Background Information

Raising Awareness

The Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust (Great GIFT) was formed in July 2010, following public meetings organised by the Grimsby, Cleethorpes and District Civic Society, by a diverse group of local people who are united by the desire to save the Ice Factory and find a sustainable new use for the building.

The Trust immediately began a campaign to raise awareness, and started work on the Vision which would carry them forward. They soon attracted the interest of the Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT), who saw the potential in Ice Factory as a catalyst for regeneration in the East Marsh area.

Community Planning Day

PRT made an number of visits to Grimsby, and in July 2011 facilitated a Community Planning Day which brought together a cross-section of Grimsby people to discuss future uses for the building.

It was the first time that all key stakeholders on the building (the owner, the local authority, English Heritage, Great GIFT, local businesses and representatives of the local community) had come together to discuss seriously how they could find a future for the building.


The Planning Day concluded that there was a desire to save the building and that it may be possible to develop a feasible project. The Planning Day highlighted that the complexities of the site and the challenges of the building, and Grimsby at large, mean that a collaborative approach between GGIFT, PRT, NELincs and ABP would be essential to realise such an ambitious project. PRT adopted the Ice Factory as one of its community projects and has committed to supporting it at no cost to GGIFT for as long as it takes to secure the funding and consents to deliver the regeneration project.

Planning Workshop

In February 2012 the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community organised a Planning Workshop in Grimsby, as part of the Department of Communities and Local Government’s “Supporting Communities and Neighbourhoods in Planning Scheme.” The workshop looked at connectivity between the docks and the town, and the potential for improvements in the wider East Marsh area.

Other Supporters

A number of other national organisations have lent their support to GGIFT, including:

  • The Architectural Heritage Fund
  • English Heritage
  • The Victorian Society
  • SAVEBritain’s Heritage
  • The Council for British Archaeology

The Trust is also supported by:

  • The Enrolled Freemen of Grimsby
  • Freshney Place Shopping Centre
  • Grimsby Institute
  • The East Marsh Community Trust
  • Lincolnshire Heritage
  • The Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology
  • The Institute of Refrigeration
  • Civic Voice

The Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust is a building preservation trust whose objects are “to preserve for the benefit of the public, the historical, architectural and constructional heritage that may exist in and around Grimsby, Cleethorpes or North East Lincolnshire of particular beauty or historical, architectural or constructional interest in particular the Grimsby Ice Factory and to advance education of the public in the history and heritage of the Ice Factory.”

In April, 2012 GGIFT became a registered charity (number 1146988). GGIFT is governed by a board of six trustees, who meet quarterly, and on an as needed basis.

The members of the GGIFT are:

  • Vicky Hartung, Chair
  • Graeme Bassett, Secretary
  • Lee Beckett, Treasurer
  • Roy Horobin, Trustee
  • Susan Pitcher, Trustee
  • David Pitcher, Trustee

The Options Appraisal


The Ice Factory has been owned by Associated British Ports (ABP) since its closure in 1990. North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) has been working alongside ABP to investigate the potential for the development of the Ice Factory buildings, but all efforts to find a new use for the building have so far not been successful. This Options Appraisal is the first time that a thorough investigation of a community-led solution for the building exploring all potential uses for the building has been carried out.

Technical Work & Reports

To date, the following technical work has been carried out:

  • A detailed measured survey of the buildings
    by Hodson Architects (2009)
  • Appraisal of the Existing Structure
    by Alan Baxter & Associates (February 2010)
  • Conservation Statement Grimsby Docks, Ice Factory
    by Purcell Miller Tritton (December 2010)

These reports concluded that the structure is sound and that a new use should be found for the building. Following the two Planning Days in 2011 and 2012, Great GIFT launched a fundraising effort. Thanks to the generosity of members and corporate supporters, Great GIFT was able to meet the targets set by charitable funders such as the Architectural Heritage Fund.

