Recently voted the worst place to live in the UK, Grimsby is nothing like the booze- and drugs-riddled hellhole that documentaries like Skint or the new movie Grimsby (aka The Brothers Grimsby) would have you believe. Yeah, there are problems – as in many Northern towns cut adrift by successive governments – but by golly there are plenty of reasons to move there, beyond being able to buy a four-bed house on a leafy, tree-lined avenue for the sort of money that’d get you a cupboard under the stairs in London. Here’s nine of them, for starters.
1. That’s Haddock, Not Cod
Once at the heart of Britain’s fishing industry, Grimsby saw its fleet and major source of employment decimated by the Cod Wars and EU quota system, but any visitor to the area is still assured of a top plate of fish and chips. Plump for Steel’s Cornerhouse (actually in the adjoining resort town of Cleethorpes), a traditional fish restaurant serving battered haddock of huge proportions. Order a “large” and be prepared to see your meal arrive with a series of side plates – not just for the accompanying bread and butter but also the overspill of chips and tail of the fish too.
And that’s haddock, not cod. Everyone in Grimsby knows that haddock is better.
Did Sacha really say the C word in #GrimsbyMovie?? We eat #Haddock in #Grimsby, not #Cod! Just ask @SteelsRest ;) pic.twitter.com/IQE9js44GHFebruary 25, 2016
2. We Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside
Strictly speaking both Grimsby and Cleethorpes are coastal rather than seaside towns, as they sit on the Humber estuary, but the beach at Cleethorpes offers holidaymakers several miles of golden sand and blue-flag waters. A hundred years ago most of South Yorkshire took their holidays in Cleethorpes (or “Meggies”, as it’s known locally). There’s a recently renovated pier too, offering restaurants, bars and entertainment where until recently the town’s youth gathered for alcopop-fuelled scrapping and courting.
3. Our Dock Tower Is Bigger than Your Dock Tower
Grimsby has a wealth of buildings and structures linking back to its industrial past but none compares with the Dock Tower. Based on the Torre del Mangia in Siena (opens in new tab), it stands 94m high and was built with over one million bricks. Unlike its Italian inspiration there are no bells and no clock – instead it holds huge water tanks, the source of hydraulic power for the docks machinery.
If you’re arriving by road, the tower is the first thing one sees from the A180 and it is quite, quite beautiful. The Victoria Mill and Ice Factory, also by the docks, are similarly eye-catching.
4. This Will Make You Green with Envy
As recently reported, Grimsby is the greenest town in England, generating 28% of its electricity from green sources such as wind, solar biomass and landfill gas. Even Brighton, with its Green Party MP, does not come close. London by comparison generates a pitiful 0.06% of its electricity from such sources and by my reckoning these figures make Grimsby almost 500 times better than the capital. It’s something that Grimbarians have known for years, but is now a fact backed by science.
5. Lions Roam(ed) our Streets
Yeah, this happened. Back in 1991, four lions broke free from Chipperfield’s circus and ran amok in the town centre, mauling a local man who was saved by a member of the constabulary ramming the beast with his patrol car. After a few hours of freedom entertaining the locals, the lions were eventually captured by circus employees, one of whom was still wearing clown make-up.
6. We Only Sing When We’re Fishing
Photograph: Lee Blease (opens in new tab)
Grimsby Town football club, the Mariners, are a proper club, a club at the centre of the community. When the town is doing well, the club does well. Right now we’re recovering from multiple relegations but we’re on the up. A good young manager in Paul Hurst, a talented squad and big crowds are building momentum for a promotion back to the Football League. Blundell Park is a proper stadium, too, abutted by the Humber on one side and surrounded by terraced houses on the others, it offers football the way it ought to be experienced – up close and personal.
Photograph: Lee Blease (opens in new tab)
7. We, the People
Grimbarians are used to hard times, hard work and displaying a sense of unity in the face of adversity. Whether sticking two fingers up to the recent Channel 4 documentary Skint or the new Sacha Baron Cohen movie, the town and its people turn the other cheek to lazy stereotyping. (Sometimes – this gem is from former Great Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell.)
There’s a warmth about the town and the people that can’t be broken down. We’ve seen and heard it all before and you’re going to have to work harder to get a rise out of us.
8. Telling UKIP to Do One
In the run-up to the 2015 general election, UKIP played on fears about unemployment and immigration. Nigel Farage did some spluttering and grandstanding about Grimsby, promising to revitalise the fishing industry if the town would get behind his candidate Victoria Ayling, a former Tory who’d been hit by a number of scandals. The town saw through this even before Ayling’s declaration that sustainable energies such as wind would run out, and elected Labour’s Melanie Onn with a chunky 4.5k majority. Even when times are hard, there’s no place for lowest common denominator politics in Grimsby.
9. It Proves Jeremy Clarkson Is Occasionally Right
OK, it’s not strictly in Grimsby, but the Humber Bridge is a hell of a sight and if you’re nearby you should pay it a visit. It was the longest of its type in the world when it opened in 1981 and although it’s been overtaken by six other bridges this one is still by far best, despite having Hull at the other end.
Jeremy Clarkson said about it: “When it was proposed, it was considered stupid to spend millions [on it] and it probably was. But we ended up with what, to my mind, is the most beautiful bridge in the world.” Well said, sir.
Rich Mills grew up in Grimsby but is currently exiled in Devon. While planning his next trip back to north-east Lincolnshire he writes for independent Grimsby Town fanzine, Cod Almighty (opens in new tab).
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