Church hierarchy is a complicated matter because a Minster falls between Church and Cathedral but can confusingly stray either way.  Beverley Mister is a Church but thirty miles away York Minster is a Cathedral.  Beverley has a Bishop but he is based in York.  In London, Westminster is a Cathedral and an Abbey and a Minster and down the road there is a Roman Catholic Cathedral of the same name.

It is an impressive building for sure and inside there are soaring columns, high vaulted windows, chapels and tombs but decoration is sparse and compared to St Mary’s Church it seemed strangely austere and functional.  We stayed for a while until we were spotted taking photographs without a permit (£3) from which we were excused when I pointed out that my granddaughter had spent an inflated £15 in the gift shop and then we left.

By now it was late afternoon so we returned to the market to collect our garden ornament purchases and then we left Beverley and made our way back to the Humber Bridge and back to Grimsby.  It had been an excellent few days in East Yorkshire.

garden today 04

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Thursday Doors – Beverley Minster in Yorkshire

Beverley Minster Door

It may not be the tallest or the widest or even the longest but in terms of floor space Beverley Minster is the biggest Parish Church in England.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

The National Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby

Ross Tiger Grimsby Fishing Heritage Museum

“Grimsby is a town that shuns the notion of heritage” – Daily Telegraph

I think this statement by the Daily Telegraph is a little unfair.  No, it is very unfair.  Grimsby is a lot like Hull and bear in mind here that the city of Hull on the opposite side of the Humber Estuary was named UK Capital of Culture for 2017 even though no one in England, except for the awarding judges that is, could really understand why except for the fact that Coventry in the West Midlands came second!

In my last post I was in Hull at the Fishing and Trawler Visitor Centre Today and today my plan was to visit the National Fishing Heritage Centre which is where I take all visitors when they come to see us in Grimsby.

It is a very fine museum run by the local council.  It recreates life in 1960s Grimsby in and around the dock area and then takes visitors on board a trawler to experience life at sea in pursuit of the cod.  It provides an insight to life in Grimsby when it was the biggest and most important fishing port in the World but as I mentioned before in a previous post this has all gone now.

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Read the Full Story…

The Fishing and Trawler Visitor Centre in Hull

Hull Docks and Arctic Corsair

I had been to the Museum Quarter in the City of Hull before, to the Street Life Museum and the History Museum so on this occasion I bypassed these and went first to the small independent Fishing and Trawler Visitor Centre in an old ramshackle dockside warehouse.

It is a  wonderfully eclectic place, the sort of museum that rejects no contributory exhibits, finds a place for everything and piles them up in random order all over the place, a sort of alternative to the minimalist National Gallery of London or the Uffizi Gallery of Florence.

No entrance ticket to show you because admission is free.

It was an entertaining visit, run by volunteer ex-fishermen oozing with enthusiasm, one of those places where, if you show the slightest dull glimmer of interest, the volunteers will latch on and beat you into submission with stories of the fishing industry and life at sea.

Fishing Mural Hull

I told them that I was a visitor from Grimsby which claims to have once been the biggest fishing port in the Worldand this immediately presented a challenge to their bragging rights.  They were keen to point out that Grimsby may have been a big port but Hull had much bigger trawlers on account of the larger capacity of its docks.  Not being a genuine Grimbarian I was careful not to take sides in this potentially dangerous debate.

The Visitor Centre is close to the banks of the River Hull and close by is the trawler Arctic Corsair one of the last side-winder fishing boats to operate out of Hull before the Cod Wars with Iceland and the ignominious collapse of the UK fishing industry.

I liked this place, I liked the bric-a-brac exhibits, the scrapbook newspaper cuttings and the detailed models of the old Hull fishing docks (now sadly a shopping mall).

I finished my visit by strolling along the banks of the River Hull, a dirty muddy estuary the colour of milk chocolate with rotting dockside buildings and crumbling brick wharfs which was once a busy fishing port but which now is gradually breaking down into an open-air museum of decaying brickwork, twisted metal and sagging piers with a thousand untold stories still to tell.

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Tea Towel Souvenirs, Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire

cleethorpes tea towl souvenir

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 almost certainly 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.

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More posts about Cleethorpes…

Three Trains – Cleethorpes, Amusement Arcades and the English Pier
Three Trains – I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside!

The Fishing Murals of Hull

5397489_adab349eFishing Mural Hull

The city of Hull was the 2017 UK Capital of Culture which came as rather a surprise to a lot of people but not to me as it was in competition with the city of Coventry which is a truly dreadful place!