Scope of Options Appraisal

In April 2012 GGIFT invited tenders from a number of architects and market researchers to conduct an options appraisal on the building, the aims of which are:

  • To consider a wide range of options for a sustainable mix of uses, which will work alongside the heritage elements of the building (the ice-making machinery), be of benefit to both local residents and visitors to Grimsby, and serve as a focus for regeneration efforts in the neighbouring areas
  • To estimate potential building costs and assess the financial viability of the most favourable options
  • To research available funding for the project

The Team Involved

Vicky Hartung: Chair – Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust

Vicky has been the main contact person for the Trust throughout the Options Appraisal process. With help and support from the other GGIFT trustees, she prepared the briefs, and attended numerous meetings with the architects and market researchers, planning professionals, English Heritage, NELC and others. She has been responsible for pulling together all the information generated by the Appraisal into a final comprehensive report.

Christopher CottonPartner – Purcell Architects, York

Purcell is a specialist architectural practice working predominantly on bespokearchitectural and conservation projects for end user clients, specialising in the creative reuse and careful repair of important historic listed buildings. They have over 180 staff in eleven offices. Christopher has produced design drawings, carried out a condition assessment of the building, and provided estimated costings of repair and renovation.

Mairi Bell and Maria Perks: Bell Business Development, Glasgow

Mairi has extensive experience of business analysis and Maria has extensive experience of the sustainable re-use of historic buildings and the preparation of Options Appraisals. Bell Business Development has prepared an outline business plan for the options, and commented on the wider social and regenerative impact of the project.

Andrew Clark: Clark Weightman, Hessle

Andrew is partner in a commercial property consultancy whose operations range over an area including Hull, Lincoln, Grimsby, Immingham, Scunthorpe, Doncaster, Brigg, Louth, Beverley, Cleethorpes and Bridlington. He has given his expert advice on the value of the building both as it is now and when the project is complete, including estimates of potential commercial rents achievable.

team involved cont….

Fred TaggartPast Project Director – The Prince’s Regeneration Trust

Fred advocated for the the Grimsby Ice Factory project from the very start, attendingnumerous meetings in Grimsby, and drawing GGIFT trustees into the wider network of heritage practitioners. Fred was responsible for organising the Community Planning Day which took place in July 2011, and for involving The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, who came to Grimsby to lead a Community Planning Workshop in February 2012.

Edward Holland: Senior Projects Adviser – The Prince’s Regeneration Trust

Edward has attended many meetings, in Grimsby, York and London, with architects, planners, market researchers, councillors and local authority representatives.

Rosie FraserOperations Director – The Prince’s Regeneration Trust

Rosie has brought her expertise to bear on various aspects of this project, attending meetings with potential partners, councillors, and local authority representatives.

Paul Gardner: Assistant Projects Adviser – The Prince’s Regeneration Trust

Paul’s role has been to support GGIFT throughout the options appraisal process, attending numerous meeting in Grimsby, York and London and offering advice based on his own expertise combined with PRT’s 15 year’s experience in the field of heritage-led regeneration.

Liz BatesLincolnshire Heritage Trust

Supported by a grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund, Liz gave early advice on preparing the briefs and selecting the professional team to undertake this options appraisal.

Funding for the Options Appraisal

GGIFT is very grateful to the Architectural Heritage Fund, The Pilgrim Trust, North East Lincolnshire Council, The Council for British Archaeology, SAVE Britain’s Heritage, and the many businesses and individuals who contributed to the cost of this study.

The breakdown of funding for the Option Appraisal is as follows:

  • North East Lincolnshire Council – £2,000
  • Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) – £7,500
  • Council for British Archaeology – £750
  • Pilgrim Trust – £4,950
  • SAVE Britain’s Heritage – £120
  • National fundraising (GGIFT) – £3,280


In addition to the professional team, GGIFT would like to thank the following people for their advice and support:

  • David Ross  President Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust
  • Donald Hyslop – Head of Regeneration, Tate
  • Chris Shaw – Leader, North East Lincolnshire Council
  • Mick Burnett – Deputy Leader, North East Lincolnshire Council
  • Ros Kerslake – Chief Executive, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust
  • James Hulme – The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community
  • Mark Cawood – then Head of Strategic Planning & Transportation, NELC
  • Elizabeth Mayle and Martin Dixon – North East Lincolnshire Council/Balfour Beatty
  • Craig Broadwith – English Heritage
  • Gavin Richards – The Architectural Heritage Fund
  • Christopher Lester and the Society of Lincolnshire History and Archaeology
  • Richard Kendall – Humber Local Enterprise Partnership

Executive Summary

Conclusion and Recommendations

In undertaking this Options Appraisal, the Trust was committed to looking at every possible use for the building, and considering any sustainable solution. Each individual idea had to be assessed not only on its economic viability, but also on its potential for negatively impacting the fabric and contents of the building.

