Race to save the 'crumbling' former Wintringham Grammar School building in Grimsby
COUNCIL chiefs are in a race against time to preserve one of Grimsby's most iconic buildings.
Fears grew for its survival as experts assessed the "crumbling" former Wintringham Grammar School in Eleanor Street for damage yesterday.
Although it is a listed building and privately-owned, there are growing concerns about public safety and emergency repairs may have to be carried out by North East Lincolnshire Council.
Built nearly 120 years ago, the building, which later became part of Grimsby School of Art, has been redundant for about 20 years.
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The site was Grimsby Technical School from 1953 to 1981 and then became Grimsby School of Art, which closed in the mid-1990s.
There were plans to convert the listed building into flats, but it never came to fruition, and the site is frequently vandalised.
The problem has become so bad, nearby residents claim their homes have been devalued, although this has not been officially confirmed.
North East Lincolnshire Council's head of development, Jason Longhurst, said there are concerns over its condition within the conservation area.
He said: "We have written to the owner on a number of occasions to try to resolve the situation, but without success.
"Now we're having to look ourselves to see if any emergency repairs are required and what steps we need to take to move the issue forward."
Grimsby, Cleethorpes and District Civic Society member and historian Ernie Brown said: "I think it has gone too far now. If a developer were interested in it they would have to demolish the school first and use the site.
"The structure is crumbling and has been exposed to the elements.
That is a shame but it is due to years of neglect. I have watched the deterioration day after day when walking past."
Former pupil and organiser of the annual Wintringham School reunions Audrey Eastcrabbe, 81, said: "I echo the feelings of my former schoolfriend Betty Broxholme when she wrote to the Telegraph stating how mortified she was at the state of the old school. She was utterly amazed as to why it has been left as such an eyesore. She found this so upsetting.
"It was such a wonderful atmosphere in the school, even though it was wartime. It was the most amazing school with the most amazing staff.
"It was big enough to teach 900 students and was the second largest co-educational school in England in the mid-Thirties."
Former Grimsby School of Art lecturer Alf Ludlam said: "It is too late to save it. It has been empty for so long. When we left it in 1991 it was perfectly serviceable. Since then it has needed constant work to it, but it was serviceable."
He hoped someone would step in to restore the former school in the same way as the old county court in Brighowgate was saved from demolition.