Press release: Associated British Ports bulldozes unique historic buildings on Grimsby Docks

9 September 2016

Associated British Ports (ABP), the owners of a fine set of Victorian and Edwardian buildings on Grimsby Docks, has begun major demolition today, despite pleas from five national heritage organisations to save and re-use them.

The six 19th and early 20th century buildings, collectively called the Cosalt Buildings, make up the principal street in an small area of historic streets known as the Kasbah, stated by Historic England, the government’s national heritage advisers, to be unique in the world.

There are nine listed buildings close to the site in the Kasbah - including the magnificent 1900 Grimsby Ice Factory, the earliest remaining building of its type in Britain. The area – all owned by ABP - has suffered from neglect for many years, and the Ice Factory, which is grade II * listed, is boarded up and has gaping holes in the roof.

Henrietta Billings, Director, SAVE Britain’s Heritage said: “This demolition shows a callous disregard for Grimsby’s world famous fishing heritage. There are examples across the country like Liverpool Docks and Gloucester Docks that show that heritage can be a prime driver for new development and regeneration – and for the local economy. The flattening of the Cosalt Buildings is a major opportunity lost.”

Marcus Binney, Executive President, SAVE Britain’s Heritage said: “This is a shocking example of a wasteful and needless demolition to frustrate the pleas of bodies such as SAVE, Historic England and the World Monuments Fund that the Colsalt Buildings are an important feature of Grimsby’s historic docks. It is all the more disgraceful as Associated British Ports has allowed no opportunity for a proper public record of the interiors to be made.”

Our campaign to save the buildings is supported by World Monuments Fund, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, The Victorian Society, The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, Ancient Monuments Society, The Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust and the Grimsby Traditional Fish Smokers Group. A petition to save the buildings gathered over 750 signatures and the campaign had been published in the national and local press.

SAVE maintains that the demolition of these lively, varied and well-detailed buildings will harm the setting and the context of the listed buildings on the other side of Fish Dock Road. This radical change is one which national policy states should be taken into account when considering planning applications.

The few remaining groups of historic buildings known as the Kasbah and the grade II* listed Ice Factory constitute a unique and irreplaceable testimony to Grimsby’s position over two centuries as the greatest fishing port in the world. Remarkably a small number of historic buildings in the Kasbah remain in constant use, notably as traditional family owned smokeries which supply leading hotels and restaurants.


Note for Editors:

1. For more information and images, please contact Henrietta Billings, Director: T: 020 7253 3500

2. Grimsby was one of England’s foremost ports in the late 19th century and early 20th century and is recognized as one of the most important surviving examples of the industrial scale fishing trade in England.

3. The buildings that are being demolished are referred to collectively as the Cosalt Buildings. They form one whole side of Fish Dock Road, the principal street in the Kasbah. They consist of 6 buildings, all of which reflect the different character of uses at this location: warehouses, factories, shops, and offices.

4. In their letter of objection regarding the demolition application, Historic England stated: “We advise that demolition of the Cosalt Buildings would:

- Harm the significance of the Ice Factory (grade II*), including through the loss of important views of the Ice Factory and Fish Dock Road together from within the enclosed street itself;

- Harm the significance of the Dock Tower (grade I), including through the loss of the Cosalt Buildings in important views of the tower from Fish Dock Road; 

- Severely harm the significance of the grade II listed buildings on Fish Dock Road itself, particularly through the loss of the whole of the other side of the street;

- Harm the significance of the other grade II listed buildings in the Kasbah.

- As heritage assets the Cosalt Buildings are irreplaceable and the impact of their demolition would be irreversible.”

5. SAVE has a long-standing interest in Grimsby Docks, and has been campaigning for their preservation and reuse for several years. In 2012 we worked with architect Graham Byfield to draw up an alternative vision for the site, showing how it could be revived and restored.

6. The World Monuments Fund included Grimsby Ice Factory and Kasbah in their 2014 Watch. Every two years the Watch draws international attention and support for some of the world’s most important and fragile cultural heritage. This nomination was accepted by WMF’s independent and international panel of experts because of the outstanding global significance of the site as a unique survivor of the Victorian industrial era.

7. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.