I read with interest that the makers of Monopoly are going to be introducing a Grimsby Edition, hopefully to be launched in time for Christmas (I’ve started my Christmas list early this year) and they are inviting ideas for what should be included. I will be sending them a link to this blog!
My mind scans all of the properties I have sold over the last 20+ years and I’ve come up with four buildings that I think should be included plus one (it’s not exactly a building, but more on that later) that I would love to get the job of selling.
I suspect readers may be surprised by my choices, but there is a logical reason for each and every one of them.
Albemarle House on Mill Road in Cleethorpes. Many people will not realise that Mill Road is a conservation area with some lovely old houses. The neighbouring property is Croft Baker – once a maternity home and my place of birth. Albemarle House has long since been converted in to apartments, but the reason for its inclusion in my list is it’s connection to the fishing industry and the person who it was built for. The house dates back to the early 1920’s although is of an Edwardian style. I remember being taught by the late Rex Critchlow that many houses in Grimsby and Cleethorpes look older than they really are. Travel was limited in those days, but when the wealthy travelled they liked what they saw and copied the designs later. It was built for the Osborne family, big players in the fishing industry. Osborne Street in Grimsby, where I had an office for many years, is named after the family. The amazing thing though about this house is there is a turret on the rear elevation which is straight in line with Grimsby’s dock tower. Story has it that is was designed this way so that Mr Osborne could sit at home and with the aid of a telescope watch boats coming in and out of the docks.
- The Electricity Showroom on Grimsby Road in Cleethorpes. I sold this building on behalf of The Yorkshire Electricity Board. It is a fabulous art deco style building dating from 1937 (again it looks older than it really is) and was designed and built by Leonard Pye who at the time was the Borough Engineer and Architect for Cleethorpes Borough Electricity Committee. It is described as being one of the best surviving examples of art deco architecture in the Humber Region. I don’t know what it is like inside now, but at the time it had a magnificent staircase, a timber panelled lift shaft, stain glassed windows and really elaborate urinals. I remember one of the local TV news programmes picking up on the sale and doing a feature which included footage of the toilets. I still have the video at home somewhere (but no vcr to watch it on!)
- Brighowgate Courthouse, Grimsby. This is a more recent sale and now the home to Bates and Mountain solicitors. My client bought the building from the council and refurbished it to a high standard, respecting it’s listed building status, with the property still retaining some wonderful wood panelling, tiling, parquet floors and radiators. The judge’s bench is still in situ. It was an obvious building for a solicitor to buy, prominent, close to the town centre, full of character and with a car park. I remember organising an open afternoon and inviting every firm of solicitors in the town to come and have a look round – we had a really busy afternoon. Eventually the firm that decided to buy it didn’t come around till a good few weeks later, oh the irony!
- Wonderland, Cleethorpes. This is my most recent sale of all of the buildings listed. The building itself if frankly awful, a steel frame with uninspiring cladding to the walls. The view from the railway line to the rear of the property was even less attractive when I went on the train from Cleethorpes last summer. I suspect it hasn’t improved but this isn’t about the building, it’s what it stands for that matters here. As a teenager it was a Friday evening treat to go in to Cleethorpes with a group of school friends to go to Wonderland with the dodgem cars, waltzers and other amusements. It was part of growing up and more recently it was a thriving Sunday market. They used to run bus trips from Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham etc to Cleethorpes just so that people could go shopping on the market. Those days have gone now, but good luck to those individuals and businesses who are looking to regenerate the sea-front area, I sincerely hope they are hugely successful.
- And finally, the building (well it’s not a building it’s a home) that I would dearly love to sell, is Blundell Park, the home to Grimsby Town FC. Why? Because if it is time to sell, it means that the dream that The Mariners move to a new stadium has finally come alive. If the new stadium is actually in Grimsby it means that GTFC will at last play their games at “home” instead of in Cleethorpes. I’ve spent many hours at Blundell Park over the years, not all of them happy ones (relegation parties aren’t actually that much fun). My first match with my grandfather was stood in the Harrington Street open corner, we then spent a few seasons in the Barratt Stand, going to the last game against West Ham (we lost) before it was pulled down. I then graduated to The Pontoon a particular highlight being the 0-0 draw against Chelsea (Dennis Wise, Ruud Gullit and all) in the FA Cup. It was the ground that lead to me going to Wembley twice in the same season (not many “big” clubs can boast that). So when the games makers get round to including Blundell Park on the monopoly board it will be interesting to see what price they put on it!
I’m looking forward to Christmas day already!