The Grimsby Ice Factory is a unique survivor of the Victorian industrial era. The Grade II* structure is the earliest and largest-known surviving ice factory in the world, and the sole example from this period to retain its machinery. In its heyday Grimsby was one of the busiest fishing ports in the world, and its ice factory was built with an attention to detail worthy of the best Victorian industrial architecture.
Grimsby’s livelihood was tied to seafaring and trade since its establishment by the Danes in the ninth century, but gradual silting of its harbor led to a period of decline. The modern renaissance of the seaport began in the middle of the nineteenth century, catalyzed by the arrival of the railway in 1848 and the opening of the Grimsby Docks in 1852. The Grimsby Ice Factory was created to meet the growing demand for ice to supply merchants and fishing boats.
Built in 1900–03, the ice factory came to produce 1,200 tons of ice per day at its peak.
The surrounding precinct of docks, quays, transportation infrastructure, industrial facilities, and shops became a bustling hub of commercial activity known as the Kasbah.
How we helped
Grimsby remains a major port today, but the ice factory closed in 1990 due to decreased demand. Following decades of abandonment, community members set up the Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust in 2010.
The founders’ goals were to adaptively reuse the ice factory and promote the revitalization of the Kasbah, which still maintains some traditional fishmonger businesses. Current proposals recognise the potential of the building complex to become a cultural and leisure hub for the town. The campaign has energized many stakeholders, but increased public and private support is needed to address the challenges posed by this sort of historic urban redevelopment.
Since The Watch
In September 2014, community members participated in Watch Day for the Grimsby Ice Factory and Kasbah. Activities included a treasure hunt for children and a lecture on the history of the ice factory. Video interviews with former employees, recorded during the last days of production at the factory, were shown.
In May 2016, the North East Lincolnshire council voted to demolish four derelict dock buildings associated with Grimsby’s fishing heritage. Despite strong objections from SAVE Britain’s Heritage as well as Historic England, the Victorian Society, the Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust, World Monuments Fund, and hundreds of people who signed a petition, the buildings will be demolished. According to plans, the buildings will be replaced by facilities that will support the growing offshore wind industry.