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Historic ice factory's future in the balance

THE future of a historic ice factory is to be discussed at a public meeting in Grimsby on Thursday, September 24.
The former Grimsby Ice Company building now stands derelict but for 90 years it was a vital cog in producing ice for the Grimsby fishing industry. Grade ll listed, it is on English Heritage's At Risk register.

Recognising that the factory was at 'immediate risk of further rapid deterioration', English Heritage is keen to save the building but, more importantly, to preserve what it recognises as the last surviving examples of early 20th century refrigeration equipment. This includes three massive four-cylinder compressors now laying silent and rusting, still in place in the decaying plant room.

Built in 1900, the factory once produced around 1,270 tonnes of ice per day and helped establish Grimsby as the largest fishing port in the world by the 1950's. Water was taken from local bore holes and and frozen in moulds. The 150kg blocks of ice were then turned into crushed ice and conveyed to the quay side and the waiting trawlers.

With the eventual demise of the Grimsby fishing industry, the factory finally closed in 1990. Since then its future has been the subject of much local discussion.

Speaking to ACR News, Giles Proctor, English Heritage's South and East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire architect, said: 'Our primary concern is for the building to be retained with a significant proportion of the ice-making machinery still in place.' He confirmed that the building was Grade ll listed principally because of the rarity of the refrigeration equipment.

Developers seeking to regenerate the site have previously found this to be a stumbling block to their plans.

Now the local Grimsby, Cleethorpes and District Civic Society is trying to bring all of the interested parties together to try and resolve the issue.

Its future will now be discussed in a meeting organised by the society, at Grimsby Town Hall on September 24. A video will be shown of the factory in its heyday and a discussion will take place by a panel including English Heritage, site owners Associated British Ports and Labour MP Austin Mitchell.

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