Grimsby is a fishing port in Lincolnshire, standing on the south bank of the mouth of the River Humber, on the east coast of England. It merges into the seaside town of Cleethorpes, and this conurbation and rural hinterland comprise the unitary Local Authority of North East Lincolnshire, also called Great Grimsby.
There has been a fishing settlement here for over 1000 years – “Grimsby” is a Viking name – and probably over 2000. It grew up at the point where a creek flowed out of the surrounding marshes into the Humber. The marshes were drained and became farmland in the 17th century but the town remained small until the industrial 19th century. Then the harbour was expanded to accommodate a thriving fishing fleet. The town’s civic buildings and sights of interest date from this period and cluster around this first dockland, the Alexandra and Old Fish Docks. Above all Grimsby and Cleethorpes owed their growth to the Victorian railway network, which carried away a boundless supply of fish to the nation’s dinner tables, and carried in Yorkshire coal for export, and holidaymakers keen to escape from their mills and collieries to the seaside.
Fishing and sea trade continued to expand in the 20th century and larger docks were built. These remain in use and are busy workplaces, not for casual sightseeing, though the port owner APH holds mid-summer open days. At its peak in the 1950s, Grimsby was the largest and busiest fishing port in the world. Related industries were the processing of fish and other food (Young’s, the seafood firm, are based here), maritime services, and haulage. The big decline began in the 1960s, when Iceland claimed rights to Atlantic fishing grounds (the “Cod Wars”) that British fisherman had traditionally used. And fish catches everywhere were dwindling because of overfishing, and restrictive European catch quotas were imposed. Grimsby was never a pretty town, but now it became very run-down, and its modern developments were ugly.
It has survived thanks to new industry along the Humber. Much of Britain’s oil comes ashore at nearby Immingham, to be refined and re-exported or distributed domestically. Many of the cars to burn that oil are imported via Killingholme. So, perhaps against the odds, Grimsby is nowadays this country’s largest port complex in terms of tonnage. But it has further suffered from the 21st century economic downturn, much remains to be done to regenerate its centre, and the big uncertainty in early 2018 is over the impact of “Brexit” on fishing and other maritime business.
Get in edit
By car edit
From the south leave the A1 at Newark, and follow the A46 north-east past Lincoln all the way to Grimsby. Or from the M1, take M18 north past Doncaster to M180 and follow it east. This passes Scunthorpe and the Humber Bridge turn-off, becomes the A180, and approaches Grimsby past the oil refineries of Immingham. From the north, join the M62 and go east to M18, take this south to the M180, then follow this east as above. The last services along the route are at the M18/180 junction, "Doncaster North", there's nothing for 40 miles (65 km) before central Grimsby.
By bus edit
The chief bus operator in this area is Stagecoach. Most buses run Monday to Saturday daytimes only. The “Humber Flyer” (number 250) runs hourly from Cleethorpes & Grimsby to Humberside airport, Barton Humber Bridge, and Hull Interchange. Bus 53 runs seven times a day from Grimsby to Lincoln, sometimes with a change at Market Rasen. Bus 51 runs hourly to Louth.
National Express service NX448 runs daily from Hull via Grimsby & Cleethorpes to London Victoria, via Sleaford, Peterborough and Stevenage. Service NX339 runs daily to Cornwall via Newark, Leicester, Birmingham, Bristol and Taunton.
The central bus stops (you couldn't call it a station) are next to Freshney Place Shopping Centre.
By train edit
Trains run hourly from Manchester Airport via Manchester Piccadilly, Sheffield and Doncaster - change here for London Kings Cross, Leeds and the north. From Hull, take the connecting bus across the Humber Bridge to Barton-on-Humber, from where a single-car train rattles through the fields to Grimsby.
The main railway station is 1 Grimsby Town. All eastbound trains continue to Cleethorpes where the railway ends. In between are two small stations, Grimsby Harbour and New Clee. But the Manchester express doesn't stop there, just the slow train from Barton-on-Humber, so you're unlikely to use them.
By plane edit
- 2 Humberside Airport (HUY IATA) (12 mi (19 km) west of Grimsby). Access via the Humber Flyer bus. But nowadays it has very few scheduled flights: three per weekday to Aberdeen and Amsterdam, and occasional holiday charters, and that’s it.
Consider flying via Manchester MAN (especially given the good rail service), Leeds-Bradford LBA, East Midlands EMA, or the London airports.
If your budget stretches to it, the flat lands of Lincolnshire are dotted with small airfields, and HUY is quiet enough to welcome private light aircraft and helicopters.
