Lincolnshire Bookseller

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A Brief History of Grimsby

Grimsby was founded by the Danes in the 9th century AD. It was originally called Grim's by or Grimmr's by and is shrouded in legend. The Danish word 'by' meant village. At the advent of the Domesday Book in 1066 Grimsby was a moderately sized village with a population of perhaps of approximately 300.
Because of its location, Grimsby became a natural port and during the 12th century Grimsby expanded into a busy port. Fishing was, of course, the mainstay rather than trade however some ships brought timber from Norway and wine from France and Spain. Coal was brought by sea along the coast from Newcastle.

In 1132 an Augustinian Abbey was founded at Grimsby. In 1184 a nunnery, dedicated to St Leonard was founded. By the 13th century there was also a leper hostel at Grimsby, run by the church. Also in the 13th century friars arrived in Grimsby. The friars were like monks but instead of withdrawing from the world they went out to preach and help the poor. Franciscan friars (known as grey friars because of their grey costumes) arrived in Grimsby in 1240. Austin or white friars arrived in 1293.

In 1201 Grimsby was given a charter by King John (a charter was a document granting the townspeople certain rights). From then on Grimsby had its own court and its own local government. By 1218 Grimsby had a mayor. In the Middle Ages Grimsby was a fair sized town with perhaps 1,500-2,000 inhabitants.

In the 15th century The Haven (which runs into the River Humber) began to silt up. As a result Grimsby entered into a long period of decline. During the 16th and 17th centuries Grimsby continued to decline and the population fell. Grimsby dwindled to being little more than a large village with a market. However imports of coal grew steadily more important. Grain from the surrounding countryside was exported from Grimsby. In 1801 Grimsby was a tiny place with a population of just 1,524. Grimsby was no bigger and perhaps slightly smaller than it was in the Middle Ages. However it grew rapidly. By 1831 the population of Grimsby was just over 4,000. By 1851 it had reached 8,860. By the end of the 19th century the population of Grimsby was 75,000.

Grimsby boomed as a port. Iron, timber, wheat, hemp and flax were imported. In the later 19th century coal brought from the South Yorkshire coal field by rail was exported. Many emigrants passed through Grimsby on their way to America. By 1801 The Haven was deepened. However in the 2nd half of the 19th century it was reclaimed and new docks were built.

Amenities in Grimsby improved in the 19th century. In 1800 some streets were paved and lit by oil lamps. After 1838 gas light was used. In 1837 the first police force in Grimsby was formed. In 1854 a water company was formed to provide piped water ( to those who could afford it). Also in the 1850s sewers were dug under Grimsby. The Town Hall was built in 1863. Grimsby gained its first newspaper in 1871, todays paper, the Grimsby Evening Telegraph has its own website, were can can find out more about what is (or is not !) happening in Grimsby .

The Grimsby and District Hospital was built in 1877. The railway reached Grimsby in 1848. The population of Grimsby was 75,000 in 1901. It grew to 92,000 by 1931. The population then levelled off and hardly grew at all in the 20th century. The first public library in Grimsby opened in 1900.

Today Grimsby has, along with most towns that were reliant on one industry, diversified. The fish docks are virtually empty, however other port facilities are now responsible for the import and export of huge numbers of new cars etc.

Overall not a bad place to live - if only there were more books about though !

Also very close to Lincoln and Horncastle, great places for books. Please also visit Horncastle Bookshop for more information on where to buy secondhand and collectable books

For fine dining in Lincolnshire visit Miles Collins at Branston Hall

  Goldeneye Rare Books  2004

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