In all, six distinct options were investigated:

  • continuing with the present regime
  • mothballing/conserving the factory as a redundant disused building
  • using it for port-related business
  • mixed residential and hotel use
  • mixed retail and commercial use
  • mixed cultural, leisure, commercial and retail use

Any other suggestions and combinations which arose during the process were also discussed.

The team looked carefully at all the possibilities over a period of six months, gradually eliminating the unworkable and introducing new ideas. The process revealed that, notwithstanding the physical constraints imposed by the ice-making machinery, the building offers a number of interesting and flexible spaces suitable for a variety of uses. It also identified certain gaps and opportunities in local markets, and these findings were strengthened by expressions of interest from local and national operators. The aim was to arrive at a vital and cohesive mix of uses which would secure the future of the project.

A detailed analysis of the options can be found below, but in summary GGIFT’s current Vision for the Grimsby Ice Factory – subject to further development – achieves the following:

  • the preservation of the the building and the machinery contained within it, in the heart of the historic dock area, for future generations to understand it both as an important link in the international history of refrigeration and food preservation, and also for its crucial role in the story of the fishing industry in Grimsby.
  • the establishment of a first class art gallery of international standard, to benefit the community by increasing the cultural and educational offer, and serve as the focus for a destination which will boost tourism in North East Lincolnshire and the wider Region.
  • the provision of commercial, conference, training and meeting spaces which will support, and benefit from, the burgeoning Renewables industry in the Humber region.
  • the provision of additional events, leisure, cultural and dining opportunities, to answer demonstrated needs within the region, and add diversity to the economic and social fabric of the town, while creating a balanced mix within the project itself.

These uses will support and complement each other and bring jobs, learning opportunities, work placement /apprenticeship opportunities, and provide a focus for the regeneration of the Grimsby Docks, Freeman Street and the East Marsh.

The capital costs for the total final project are estimated to be around £12 million, which will be raised from public, private and charitable sources. The combination of public and commercial uses are projected to be self-supporting as of year one. The next phase will be project development, for which GGIFT will apply to the HLF for Phase 1 funding.

The Importance of the Building

The Grimsby Ice Factory is a unique survivor of the Victorian industrial era. Closed in 1990, it is thought that this is the earliest and largest known surviving ice factory in the world, and the sole survivor from this period to retain its machinery.

The factory has been identified as a building at risk on the English Heritage “Heritage at Risk” register since 1992 where its condition is now described as ‘very bad’ and it is priority assessed as A – the highest priority for action. Since it became redundant, the condition of the building fabric and machinery has significantly deteriorated. The site has also suffered from theft and vandalism despite the security measures in place, and has been particularly badly affected by pigeon ingress.

It is possible, touring the building, to trace the entire ice-making process as carried out in the early 20th century.

“The J. & E. Hall refrigeration compressors still in place at the Grimsby Ice Factory are a reminder of the early years of refrigeration. They are the oldest of their type still in existence and amongst the largest ever made. As a record of the history of the modern world, the ice-making equipment within the Grimsby Ice Factory is an essential and irreplaceable artefact.” Neil Everitt, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration News.

The Planning Context

Throughout the Options Appraisal process, we have worked closely with members of the planning team at North East Lincolnshire Council/Balfour Beatty: Martin Dixon, the Senior Development Management Officer and Elizabeth Mayle, Design and Conservation Officer.

Condition and Principal Repairs Required

In 2009 NELC commissioned an appraisal of the existing structure from Alan Baxter & Associates, which was completed in February 2010. This report contains a comprehensive account of the condition of the building, and identifies three levels ofworks:

  • (C) to bring the building to a usable standard
  • (B) a reduced version of (C)
  • (A) temporary protection with some urgent structural repairs

Purcell Architects have provided an excellent summary of the condition of Grimsby Ice Factory, external, internal fabric and structure, based on the ABA report, RGA report and subsequent visits and the conservation statement. Their conclusion is that the structure and fabric are now in a cycle of increasing rapid decay due to the historic lack of maintenance and failure of major elements of the building fabric, such as the roof coverings, allowing rainwater to penetrate the interior causing irreversible damage. The report by Rex Proctor & Partners, Quantity Surveyors divides costings under three headings:

  • External Repairs
  • Internal Repairs
  • Fit-out, and External Works and Services

The most urgent repair required is to prevent any more water entering the building. Scaffolding and temporary roofing for both buildings have been estimated at a cost of up to £300,000 plus fees and contingencies.

