Life in a ‘Crap Town’

Great Grimsby, guardian, north, politics, government

I don’t think that the epithet Crap Town carries the weight of a UNESCO designation just yet, but it certainly doesn’t connote the rose-scented whiff of a World Heritage Site, more the aroma of rotting fish.

Grimsby features regularly on the annual Crap Towns list, presumably these lists are complied by those who live down leafy lanes and don’t have the misfortune to actually set foot in the places that they denigrate.

And they do say that non-natives are the people best placed to see an area or place with fresh eyes and new ideas, but even so I was a bit miffed when I read a feature in The Guardian about the town I live in.

Do I really live in such an awful place? One that should be expunged of its residents and left to be slowly reclaimed by nature as a couple of thoughtful commenters helpfully suggested. I read the description about fly-tipped streets awash with drug addicts and prostitutes and found myself feeling a gnawing sense of despair, those poor residents, how are they still living in such a place I thought?
Then I oiked myself out of my consuming despondency and remembered that I do rather happily live in such a place and that there are lots of really good things about it, blighted it may be by its problems, and problem areas, as are many places in modern, forgotten Britain.
So, here’s what’s already great about Grimsby, in no particular order and not exhaustive:
The Barge pub. It sits on the riverbed in town at a jaunty angle, so you can feel slightly drunk even before quaffing one of their imaginatively named cocktails. The food is excellent too, served on plates the size of satellite dishes.
Spectacle Row. A terrace of Victorian houses on Abbey Road, each with round dormer windows in the attics. Sedate grandeur.
We don’t have a housing crisis. You can get a reasonable sized three-bed semi with gardens for less than 150K.
People’s Park. Great open space for families complete with ducks, pond, café and bandstand.
The Flower cottages. A beautiful set of cottages named after spring flowers in order of when they first bloom.
The 200-year-old-oak tree at the end of my road. A grand old man and stately survivor.
The town has two private schools, St James’ and St Martin’s, both of which are housed in lovely old Victorian buildings. St James was founded by an ancestor of actor John Hurt.
Russells chippy on Nunsthorpe. Fab fish and chips in a town renowned for its fish and chips.
Birketts butchers and Pocklingtons bakery. Very tasty Lincolnshire haslet and my son is a big fan of the latter’s gingerbread men.
Walmsgate. Along this street are three examples of social housing history. A row of Haig homes built in the 1950 to house ex-servicemen. Pre-fabs – put up as a temporary housing solution and still going strong. Walmsgate Gardens – a reminder of how Nunsthorpe was conceived as part of Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City movement.
Humberston Fitties. Technically Cleethorpes, but this unique collection of 300 mostly wooden chalets hidden behind the dunes is a world within a world.
I’m not quite sure that the town is fit for the scrapheap just yet despite the best efforts of local and national government policy. Please remember that there are people and communities behind the headlines.

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