An historic ice factory and its 80-year-old refrigeration equipment have become the subject of a preservation battle.
English Heritage is fighting to save the former Grimsby Ice Company building in Grimsby Docks amidst demands to redevelop the site.
The building is currently derelict, but it used to be the largest ice factory in the world, supplying ice to the fishing industry for 90 years.
Roof mounted condensers during the factories production days. Pic: NE Lincolnshire Council Library Service
The building is grade ll listed and is on the English Heritage’s At Risk register. The English Heritage is keen to save the building but, more importantly, it is keen to preserve what it recognises as the last surviving example of early 20th century refrigeration equipment. This includes five massive four-cylinder compressors, currently decaying in the factories plant room.
The compressor plant room in its heyday showing three of the four J&E Hall compressors and their electric motors. Pic: NE Lincolnshire Council Library Service
The Grimsby Ice company originally imported ice from Norway from 1863, but this unreliable. This led to the opening of the factory in 1901.
It was capable of producing 1250 tons of ice per day and helped establish Grimsby as the largest fishing port in the world by the 1950s.
Faced with this increasing demand, the Grimsby Ice Company took the decision to scrap the steam plant and replace the original compressors with the latest electrically-driven technology.
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.
But while the preservationists and developers haggle, the site continues to deteriorate. Subjected to a large amount of vandalism, much of the brass in the plant has been removed and the copper stripped from the compressor motors.
Bruce Badger, president of the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) said: “The Grimsby Ice Company Factory should be preserved because it provides vivid evidence of the progress of our industry.”