Market Analysis

Summary of Bell Business Development Analysis:

A mix of uses that includes an art gallery and heritage attraction as leading visitor draws, has associated studio and arts to attract a critical mass of creative users to become an arts hub and has commercial offers of eating, functions, cinema and climbing wall will provide the best fit with the building, market demand and sustainable use. This mix of uses can make a significant contribution to the economy directly through employment creation and generated revenue and multiplier effects which can benefit the physical, social and cultural regeneration of the area.

There is real mutual benefit and complementarity of the proposed uses which together with the historic interest of the building can make the Ice Factory a place that attracts visitors to North East Lincolnshire and will provide offers which local residents will make use of on a regular basis.

The arts and heritage attraction provide a huge opportunity to engage and involve the local community and visitors alike in learning about the heritage of the Ice Factory.

Audience Analysis

Potential visitor numbers have been thoroughly researched by Bell Business Development. A starting point was the local population, and existing local visitor numbers. North East Lincolnshire has a population of 157,000 and currently attracts 275,000 UK visitors and 28,000 overseas visitors per year. Wider Lincolnshire, however, attracts a much larger market, around 2.63 million visits annually, and provides an opportunity for the Ice Factory to attract day visits from visitors to the wider area, including Hull to the North, Yorkshire to the West and Skegness and Sheffield to the South, all within ninety minutes travel time.

It is also possible to draw comparisons between the proposed Ice Factory project, and similar projects around the country. BBD have provided two case studies of projects where close parallels can be drawn. Richmond Station in Yorkshire, for example, is occupied by a similar mix of uses, although on a smaller scale, and receives over 300,000 visits per year. Dundee Centre for Contemporary Arts, which focuses more on the cultural offer, with a first-class art gallery, cinema and print workshops, is located in a town with a similar population and level of deprivation to Grimsby. It too receives 300,000 visits per year.

BBD’s initial visitor estimates for the Ice Factory are:

  • Heritage Attraction 30,000
  • Art Gallery at least 40,000, soon rising to 80,000
  • Climbing Wall 14,600

The cafe, micro-brewery and small retail units will all benefit from the footfall occasioned by these core uses, and vice versa; the cinema, workshops and offices will add yet another type of visitor to the mix and we would expect visitor numbers to increase steadily.

The Preferred Scheme

The preferred option is a mix of uses which support and complement each other, while making best use of the existing spaces within the building. The following sections describe each separate component in turn:

