The Decline of Freeman Street in Grimsby
A look at the sad decline of a once important part of a town that was once the largest fishing port in the world
Freeman Street in Grimsby is known to to Grimbarians everywhere, once as a vibrant integral part of the town and now sadly for quite the opposite.
It’s a modern tale, which could be told in many other towns, and a sad tale as it’s one of irrevocable decline.
It owed its initial success to its location, right next to the Fish Docks, and the famous Freeman Street Market . . .
Whilst I don’t personally remember it in during the best of times I certainly recall it when it still relatively thrived, despite the Decline of the Grimsby Fishing Industry. The , by now, indoor market was very popular and the numerous shops along both sides of the long street thrived.
The cinema was there, record shops were there and Marks and Spencer was there - plenty of reasons to still visit despite the modernisation and expansion of the Top Town shopping centre.
I may be wrong here but I think the terminal decline came when M&S pulled out, they even took the clock which wasn’t theirs to take I believe.
Their move to the Riverhead Shopping Centre (now Freshney Place) brought about a terminal decline in the fortunes of Freeman Street.
My theory is the Marks & Spencer store drew a lot of people to the street which in turn helped support many of the other businesses, once they pulled out a lot of people no longer needed to go and it wasn’t long before shops began to close, each one another nail in the coffin, and it started the journey to where it is today.
If you wanted a film location for a run down area in a ‘Grim Up North’ style location then it’s, sadly, perfect !
It’s populated now by boarded and shuttered up shops, charity shops, a few hopeful businesses which appear to run on a shoestring and the few people about appear beleaguered and thoroughly beaten by life and surroundings - it’s a place that people who make the decisions and those that comment on them in the media should visit - it’s a long way from the square mile of Westminster!
I’d venture to suggest that not only would it be sobering for them but it may also be a chance to do something brave . . . and that is tell the truth.
I cannot help but feel it’s beyond hope, time and time again we hear of a new scheme to regenerate the area, they never work and I don’t think they ever will, the place, as it stands today has had its time - truth be told it had its time some years ago !
Freeman Street Market is still there but even less than a shadow of its former self, much like the market at Freshney Place it is another victim of changing times, hanging on by their finger tips and surviving thanks to a generation of people which is, quite literally, dying out.
I should declare an interest here as a Freeman of the Borough of Great Grimsby I own a share of the market and get a dividend from the rents, and other rents, every 6 months, the cheque, like the street, dwindles every year.
It’s a sad sight to see, it’s devoid of the opportunity for hope and the chance of making a life for oneself rather than being a slave to the government.
I really cannot think of anything at all which would turn it round, I wonder if the only approach is to start again, lose most of the shops and simply build some much needed public housing.
I think we can go into thoughts, opinions, reminiscences and historical facts below - all comments related to Freeman Street warmly welcomed
Sadly, but realistically, yours,