As part of the celebrations the City came up with an idea to bring in tourists – wall paintings to commemorate the fishing heritage of Hull.

One day in May I crossed the River Humber and went to see them.

Fifty year ago the Hull trawler fleet was the biggest fishing fleet in the world (see footnote) and deep sea fishing in Arctic waters was amongst the most dangerous work anywhere. A trawlerman was seventeen times more likely to be killed at work than the average British industrial worker including coal miners.

At the beginning of 1968 some of the worst ever winter storms hit the Icelandic fishing grounds. In the space of three weeks three Hull trawlers were lost and a total of fifty-eight crew members died.

Hull Fishing Mural

The St Romanus sailed from Hull on January 10th 1968 without a full and experienced crew, most significantly without a properly qualified radio operator to work the ship’s main transmitter. This left communications to the relatively inexperienced skipper with his much less powerful bridge-mounted radio telephone. The last contact was a radio telephone call on the evening of the day they sailed. Despite hearing nothing the owners did not raise the alarm until January 26th.

A life raft found on January 13th had come from the St Romanus. A search began, but by January 30th the families were told that there was little hope for the vessel and her crew.

The second trawler the Kingston Peridot had also sailed from Hull on January 10th with a crew of twenty and by January 26th she was fishing off north-east Iceland in really bad weather.

The ship radioed another trawler that she was having difficulties with ice build-up and moved east to join them. No further contact was established and on January 29th one of her life rafts was washed ashore. News of her loss reached Hull on January 30th just as hope was fading for the crew of St Romanus.

The third lost trawler, the Ross Cleveland, sailed on January 20th, before the loss of the first two trawlers became known. She was bound for the north coast of Iceland.

Conditions were atrocious and on February 3rd she made for a relatively sheltered inlet on Iceland’s north-west coast. A number of other ships were gathered there to wait out the long and hurricane-force snowy storm. A dangerous amount of ice was forming on the vessels superstructure and radar masts. The captain attempted to move her to a safer position but the ship was overwhelmed by the wind and sea, capsized and sank.

News of the Ross Cleveland sinking reached Hull on February and at first it was believed all aboard had died, but on February 6th Harry Eddom, the mate, washed ashore in a life raft barely still alive, the other two men in the raft had died of exposure.

Lilian Bilocca Wall Mural

The news of the three lost trawlers devastated the whole of the Hull fishing community but a group of women fishermen’s family members decided to do something more than mourn – they would fight to make the industry safer.

Lillian Bilocca, Christine Jensen, Mary Denness and Yvonne Blenkinsop called a meeting which resulted in the formation of the Hessle Road Women’s Committee. The group became known as the Headscarf Revolutionaries. Bilocca and her women comrades led a direct action campaign to prevent undermanned trawlers from putting to sea, particularly when the ship had no properly qualified radio operator.

Bilocca was a working class woman of Hull. She married a Maltese sailor who worked as a trawlerman. Her father, husband and son all worked on the Hull fishing trawlers. She worked on-shore filleting the catch.

They gathered over ten thousand signatures on a petition (that was a lot pre internet and social media) for a fishermen’s charter and sent to the Minister for Fisheries in Harold Wilson’s government.

As well as radio operators the women had other demands including improved weather forecasts, better training for trainee crew, more safety equipment and a mother ship with medical facilities to accompany the fleet.

Eventually Prime Minister Harold Wilson met the women and subsequently government ministers granted all of their demands.

9-lil_bilocca_mural

Lillian received death threats from some of the trawler owners and letters telling her not to interfere in men’s work. She lost her job and was blacklisted and she never found work in the fishing industry again.

In 1990 Hull City Council unveiled a plaque inscribed: “In recognition of the contributions to the fishing industry by the women of Hessle Road, led by Lillian Bilocca, who successfully campaigned for better safety measures following the loss of three Hull trawlers in 1968.”

This brave woman should have been included in the One Hundred Greatest Britons but that was never going to happen, the list only included thirteen women anyway!

This is not Hull, there are no statues of Lillian, it is a statue in the Portuguese city of Póvoa de Varzim but it seems to fit the story quite well.

Fishwives Pavoa de Varzim

Footnote: The port town of Grimsby on the south bank of the Humber makes a similar claim and they are probably both correct because they use different criteria.

This is my account of a day out in Grimsby

Grimsby Fishing Fleet