The Derived Benefits
  1. The Heritage Attraction
    The dramatic Compressor House in the 1900 building will be the centre of the Heritage Interpretation, with the gigantic compressors and other machinery restored. From there, visitors will be taken on guided tours of the rest of the building in order to understand the ice-making process from beginning to end.
  2. Education and Multi-Use Community Rooms
    Connected to the Compressor House, in the 1950’s addition, these rooms will accommodate a variety of uses, from school parties visiting the art gallery or learning about life on the docks, to community workshops or social groups.
  3. The Function Room/Conference Space
    The Events space will occupy an upper level tank room in the 1900 building, benefitting from the pitched roof, skylights, and row of arched windows along the outer wall. Together with the two meeting rooms (located above the Salt Water Tank Room, and in Tank Room 7/Old Ice Store, next to the first floor kitchen and servery) this amounts to 620 square metres of public space for hire with access to full catering facilities. The machinery in the main tank room will remain intact, and visitors will be able to read the entire space as part of the ice-making process. A significant addition to the structure is a glassed balcony accessible from both the Events space and the Art Gallery, which overlooks the Compressor House and gives access to the Education and Community Rooms in the 1950’s addition, and stairs to the roof, which has a view of the water.
  4. The Art Gallery
    This occupies two of the four remaining tank rooms in the 1900 building, one on the upper floor with the dramatic pitched roof and skylights, one on the lower floor which will be lit by artificial light. There will be almost 950 square metres of exhibition space (equivalent to the Turner Contemporary in Margate.) All the existing machinery will remain intact, and be “readable” by visitors as part of the ice-making process. Visitors will go from the upper to the lower gallery via a spiral staircase in the conveyor area.
  5. The Retail Units Located in the old Ice Store, it will still be possible to see the refrigeration machinery lining the walls and ceiling. On current plans there are four units of approximately 58 square metres. One or two of the units would provide space for a book/gift shop associated with the Art Gallery. The remaining spaces would be let to independent retailers such as craft or artisinal food outlets which would be chosen to fit with the ethos of the building.
  6. The Cafe
    The main cafe is located in the Condenser Room on the ground floor of the 1900 building, with the kitchen and servery in the Salt Water Tank Room next door. Access is from Parker Street, which divides the two buildings, and which provides an opportunity for tables to spill out under the atrium in warm weather.
  7. The Climbing Wall
    Occupies the boiler house in the 1900 building, and retains the high ceilings and sense of space. In addition to the purpose-built walls, there are changing rooms, a store, a sauna, WC’s and a small cafe area. No machinery existed in this space so there would be no need to compromise the heritage.
  8. The Print Studio
    This will occupy space in one of the lower tank rooms in the 1900 building. Of the four tank rooms complete with machinery, this one will be need to be subdivided to a greater degree, so that it will not be possible to “read” the space as it was originally used. However, the construction lends itself to supporting heavy printing presses and other equipment. The row of arched windows facing Riby Square will bring natural light and architectural interest to the interior spaces.
  9. The Commercial Workshops/Office Spaces
    These too will be situated in the lower tank room (see above.) Based on further investigation of demand, the spaces can be built to different sizes.
  10. The Cinema
    Space has been created for a two screen, 150 seat per screen, cinema in the empty 1910 building. The box office, foyer, store and WC’s will be on the ground floor, with the theatres above. No machinery remains in the 1910 building, so there is no compromise to the heritage.
  11. The Micro-brewery and Restaurant
    Located on the ground floor of the vacant 1910 building, with soaring ceilings, the microbrewery, bar and bistro-style restaurant – together with the cinema – will form an attractive day or evening venue. No machinery remains in the 1910 building, so there is no compromise to the heritage.

Total estimated employment figures: 54 full time, 74 part time.

In summary the benefits are:

  • Conservation
    The building and machinery will be preserved and made understandable.
  • Public Access
    The public will have access to the building every day of the year.
  • Economic Benefit
    The project will bring jobs to the area, and attract tourists.
  • Culture
    The art gallery will fill a gap in provision while the cinema will provide a cultural focus.
  • Community
    The project offers employment, leisure activities, and easily accessible educational experiences for local schools.
  • Education
    The history of the fishing industry and the refrigeration industry will be brought to life, while the art gallery will provide another educational experience.
  • Regeneration
    The new businesses and attractions have the potential to act as a catalyst for regeneration in the deprived East Marsh.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Extensive research, consultation and evaluation have identified a preferred mix of uses for the Ice Factory. GGIFT is confident that the proposed uses respect and enhance the special character of the building and contribute to the economic vitality of Grimsby by providing new facilities, jobs and opportunities for local people. Indeed it has the potential to be a major example of heritage regeneration for the region.

This report shows that the market research advice obtained indicates a level of demand that will enable these uses to raise sufficient income even in the first year to break even. The expectation is that this will grow and that in subsequent years revenue will grow allowing GGIFT to build up a sinking fund for future repairs and maintenance.

The total construction cost of the project is estimated to be around £12 m. This includes major repairs to the listed building and the necessary works to be able to let specific areas to the preferred operators. The aim is for the capital work to be 100% grant-funded so that the project does not have to make burdensome loan repayments when it is operating.

It is the recommendation of this report that Great GIFT seeks approval from North East Lincolnshire Council and other key stakeholders to proceed with the delivery of this project.

Implementation Strategy

The surveys, market research, consultations and design development work undertaken in preparation of this Options Appraisal have advanced this project from an outline vision to a detailed and costed proposal, which can be recommended to the key stakeholders for delivery. In order to take this project to the next stage, further development work will need to be undertaken, in the short term including: community consultation, discussions with funders and partners, preparation of a detailed project programme, the production of briefs as well as marketing and promotion.

Thanks to our corporate sponsors:

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