Grimsby & Cleethorpes : The Home of Cod Cheeks & Dollie Jewellery

This is the home of Dollie Jewellery!

We are based in Grimsby & Cleethorpes, two towns that are completely entwined, their borders completely invisible, so that the two towns just merge into one large conurbation. The towns of Grimsby & Cleethorpes are placed at the mouth of the River Humber on the UK's north Lincolnshire coast.

 

(photo credit :PECKS19 instgram)

It's a place of huge skies, wide expanses of water, sandy beaches, breakwaters, shipping lanes, seagulls, chips, ice-cream, and cold winds blowing in from the North Sea, and with surprisingly the lowest average rainfall, one of the driest places in the UK!

Grimsby is a port with more emphasis on servicing the offshore wind farms than fishing these days. The docks area is a scruffy reminder of its past grand fishing heritage, and has lots of broken down buildings and abandoned fishing boats, an artists dream. There are still lots of thriving fish processing factories and fish merchants dotted all over the docks area, one of my personal favourites is "Cod Cheek House", a real business that literally fillets out the "cheeks" of the Cod fish.  It's a local delicacy, and these days pounds of this local hero food is now shipped out of Grimsby to the continent. I remember my grandma serving up cod cheeks to us as kids. These little nuggets of white fish meat, don't contain any bones, so were always preferentially given to us kids, absolutely delicious shallow fried in breadcrumbs! Today, it's eaten much less than in the past, as young people have less contact with the docks and fishing industry, and have lost touch with 'cod cheeks'. They're still readily available directly on the docks or at local markets. I often see cod cheeks, sold on our "Top Town" market, (a local name for the market hall adjacent to the indoor shopping centre of Freshney Place)

(Cod Cheeks)

At one time, almost all local families had some sort of connection to the docks or fishing industry in Grimsby, so almost everyone knew the old traditions and stuck by them, like not having a haircut on a Sunday, staying away from the colour green (as it was said to be unlucky) only eating haddock fish fillets - not cod, (as cod is a bottom feeder and has more worms and parasites than haddock.) Today most of the local fish and chip shops serve haddock routinely, a local tradition which is still thriving. But even that is being eroded, as holiday makers visiting the town from inland, demand cod, I've noticed some of our local chippys now serving cod - my grandfather would be turning in his grave!

Haddock & Chips

(photo credit :Dreamwalls, instagram)

Grimsby town centre has everything we need, but maybe not everything we desire. Right next to the historic St James Church or Minster as its now known, we have a well kept indoor shopping centre, which when visiting, locals say "I'm going to top town or up town". The shopping centre is the heart of the town, and although relatively compact, its well visited by locals in the two towns and surrounding villages. Radiating out from the shopping centre, is mostly packed tight with rows and rows of Victorian terraces, with smaller pockets of larger houses and some new developments, and businesses which then roll out towards the seaside resort of Cleethorpes. It's a 4 mile drive by bus or car from Grimsby town centre to Cleethorpes, through a scruffy hotch-potch of housing and small shops, some sparkling and new like Tesco Express, and others boarded up waiting for the next entrepreneur. Only locals know where the borders are, the two towns have now merged seamlessly into one.

The Humber Estuary is 3 miles wide at its mouth with the North Sea, and has one of the busiest shipping lanes in the UK, with huge cargo vessels making their way back and forth to the larger port of Immingham and Hull further inland. Looking out onto the water from the long promenade at Cleethorpes beach, you can lose hours watching the waves and shipping traffic.

Shipping vessels in the Humber

(photo credit : PECKS19, instagram)

Cleethorpes has a long golden sandy beach, complete with pier, donkeys, ferris wheel, ice-creams, chips and candy floss stalls.

(photo credit: badger_jon, instagram)

The beach fades away into murky waters towards the docks of Grimsby to the north-west, and merges with grassy salt marsh of the Lincolnshire coast to the south-east. The long golden stretch of beach can be the most idyllic place on a calm sunny day, with water smooth as a millpond stretching forever reflecting the blue skies, and shells and seaweed decorating the tideline, waves gently lapping the shore. The picture changes dramatically on a cold winter's morning, when the wind churns up the water murky brown with sediment, and foamy white waves crash violently onto the beach, and the wind blows so cold and hard, you can taste the salt air on your lips, and you wonder how anyone can possibly be out on the water in this weather, as we watch the shipping lanes still busy with vessels. The tidal waters are treacherous, with fast flowing creeks sweeping the unwary out to sea, and fast incoming tides cutting off holiday makers on shifting sandbanks. The RNLI lifeboat is kept busy all year, rescuing dog walkers and holiday makers from rising tidewaters surrounding them on all sides. 

Foamy Seas at Cleethorpes Beach

(photo credit: PECKS19, Instagram)

Cleethorpes also has a thriving old fashioned high street, with butchers, bakers and a variety of 'essentials' shopping, and is a mix of nationals and independent retailers. It's always busy, fed by foot traffic from the dozens of terrace houses branching off into the residential areas. Places to eat out are plentiful and deliciously cheap compared the the rest of the UK. Housing is cheap and we have no fight for school places that has become a 'thing' in other areas of the UK. There's no drama here families generally just send their kids to the nearest school. The towns are small, combined population is around 130,000, with Grimsby being the larger of the two, but Cleethorpes's population swelled to well over double in the summer months when holidaymakers visit.

Nowhere is very far away, beach, town, shops, swimming pools, countryside, parks, and play areas, and the roads aren't snarled up with traffic.

This is our home that we love, where we work, live, play, this is where we create Dollie Jewellery.

Leave a comment