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Grimsby’s changing landscape

Using rarely seen images from the archives of Historic England, the report offers a pictorial view of just how Grimsby’s central urban areas have evolved, the impact of the Second World War on the town, the changing face of the waterside and the importance of its historical buildings.

Author Matthew Oakey, Historic England’s Aerial Investigation & Mapping Manager (North), used extensive research work already carried out by colleagues within his organisation to put together the collection, which focuses on a 2.5 sq. km. area lying within what is known as the Great Grimsby HAZ, (Heritage Action Zone).

The HAZ is a project being led by Historic England, North East Lincolnshire Council and its regeneration partners ENGIE to investigate, preserve and promote Grimsby’s heritage, focusing on buildings and features of historic importance, whilst seeking to reconnect the town centre with the port area.

The work of the partners has already led to significant moves, including the awarding of the £1m PSiCA, (Partnership Schemes in Conservation Areas) grant, which is also supported by ABP, to repair and improve historic buildings on the Kasbah.

Speaking of the PSiCA programme, the council’s regeneration lead, Cllr John Fenty said: “When you walk around the Kasbah you can sense the history and the vibrancy that once existed, and you can see some of this from the report. By working together with other organisations, both public and private sector, we can achieve what we believe will be a wonderful outcome for this historic area of Grimsby, preserving our heritage whilst providing a spring board for new business occupation for the future.”

Highlights of Matthew’s pictorial report include an insight into the development of the port area, from a pre-war boom in the timber and coal trade – in 1911 more than 1.7 million tons of coal was passing through Grimsby docks – to the onset of vehicles.  During the war years, the report highlights the docks use as a base for the Royal Naval Patrol Service, housing the largest minesweeper fleet in the UK.

The fishing industry and its decline is charted, with the aerial report also focusing on the switch from rail to road and a radical reshaping of areas such as Alexandra Dock, before moving further into the urban areas and looking at businesses ranging from brewing, to the flour mills and the emergence of retail.

In his conclusion, Matthew says: “The aerial photographs held in the Historic England Archive provide a fascinating record of landscape change in Grimsby spanning almost a century.

“Early Aerofilms images capture a town at the centre of the world’s fishing industry but also record other trades and businesses that were essential to Grimsby’s economy. The impact of air raids during the Second World War began to alter the character of the town – particularly in the East Marsh where the greatest damage occurred – but it was in the latter half of the 20th century that the most significant reshaping of the town can be seen.”

The full report is available to view online:

An interactive map looking in more details at some of the historic buildings and places of importance within the HAZ is also available at:

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