ABP restoring heritage buildings on operational ports

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Rob Morton, Lead Property Asset Manager (Humber), shares his thoughts on how the UK’s leading port operator manages its heritage.

Ports are dynamic commercial environments which move with demands of customers and rapidly evolving world trade needs.

If a port cannot adapt then it will stagnate, as its infrastructure and land use will cease to be relevant to the prevailing needs of that period. The rapid pace of these changes can be seen in many buildings on the Port of Grimsby where some of the changes to the buildings can be viewed as being historic.

Within the part of the port called The Kasbah, stands the last of the original buildings constructed between the 1850s and early 1900s. ABP has 90 historic buildings, eight are listed. Therefore, our heritage led regeneration needs to be sensitive to stimulate economic growth but also preserve the historic identity.

The Kasbah has a special place in the economic and social history of the town of Grimsby and of the fishing industry in general. Over the years uses have changed and the buildings changed for much of that time. However, as traditional fishing in the port declined, the buildings declined and what remains are pockets of thriving business interspersed with empty buildings in need of restoration.

As part of ABP’s ambition to breathe new life in to this special location, twelve buildings have initially been earmarked for requiring works. This list of buildings and required works have been identified from condition surveys undertaken by ABP, Historic England, and North East Lincolnshire Council, as part of grant-funded projects or through other surveys.

The work being undertaken within the conservation zone, which was adopted in 2017, has shown a shift by ABP when it comes to what is left of our heritage. Our vision examines future opportunities and developments that present themselves in the context of historic buildings located within an operational port.

The Kasbah is becoming a place to go for many film makers, as being one of the few areas outside of London which has conserved its heritage. Henderson Street, which features in the latest Netflix drama, Bodies, which airs on the streaming platform on October 16th, is one of the few streets on the port which presents an ideal closed film location with its red brick period buildings.

Considerable focus has been placed in recent years upon the need to preserve the most important historic buildings here. The buildings, many with davits and sail loft doors, create this period street scene image and the renovation work will preserve the character and authenticity of these industrial properties.

This roll out of renovation works is only the beginning for the historic area of the docks as it enters a new golden age. Heritage restoration is not new to us.

Over in our Port of Hull considerable money was spent in preserving and restoring the Pump House, a grade-II listed industrial building which received Hull Civic Society’s Good Mark award in 2018.

The Victorian building, packed with original features was restored thanks to a £1.1 million grant from Hull City Council in 2017. ABP worked with civil engineering firm A Torn Construction to bring it back to life. This included a new roof, sash windows and brickwork repairs.

The Pump House was built in 1885 to hydraulically power the opening of the lock gates on Alexandra Dock, now Green Port Hull. It now serves as an event space for our colleagues.

In our Port of Goole, the Grade-II* listed No. 5 Compartment Boat Hoist, the last of its kind in the world, was given an overhaul with a £105,500 grant from Historic England in 2019, followed in 2020 by the £50,000 restoration of the Grade II listed Hydraulic Accumulator Tower next to it.

Known as Tom Puddings, the No. 5 was built in 1912 and served to transport coal along the Aire and Calder Navigation Canal. It sits within the area of the port used by the Goole Model Boat Club and is opened once a year for Heritage Open Days.

Projects like this open opportunities to skill those interested in heritage crafts, of which there are many on the brink of extinction. Hands on learning in various trades would give experience in the construction industry on the conservation of real buildings.

Plans are well progressed for the restoration of the Grade II* Ice Factory, which stands at the entrance to this historic area, to transform it in to an events and conference centre, with offices and a hotel, the regeneration of the site is an exciting prospect.

The Kasbah is a more ambitious project but by safeguarding these structures it not only will be a reminder of the story of the greatest fishing port in the world but will also serve to connect people whether through those historic connections or through the world of TV and film.

For more information on hiring The Kasbah for your next location, please visit https://thekasbah.co.uk/creatives/filming-location/