Action needed to secure future of silo tower at Victoria Mills
Victoria Mills, Grimsby, Lincolnshire (Grade II, 1889 and 1906, Sir William Gelder of Hull)
National architectural charity, the Victorian Society, has included Victoria Mills in Grimsby on its 2016 list of the Top Ten Endangered in England and Wales. The move comes days after demolition of the town's historic ‘kasbah' dock buildings began. For the first time there are no buildings in London and the South East on the list - where the Society had comparatively few nominations. The Society considers that the greater number of buildings nominated from elsewhere may reflect the more difficult development situation in areas like lincolnshire. Griff Rhys Jones, Victorian Society Vice President, has urged people living near the buildings on the list to ‘seize the opportunity' and campaign to save them.
The Victoria Mills in Grimsby is Grade II listed and dominates the Grimsby skyline. The former flourmill, warehouse and office complex was built in phases between 1889 and 1906 to designs of Sir William Gelder of Hull and partially converted to flats in the 1990s.
Now the tower of this Grimsby landmark, which was not converted to housing, has suffered from structural difficulties. As a result, some people living in the flats were made homeless for weeks due to their homes being declared unsafe. After the owner failed to take action, the Council carried out work to allow residents to return home and prevent a collapse onto a main road. While the Council battles to recoup the costs of this work the long term future of the tower remains uncertain. The owner should either sell the silo tower or reapply for planning permission for conversion to residential - the existing permission having expired. Failure to take action to secure the building in the long term will simply see the Council being forced to carry out more emergency work in the future. Pictures are here.
Grimsby's Ice Factory featured in our 2010 Top Ten Endangered Buildings and Wintringham School and School Board Offices in our 2013 Top Ten.
The national exposure from inclusion in the Society's Top Ten often leads to new interest in the buildings which can help save them. Full details of all the buildings in the 2016 Top Ten, and updates on positive developments for last year's buildings, can be found here.
Victorian Society Director, Christopher Costelloe, said: ‘I hope inclusion in the Top Ten will spur North East Lincolnshire Council and the owners to urgently find a way to bring the silo tower at Victoria Mills back into use. The Council was right to take emergency action but a long term plan is needed. Retaining historic buildings like those in the Top Ten is vital to maintaining local identity and creating places in which people want to invest, live and work. At a time when Associated British Ports its demolishing some of the world's greatest industrial fishing heritage in Grimsby this is more important than ever'.
Griff Rhys Jones, Victorian Society Vice President, said: ‘The nationally important buildings on the Victorian Society's Top Ten list are in dire need of help. Many of them are in prominent locations in their towns and cities. Following my experience with the Hackney Empire I know how difficult finding funding can be - especially outside London. However, restoring important historic buildings is worth investing in as it can be a catalyst for wider regeneration. I hope people living near these buildings will seize this opportunity and campaign to save them. Ultimately, it is the support of local people which will ensure that they are not lost forever.'