Community Life & Leisure
The coming of the Railways certainly outlined the future of the West Marsh with creating a community that brought the beginning a community together that we can now be proud of.
In order to build on this community, it started firstly in 1872 with the first Corporation Bridge joining the East & West Marsh together. The following year the corporation began selling building plots on a 99-year lease and by 1883 they had an estate of 764 leasehold properties, Corporation Road followed by Elsenham road & eventually Gilby road.
In May 1877 led to a construction of Grimsby Hospital costing £4000 then three years later South Parade School board opened and the same year as the National School in Macaulay Street.
By 1881 the Wesleyan Chapple opened at South Parade while the Lord Street Mission opened around 1892. St Paul’s Church was the next to open in 1908 & St Hughes church was blessed by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1911.
The duke of York Garden’s was opened in 1894 and by 1912 we saw the new tramway operating from a terminus near Corporation Bridge to Immingham. We then saw the Prince of Wales opened the second new Bridge on corporation Road in 1928.
By the 1950’s there was large scale building carried out with many of the West Marsh homes being demolished. Other housing along with the Bull Ring disappeared to make way for town centre development. The first shops of what became the Riverhead Centre opened in 1969, to be recreated as Freshney Place 1990/1.
South Parade joined with Lord Street Chapel to become Haven Methodist, a new building opening on Lord street in 1970. Both south Parade & Flottergate chapels were pulled down and the old Grimsby Hospital was superseded in 1983 by the New Princess Dina of Wales Hospital
With the knowledge of knowing the short history of the Marsh what better way of understanding how life has changed over many years, starting with communities. The West Marsh is like three communities in one, starting with the first homes being built in Corporation Road, then followed by Little Russia Littlecoates then Over the water into the Lord street & top Town area. What was the norm was communities all helped each other & neighbours played an important role of keeping communities together weather it was helping with children, sharing food, passing down clothes looking after the elderly & delivering babies where always there to support our community.
Most of these areas where supported by community churches that tended to bring communities together. Residents from churches like St Pauls in Corporation Road to St James our Mother church to St Hughes, Church of The Good Shepherd to the many other churches from Methodist, Catholic, Wesleyan Chapple to the Salvation Army. All these churches worked closely to improve the lives of their communities. Of course, they provided organisations like The Church Lads Brigade from the Church of the Good Shepherd that brought many of their communities together through activities, like going to camps, marching bands. We saw strong communities was born out of this with many young families joining up. We saw children joining and learning instruments & encouraged to go to camps.
We also saw other churches having local choirs & groups like the Brownies, Church Lads Brigade, Guides Scouts & the Salvation Army bands bring much loved music to our streets, all playing a huge role within their communities.
Many schools also provided much needed education and some of the schools that served our area were, South Parade, Macaulay, Littlecoates & Armstrong Secondary School.
Then we look at our Industries in the Marsh that encouraged local sporting events and activities with companies playing football and competing against each other. We saw Cricket matches, Bowles tournaments, swimming events, and numerous activities within their own company sports clubs. Companies like Peter Dixon’s who had their own sports ground and had family days of activities. Not forgetting our own Grimsby Town who filled there stadium very week with thousands of supporters who came from all corners of the Town.
Other entertainment was to go to the local cinema with the Rex & Queen’s Cinema also the Palace Theatre & Paragon picture house in Victoria Street, so lots of entertainment for all. Eventually losing our cinemas with them being turned into bingo Halls like the Rex & the Queens picture house.
There were several dance halls like the Alex in Armstrong Street also many of the church halls had regular weekly dances. After dancing the night away what better than to call at the local Chippy for Fish & chips. There was so many chippy’s in the West Marsh from Batties, Drakes, Rex, Four Ways, and many more.
Then we must not forget the public houses as this was a major part of socialising for working people growing up in the Marsh virtually a pub on every corner. Corporation Road, had many like Kingy’s the New Club, Artisans & the Long Ship and many more public houses.
All had their own ways, but all were communities which worked and played, cried and laughed, grieved and celebrated together. Together they were the West Marsh.
Thanks to Jane Hyldon King for this valuable contribution