A BRIEF HISTORY OF GGIFT
GGIFT was founded in July 2010 in response to a series of public meetings, arranged by the Grimsby, Cleethorpes & District Civic Society, to draw attention to the plight of the Grimsby Ice Factory and historic dock peninsula, known locally as the Kasbah.
The Ice Factory is a Grade II* listed building, having been spot listed when it ceased production in July 1990, and was about to be demolished. For the ensuing 20 years the owners, Associated British Ports (ABP) were unable find a use for the building. Bearing in mind that the Factory – the “largest ice factory in the world” – has a footprint of 1.1 acres, interior space equivalent to a superstore, and still retains all its ice-making machinery, this was not an easy building to repurpose. In the meantime, as the building deteriorated, it became in the minds of many, an eyesore.
In 2010 ABP and the local authority, North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC), had jointly commissioned two studies – an Appraisal of the Existing Structure and a Conservation Statement. These studies were expected to underpin an application to (then) English Heritage to have the building de-listed, so that it could at last be got rid of.
The public meetings revealed that local people were evenly split on the question of whether or not the building should be demolished. The founding members of the Trust were moved firstly to protect the local heritage, and secondly to kick start culture-led regeneration in Grimsby.
When the two reports were eventually made public, we learned that the building was actually quite stable, and that its significance was high, and ABP told us that if we could find a use for the building, they would allow us to have it. Between July and December 2010 we held meetings, explored ideas, and formed a steering committee to take these forward.
Late in 2010 it was our great good fortune to come into contact with the Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT), who visited Grimsby for the first time in January 2011. This was the start of a long and supportive relationship that ended only when PRT was absorbed into the Prince’s Foundation in 2018.
National and international organisations that have funded, mentored, and engaged with GGIFT also include:
National Lottery Heritage Fund
The Pilgrim Trust
The LG Harris Trust
The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment
All these organisations have supported our efforts not just to find a new use for the Ice Factory, but to change local perceptions of our maritime built heritage from “eyesore” to “asset”.
Other groups who have expressed their support include:
The Enrolled Freemen of Grimsby
Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology
the Institute of Refrigeration
East Marsh Community Trust
Gradually Then Suddenly
After seven years of networking and advocacy, including an unsuccessful bid to the (then) Heritage Lottery Fund for a mixed-use solution for the Ice Factory, our efforts were rewarded.
In August 2017, PRT invited us to bid for a £2 million pot of funding which was being made available in celebration of Prince Charles’s 70th birthday. GGIFT, ABP, and NELC came together for the first time to discuss potential projects, and fixed upon Peterson’s Smokehouse on Henderson Street, with three additional buildings on Wharncliffe Road. ABP agreed to grant a 99 year lease to GGIFT, on the condition that any profits from the commercial letting of the buildings would be ploughed back into further regeneration projects within the Kasbah. A partnership was born, with a template for future projects.
GGIFT is a member of the Kasbah Steering Group.
GGIFT is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.
Vicky Hartung (Chair)
Vicky Hartung was born in Cleethorpes and spent her early years on Freeman Street in Grimsby’s East Marsh where her mother had a dress shop. She attended Grimsby Art School in the late 1960’s, before leaving town to study piano at the Royal College of Music in London. An early rescue project was Elgar’s holiday retreat, Brinkwells, in West Sussex. A preindustrial cottage set in ancient woodlands, Brinkwells has no parallels with the Grimsby Ice Factory, other than that successfully bringing it back into use depended upon combining respect for the building with a strong determination that difficulties will be overcome. Vicky moved to the USA in the early 80’s, where she continued teaching and performing, and became licensed to practise real estate in Washington D.C. and Virginia. During this period she acted as chair of the Arlington Public Schools Arts Committee, was cofounder of “Spotlight on Arlington Schools”, a parent newsletter, and was influential in developing a county-wide solution to inequalities between middle schools. Vicky returned to Grimsby in 2006, and in 2007 opened a contemporary fine art gallery on Brighowgate, Gate Gallery. The Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust was formed in 2010, and much of Vicky’s time has been devoted to the project since.
Graeme Bassett (Secretary)
Graeme is a civil servant, from Cleethorpes. He has a business degree, and was a founder member of the Grimsby, Cleethorpes and District Civic Society. He and Vicky were the first trustees of GGIFT, and Graeme has devoted a lot of energy to gathering and disseminating information on the technical and scientific history of the Ice Factory, working with historians and refrigeration professionals.
