From Restricted Tours to Open Exploration: The Evolution of Grimsby Docks

This past weekend, I paid a visit to the 2023 Grimsby Docks Open Day, and I just want to say what an incredible day it was.

I remember attending the 2019 Grimsby Docks Open Day when we were shuttled onto the Docks on Vintage buses from the Fishing Heritage Centre; we literally weren’t allowed to drive into the area by ourselves. We were only allowed to venture as part of an organised tour, and we were only allowed to go to specific areas. We weren’t allowed to look inside many of the buildings and it was all incredibly controlled.

Step into 2023, and it took us a good 10 minutes sitting in a queue of traffic as we all struggled to get parked. It was so amazing to see such a huge number of people walking around the docks, and even more exciting was the fact that this was the first time we were allowed to walk around on our own. Of course, some areas are still off-limits for a variety of reasons but this was the most freedom I have ever experienced on the docks, and this is definitely a great sign of things to come.

Grimsby Dock Tower in front of a blue sky awash with clouds.

Moving forward, we need to shift our perspective away from dwelling on the past and lamenting the sorry state of the docks. While it’s true that the situation shouldn’t have deteriorated to the extent it has done, it’s now firmly in the past, and dwelling on it won’t change anything. Instead, our focus should be on moving forward and revitalising the area.

Transforming Grimsby Docks

One common point of contention is the perception that nothing is happening in the docks. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the docks regularly since 2019, except for the disruptions of 2020, and I’ve witnessed the gradual changes taking place. Admittedly, the pace of change and regeneration has been slow, but it’s important to bear in mind that the buildings were in such a bad state that extensive effort is required to restore them.

Transforming these buildings is a time-consuming process that involves meticulous planning, hiring contractors, addressing various issues, enduring late nights, long hours, stress, and even tears before each structure can even begin to regain its former glory. Therefore, it’s crucial to be patient and understand that this kind of work doesn’t happen overnight but is a testament to the dedication and hard work invested in bringing the area back to life.

On my first visit to Grimsby docks in 2019, the only businesses I was aware of on the docks were The Great Escape, Alfred Enderby and a couple of smaller places I couldn’t name. In 2023, we now have Coffee on the Docks, Get Crafty on the Docks, Dale Mackie, Grimbarians, and Turntable Gallery as prominent features, with more gradually moving in.

Let’s Talk about The Kasbah!

And then we get to the term Kasbah! Please can we stop the incessant complaining about what the council has chosen to call the area? It doesn’t matter that you’ve never heard it be called that in your lifetime because guess what? You have now. That’s what it’s name is in 2023 and that is what it is going to be called moving forward. It is just a name so that we can all identify the area. It isn’t important. It isn’t affecting you or your life. So please just stop. 

As a side note, there is historical evidence that the area was indeed called the Kasbah, dating back to a time long before most of the moaners were even born. However, let’s not get into that debate today.

We also need to stop moaning about how sad it is there’s no fishing industry on Grimsby docks now. The industry died long before I was born (I’m nearly 40)…it is long overdue time to move on and just accept that our fishing industry is in the past. We need to accept that our fishing industry, along with the days of easily securing employment, affordable housing, and corporal punishment, belongs to a bygone era.


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