Grimsby to make a comeback? Published: 04 September, 2007
GRIMSBY, once hailed as the world’s greatest fishing port, could be about to make a comeback – but in name only.
For the past decade the town which gave the fish finger to the world has, in civic terms, been neatly hidden within the name of North East Lincolnshire Council, which also includes the adjoining seaside town of Cleethorpes.
Now the local authority is planning to restore the name to Great Grimsby and Cleethorpes Borough Council, if it proves popular after an extensive consultation exercise with local people and local industry.
The reputation of Grimsby was built firmly on fish and fish processing. Although most of the trawlers – they once numbered over 300 distant water vessels – have now gone, over 7,000 people are still employed in fish processing and anciliiary activities such as refrigeration and seafood transport.
Young’s Seafood, which proudly proclaims its Grimsby heritage in its TV advertising,has its international headquarters in the town. Other big fish processing names include Coldwater, Seachill (both Icelandic owned), Five Star Fish, Flatfish and its parent British Seafood. Most of the fish is imported from Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and Ireland, although around 20 boats continue to operate from the port. Grimsby created the UK’s frozen food industry and pioneered the world development of chilled fish following an approach from Marks & Spencer to Mike Beckett, manager of a Ross Young’s factory over 30 years ago. Grimsby Fish Market continues to handle fish worth million of pounds most days of the week and Grimsby based Quayside Transport is Britain’s largest road fish distributor.
Council leader Andrew De Freitas said that whenever he went abroad people immediately recognised the name of Grimsby, but most had not heard of North East Lincolnshire. He thought that restoring the name would be good for business, attracting new food and seafood investment. But there would first be a consultation with the local inhabitants, using Grimsby’s evening paper and local radio stations. No consultants would be employed and the cost of the exercise would be kept to minimum.
Although Grimsby is an ancient town, much of its modern progress is due to its suitability as a fishing station for the North Sea fleets, and to the facilities offered by the railway for the conveyance of the fish to populous centres. Five Hull trawlers made the town their headquarters in 1858, and since that year it has become the most important fishing port in Britain. It still has large docks, and conducts an important direct trade with the Continent.
The fishing and food processing industry grew rapidly in the send part of the 20th century, especially after the development of refrigeration and freezing.
The port was founded by an invading Dane called Grimm and ‘by’ is the Danish or Viking term for village – hence Grimsby. The Vikings are still coming, but with Icelandic investment money rather than swords.
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