Susan Pitcher (Trustee)
Susan Pitcher is a professional artist working under her maiden name of Sue Stone. She is current chair and exhibiting member of the internationally renowned 62 Group of Textile Artists and an elected Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen. She was born in Great Grimsby, Lincolnshire in 1952. After attending Grimsby School of Art, Sue moved to London to study Fashion Design at St Martins School of Art and then Embroidery at Goldsmiths College, University of London. On graduating with a First Class Honours degree in 1975 Sue returned to her hometown and went into business with her husband, David Pitcher. They designed, manufactured and retailed clothing in Grimsby from 1975 until 2003 when Sue became a professional artist. Her textile and mixed media work, much of which reflects her local heritage, has been exhibited widely throughout the UK, Europe and more recently in Japan and the USA. Sue also delivers talks and workshops for adults throughout the UK. Sue’s family has close connections with the Grimsby Fishing industry. Her Dad went to work on the docks aged 14 and eventually became a fish merchant in the 1950s and 1960s. Sue, herself, spent many hours of her childhood going ‘down dock’ with her Dad every weekend. Her great Grandfather, Harry Conder was skipper of the trawler Fittonia, one of the lost trawlers of WW1. Sue has been involved with GGIFT since it’s inception in 2010. She is eager to save the Grade II* Grimsby Ice Factory building, not only to preserve a symbolic record of when Grimsby was indeed great, but also to give a new focus to the historic dock area and create an optimism for its future development and the new industries formed therein.
David Pitcher (Trustee)
David Pitcher is a freelance graphic and web designer and also an educator. He has always embraced modern technology and its usefulness as a design tool and was an early adopter of the Apple MacIntosh computer in the 1980s. He was born in Cleethorpes in 1950 and went to Wintringham Boys Grammar School before attending Grimsby School of Art. He moved to London in 1969 to study Graphic Design and Illustration at St Martins School of Art, (now part of Central St Martins, University of the Arts, London) graduating in 1972. After graduating he worked as a Freelance Designer in London and then taught Art in Woolwich becoming the youngest Head of Department in the Inner London Education Authority. He returned to Grimsby to start a business retailing fashion on a market stall. Over the next 27 years he grew that business to create the brand, Pitchers Anywear which encompassed the design, manufacture and retail of womenswear. On retiring from business in 2003 David once more became a teacher working in the Secondary School sector throughout Lincolnshire. For several years David was Head of Art at Skegness Grammar School. David has been a trustee of the Great Grimsby Ice Factory trust since 2010.
Roy Horobin (Trustee)
Roy studied Modern History at Queen’s University Belfast and completed his teacher training at Hull University. He started teaching History to 11-18 years olds at Matthew Humberstone School in Cleethorpes. Roy lives in Cleethorpes with his wife and teenage children. As a History teacher he has been involved in local history and community groups to bring his subject alive. It was therefore a natural progression for Roy to become interested in the Grimsby Ice Factory. He was attracted to the building because of its historical importance but also its beauty and remarkable location. For him the historic docks of Grimsby are an area dripping with exceptional potential. Roy’s key skills are innovative ideas, an enthusiasm for engagement with the local community, an understanding of campaigning and local politics. Within days of becoming a Trustee of the Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust it became really apparent that winning over support from the local council was crucially important. This has led to Roy becoming extensively involved with local and national politics. A key idea for Roy is that local politicians need to promote and work with local groups to make great things happen.
Christopher Lester (Trustee)
Chris Lester is a Chartered Engineer and retired from the microwave electronics industry. He has been active in the study and appreciation of Lincolnshire’s industrial heritage for over 40 years as a member of the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. He first recognised the significance of the Ice Factory in the late 1990s when the Society was planning a conference about the Grimsby fishing industry for 2001, and industrial archaeologists came from all over the East Midlands to learn about “Fish and Ships”. Access to the factory, one of the fishing fleet’s engines of its success, was denied owing to its neglected state. He is a past chairman of the Society, a trustee and past chairman of the Industrial Archaeology Team. Since the formation of Great GIFT Chris has tried to raise the profile of the Ice Factory and the Trust’s plans for it by means of an illustrated talk which he gives whenever the opportunity arises.
Emilie Wales (Trustee)
BA (Hons), Associate IHBC, has 5 years experience as a Conservation Officer and is currently completing an MSc in Building Conservation. Whilst working at NELC, she wrote the successful ‘Discover Cleethorpes’ Townscape Heritage bid (total project of £2.9m) and secured the Greater Grimsby Heritage Action Zone, including adoption of the Kasbah as a Conservation Area. Emilie served an Urgent Works Notice at Victoria Mills Silo, Grimsby and monitored the subsequent £2.1m of works in default.