Get around edit
Stagecoach buses run between Grimsby and Cleethorpes every ten mins or so (Bus 3 or 9), taking 20 mins. Otherwise walk, or cycle to outlying attractions such as Waltham Windmill or Louth.
- 1 Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre, Alexandra Dock, Grimsby DN31 1UZ, ☏ , email@example.com. Explore the history of fishing in this area, and visit an old diesel side-trawler.
- 2 The Dock Tower. This impressive local landmark and symbol of the town (as seen on the Young's adverts) can be seen from miles around. An Italianate brick campanile, it was built in 1852 as a water tower to work the dock gates: water was pumped up to the header tank then turned the lock machinery by hydraulic pressure. Only open for the public to climb the tower on occasional special days, see “Events”.
- 3 The Town Hall, Victoria Street. An impressive Victorian building, tours are available and the Time Trap Museum is also housed here. Ring 01472 324109 for details.
- 4 Corporation Bridge. A bascule or lifting bridge built in 1925. It spans the entrance to Alexandra Docks, the old fish docks. These are nowadays inactive so the bridge is almost open to traffic. Nevertheless the mechanism is maintained and the bridge lifted for special purposes or for a test, most recently in May 2016.
- 5 Grimsby Minster, St James Square DN31 1EP. Church of England minster and parish church dedicated to St James. The central tower is medieval, but most of the church structure and interior are Victorian.
- 6 Waltham Windmill, Brigsley Rd, Waltham DN37 0JZ (5 mi (8.0 km) south of Grimsby). Easter to end Sept Sa Su, daily in school holidays, 10AM-4PM. A six-sailed, brick windmill, with a mechanism still in working order and able to produce flour. There’s also a museum of rural life in Lincolnshire. Adult £2, child 75p.
- Events: see www.visitgrimsby.co.uk for and www.visitlincolnshire.com for forthcoming events.
- Football: Grimsby Town ("The Mariners") were promoted in 2022 so they play soccer in League 2, the game's fourth tier. Their home stadium is 1 Blundell Park (capacity 9000) in Cleethorpes DN35 7PZ, a 20-min walk from that station and 30 from Grimsby's (or 10 min from New Clee). Don't try to park around here, the Victorian stadium is hemmed in by narrow terraces.
- 2 Grimsby Auditorium, Cromwell Rd (DN31 2BH) (near Grimsby Leisure Centre). built in 1995, stages music and theatre. The theatre seating is adaptable so capacity can extend to 2000 audience.
- 3 Caxton Theatre, Cleethorpe Road (A180) (in East Marsh near the docks). The Caxton Theatre provides entertainment by adults and youths in theatre. A notable theatre company in the area is the Class Act Theatre Company run by local playwright David Wrightam. The company produces strong factual drama and premiere award-winning productions.
- 4 The Leisure Centre, Cromwell Road DN31 2BH. Has a swimming pool, ice rink and gym and fitness facilities.
- Walk or cycle the Humber coastline either north or south of the port, for views across the Humber estuary to Spurn Head. It's mostly a firm broad track along the shore wall, though there are tracts of coastal industry (especially at Immingham) that you need to swing inland to get around. Use OS Landranger Map 113.
- Fenland scenery of Lincolnshire stretches inland, with windswept fields and big skies. Away from the shore industries, the coast is empty of people and rich in birdlife, and the beaches improve as you move south away from the Humber mud.
- Go-karting for both kids and adults at 5 Chequered Flag, Cheapside, Holton-le-Clay DN37 0JE, 6 miles (10 km) south of Grimsby off the A16. For bookings email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 1472 823823.
As a fishing port, Grimsby is famous for its fish and chips. Traditional smoked haddock is a must. The best-regarded fish restaurant is Steels in Cleethorpes market place, see that page. There are lots of small eateries: Indian, Italian, and so on. For something different, eat Greek at 1 Othello's at 25 Bethlehem Street DN31 1JN.
And see entry above for the New Inn Great Limber.
Stay safe edit
There’s a run-down, rough edge to Grimsby. You should be safe enough daytime but at night the main area to avoid is around the docks, Riby Square and Freeman Street. For a quiet drink with your friends, maybe head for Cleethorpes.
Grimsby and its approach roads have 4G from all UK carriers. As of Nov 2022, town centre has 5G from EE and Three.
Go next edit
- Cleethorpes 2 mi (3.2 km) along the coast has seaside and related attractions.
- Hull is the big busy port across the estuary, with a maritime heritage.
- Lincoln has a charming preserved medieval centre.
- Louth, 15 miles (25 km) south, is an attractive market town much used for 1950s TV locations.
|Routes through Grimsby
|→ Louth → Peterborough
|Lincoln ← Market Rasen ←