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Theatre plan for historic Grimsby Ice Factory

UK: A London-based businessman is behind new plans to rescue the historic Grimsby Ice factory and turn it into a 1,400-capacity theatre venue.

The plans revealed by businessman Tom Shutes would retain the surviving antique refrigeration equipment, including four 90-year-old J&E Hall ammonia compressors, and make them a feature of the new building.

According to Grimsby Live, Shutes’ proposals for the ice factory have been through the pre-application planning process, and the new theatre would be funded through a public/private partnership.

The plans for the Grimsby Dock area includes a new stadium for Grimsby Town football club, adjacent to the rejuvenated ice factory (right)

Shutes is involved in the £90m Grimsby Town deal, launched in 2018, to redevelop the town and the derelict dock area. The plans also include moving Grimsby Town FC to a new stadium on the docks, adjacent to the ice factory.

“What’s interesting about the factory is that it’s actually the machinery that’s listed, not the building, which is really unusual,” Tom Shutes told Grimsby Live.

The theatre plans include making a feature of the protected J&E Hall compressors

“The second thing is that all of the machinery that’s historically important is fixed to the walls, by and large, so we can leave all the machinery alone, restore it, clean it up, and it will then basically be the internal fabric of this really beautiful theatre environment.”

Opened in 1901, the Grimsby Ice Factory was the largest factory of its kind in the world, supplying ice to one of the busiest fishing fleets in the largest fishing port in the world. 

Boarded up and derelict for the last 30 years, it still contains an array of historic ice making equipment including four J&E Hall ammonia compressors, installed in 1931 to replace the original steam-driven machines.

The J&E Hall compressors still in situ

The four-cylinder, 16.5in dia, 15in stroke, J&E Hall compressors operated at a speed of 250rpm and remain, rusting in-situ, in a dedicated plant room. A similar size J&E Hall machine was added in the 1950s and is elsewhere in the factory.

A three-part history of the factory and its equipment can found here:

Part 1: Iconic refrigeration frozen in time
Part 2: Frozen in time
Part 3: Grimsby Ice Factory – the early years

Related stories:

Government backs new Ice Factory study – 29 November 2018
UK: The threatened historic Grimsby Ice factory has received government assistance to part fund a new feasibility study to assess its current condition and how it can be best preserved. Read more…

Ice Factory thrown heritage lifeline – 15 March 2018
UK: Efforts to save the historic Grimsby Ice Factory have been thrown a major lifeline by being named as one of the most endangered heritage sites in Europe. Read more…

Ice Factory is “most endangered” site16 January 2018
UK: The Grimsby Ice Factory, with its historic refrigeration equipment, has been shortlisted as one of the most endangered heritage sites in Europe. Read more…

Heritage battle closes on Ice Factory – 1 August 2016
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. Read more…

Ice Factory denied lottery funding – 27 May 2014
UK: The Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust (GGIFT) has been unsuccessful in its bid for £11m of Heritage Lottery funding. Read more…

Grimsby Ice Factory on Monuments Watch – 8 October 2013
UK: The Grimsby Ice Factory, with its historic, irreplaceable Grade ll* listed refrigeration equipment, has been selected as one of the World’s most treasured places by the New York based World Monuments Fund. Read more…

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