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Archaeology Matters

Grimsby Ice Factory among 7 most endangered heritage sites in Europe

The facing of the Grimsby Ice Factory

The Ice Factory dates from 1900 and is a substantial industrial building within Grimsby Docks. Grimsby was the world’s foremost fishing port at the turn of the 20th century with a fishing fleet of some 700 boats. The factory supplied ice for fish packing and onwards transportation around the UK to Europe and beyond. While Grimsby’s fishing industry has declined in recent years, the Ice Factory remains the most striking physical testament to the greatness of the town. It is understood to be the earliest surviving ice factory in the United Kingdom.

The Ice Factory has been in a state of serious decline since its closure in 1990, with no maintenance or repairs. The roof is severely damaged, allowing water into the interiors and exposing the magnificent machinery – much of which is still in place.

The Council for British Archaeology supported the nomination for Grimsby’s Ice Factory to be included on the World Monuments Fund (WMF) watch list in 2013, leading to its inclusion the following year.

Report on WMF listing in 2014 (93.8K, .PDF)
Our report on the Ice Factory's inclusion on the WMF Watch List in 2014 from our Members' Newsletter.

The area surrounding the Ice Factory - known as the Kasbah - was designated a Conservation Area in October last year, following a high-profile campaign led by SAVE in 2016 to save a street of 19th and 20th century buildings there. However, the Ice Factory was not included within the boundaries of the new Conservation Area. SAVE then nominated the Grade II* listed Ice Factory in 2017 due to widespread local and national concerns about the derelict and deteriorating condition of this historically significant building.

Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE said: “This selection of the Ice Factory shows not only how important this magnificent building is in Grimsby – but it highlights its national and European significance too. The deterioration of the Ice Factory has been going on for too long – and we hope this high level European expertise will help the owners and local groups find new uses for it – and reveal its potential as a catalyst for regeneration of this part of the docks.”

Europa Nostra represents national and local heritage groups, and lobbies to protect heritage sites across the continent. Working with the European Investment Bank Institute, they will visit the Ice Factory over the next few months, and provide technical advice, identify possible sources of funding and mobilise wide support. A specialist team will formulate an action plan for the site by the end of year.

You can read the full Europa Nostra Press release, detailing all the sites on the Europa Nostra website and the World Monuments Fund have an in depth look at the site on their website.

Some of the industrial workings of the ice factory.
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