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Heritage battle closes on Ice Factory


UK: The historic Grimsby Ice factory and its unique 85-year-old refrigeration equipment is more exposed as nearby Victorian buildings on Grimsby docks look set to be demolished.

Heritage groups have appealed to Associated British Ports to stop the demolition of the 19th and early-20th century Cosalt buildings on Fish Dock Road, in Grimsby’s historic Kasbah, which borders the Grade II* listed Grimsby Ice Factory. The buildings were once the headquarters of the now defunct Cosalt Refrigeration.

Despite strong objections to the demolition from SAVE Britain’s Heritage as well as Historic England (the government’s advisers on heritage), the World Monuments Fund, The Victorian Society, Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust and hundreds of people who signed a petition to protect the buildings, approval for their demolition was granted in May 2016.

A legal challenge to stop the demolition was rejected by the Court of Appeal at the end of last week and the buildings are now set to be demolished to make way for the open storage of wind turbines.

While the historic Grimsby Ice Factory is still protected by its Grade II* listing, plans to save the building and its machinery and turn it into a centre for local cultural, educational and leisure activities, included wider plans for the inclusion of the Cosalt buildings and the historic Kasbah.

In an open letter, printed in The Times newspaper today, six heritage organisations including SAVE have called on Associated British Ports to halt the demolition of historic buildings within Grimsby Docks.

The letter has been signed by SAVE, the Ancient Monuments Society, The Victorian Society, World Monuments Fund Britain, Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust, and calls for the buildings to be refurbished and used as an economic driver for the town.

The letter reads:

Sir, We urge Associated British Ports to work with North East Lincolnshire Council and other parties to halt the demolition and neglect of the historic buildings in their ownership at Grimsby docks. The 19th and early-20th century buildings in the historic Kasbah – including the Grade II* listed Grimsby Ice Factory – are a survivor of Grimsby’s heritage and its place as the largest fishing port in the world. The Ice Factory is on the World Monuments Fund watch list, and Historic England has singled out the architectural and historic qualities of the dock buildings.

More than 750 people have signed a petition to designate a conservation area, and businesses in the docks support the re-use of the existing buildings. We believe these buildings could have a viable future as an economic driver for the town, and that refurbishment options have not been sufficiently considered.

Pristine: the J&E Hall compressors shortly after installation in the 1930s
Grimsby J&E hall
Neglected: the majestic compressors have been silent for 25 years

Grimsby Ice Factory was built in 1901 to provide ice for the town’s flourishing fishing industry and, at one time, was the largest such facility in the world. The factory closed in 1990 and is now derelict but the significance of this Grade II* listed building today is that it is the last surviving example of industrial-scale ice-making with its equipment still in-situ. Amongst the surviving refrigeration equipment is four huge J&E Hall ammonia compressors from the 1930s.

The Cosalt buildings, which are not listed or in a conservation area, are seen as an important part of the historic port of Grimsby, and form one half of the principal street in the port.

Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE said: “These are not the first buildings in Grimsby Docks to be threatened with demolition and we are extremely concerned about the potential piecemeal destruction of such an important historic site.”

On a visit to the Ice Factory last month, Marcus Binney, president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage was shocked to find large gaping holes in the roof of the Ice Factory. “Associated British Ports claim they take their architectural heritage seriously, yet nothing appears to have been done to stop rain pouring in through the roof,” he said. “This constitutes the most callous neglect of an outstanding listed building we have seen in years”.

Related stories:

Grimsby Ice Factory – Part 3

Grimsby Ice Factory – Part 3

Grimsby Ice Factory – Part 3

Grimsby Ice Factory – Part 3

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