Bygones: Regular trips 'Over The Tip'
WHEN I was a young child growing up on the West Marsh during the 1950s, “Over The Tip” was a mysterious place, writes Jeff Beedham.
This was a general term used by adults to describe the Pyewipe area that began after Gilbey Road had disappeared over Cleveland Bridge.
From Littlecoates School playground, the smoke from steam engines could be seen as they shunted wagons in the busy Great Coates sidings or steamed along the Grimsby Immingham Light Railway to the docks.
The Immingham trams started from a small terminus “Over The Tip” next to where the No 1 Bus turned around.
During the hot summer months this area appeared to be the source of a strange selection of pungent aromas that regularly drifted over the West Marsh.
All this happened past where the West Marsh houses stopped and past where the River Freshney disappeared under the railway sidings.
Cleveland Bridge had been built in the early 1900s in order to carry Gilbey Road and the street section of the new Grimsby Immingham tramway over the busy Great Coates railway sidings.
At the same time Sir Walter Gilbey sold off the first part of his Littlecoates estate land from Pyewipe Road to the bottom of the bridge for housing developments.
Probably in order to explain and de-mystify this area to me, on a Sunday morning my late father would regularly take me “Over The Tip” for a walk.
We would take the well-trodden shortcut through the dock gates at the bottom of Ayscough Street, which was just round the corner from our house, then through the deal yards to the Humber Bank.
This used to be a popular place for wildfowlers, and shooting ducks and geese among the muddy creeks. It was also an ideal place for local men to gather before the pubs opened on a Sunday to play “pitch and toss” using a weighty silver Half Crown (2/6d) tossed into the air as bets were taken.
As gambling was illegal there was always a “lookout” posted nearby in case a docks policeman appeared.
Shortly after Cleveland Bridge was completed, Grimsby Corporation established a rubbish tip in an old brickpit next to Gilbey Road and for many years the Corporation’s electric dustcarts, sometimes with local children clinging on the back, struggled silently over the bridge to dump their contents at the rubbish tip.
This probably explains why the area soon became known locally as “Over The Tip.”
Because of its remote location outside the town boundary it soon became home to a selection of fish curing companies, including Bowring’s, British Fish Curing Ltd and Hawes & Co Ltd, to name just a few.
Fish was split open, cleaned, salted and left to dry on row upon row of racks in the nearby fields. This arduous and monotonous work was carried out in antiquated draughty fish houses, mainly by hardy local women.
By the 1930s Grimsby Fish Docks were producing thousands of tons of fish waste every week and the privately-owned Victorian Fish Meal factory next to the River Freshney could not cope so the Grimsby Fish Merchants’ Association decided to build a new Grimsby Fish Meal factory on land close to the rubbish tip.
It gradually expanded to its present size, employing more than 100 staff in its heyday.
Every day fish meal lorries with their smelly cargo of fish waste with streams of noxious liquor dribbling from gaps in the open metal containers on the back of the lorries would regularly rumble along Corporation and Gilbey roads from the Fish Docks going “Over The Tip” to the smelly Fish Meal factory.
Next to the approach to Cleveland Bridge was a large grass field known as “Speedy’s field” which was leased by a nearby farm for grazing its cattle.
The Great Grimsby Greyhound Track Company acquired planning permission to use a portion of this field near Elsenham Road as a greyhound track, opening c1935.
Captain FA Richardson’s 1936 Social Survey of the port of Grimsby noted that the track was “frequented mainly by men who work in the timber yards and on cargo ships, it is not used to a great extent by fishermen”.
The track, situated close to the bridge embankment, was surrounded by a high fence, but non-paying spectators, including my father, could lean on the fence of the bridge embankment and watch the racing on the track below.
The greyhound track only lasted a couple of years before the field was returned to pasture.
During the 1950s while I attended Littlecoates School, herds of grazing cattle could still be seen from the school’s new canteen, which was built at the entrance to Speedy’s field at the end of Elsenham Road. Railway sidings were later laid on the field and it was used for unloading and storing bales of imported woodpulp for the nearby Peter Dixon paper mill.
Today, Cleveland Bridge is closed to road vehicles due to structural problems, but the council still has its refuse depot “Over The Tip”.
However, the once busy railway sidings are empty, the trams and No 1 bus are long gone and so are the fish houses, with the exception of the substantial British Fish Curing Ltd premises standing behind the former fish meal factory that is now called United Fish Industries.