The Ice Factory, Grimsby, Lincolnshire, UK

Grimsby Ice Factory

The Grimsby Ice Factory was the largest producer of ice in the world. Compressors from the 1930s are still in place and are the oldest and largest example of such to remain.

Visited February 2015  UK Grimsby, UK Derelict

History of the Grimsby Ice Factory

The Grimsby Ice Factory was built in 1901 to produce ice for the fishing fleets. At the time refrigeration techniques were in their infancy and it was not possible to build chilling units onto a ship. Instead, ice was produced in large quantities on land and distributed onto ships before they left port. The fish they caught could then be packed in ice for the return journey.

Initially steam was used to power the factory, however as demand increased and the benefits of electricity were realised, the plant was upgraded to use electrically driven compressors in 1930. J&E Hall of Dartford, Kent undertook the task of replacing the refrigeration equipment and Metropolitan-Vickers of Manchester were commissioned to provide the electric motors.

Grimsby Ice Factory - External including conveyors for transporting ice to ships
Grimsby Ice Factory – External including conveyors for transporting ice to ships

The compressors were the workhorse of the factory. They compress ammonia, causing it to cool down significantly. The heat was expelled from heat exchanger coils on the roof, while the supercooled ammonia was pumped to coils around which brine from ice tanks was circulated. This in turn cooled the brine to around -13 degrees Celsius (8°F).

The tank rooms were where the ice was produced. Freshwater was pumped from two bore-holes beneath the factory and poured into moulds. The moulds were lowered into the brine where the freshwater froze as the moulds were pushed gradually through the tank. Once the moulds reach the far end of the tank the ice was tipped out and crushed ready to be used by the fishing fleet. Conveyors transported the ice directly onto the awaiting ships.

Four of the J&E Hall’s compressors were installed initially, and a fifth unit was added in the 1950s during a further period of expansion. At its height, the Ice House could produce 1,100 tons of ice per day. This made it by far the largest ice factory in the world.

The factory saw expansion to the tank rooms over the years too. In 1907 two additional ice tanks were added, and a seventh during the 1950s expansion. A decline in demand and new technologies for ice production led to the factory being scaled down in 1976. The factory closed down completely in 1990.

Grimsby Ice Factory - Four J&E Hall Compressors in the main compressor hall
Grimsby Ice Factory – Four J&E Hall Compressors in the main compressor hall

 

Historical Significance

The huge J&E Hall compressors remain in place, and are the only example of such to remain. They are also the largest compressors of this type ever constructed, so they are of great historical significance. The Ice Factory has been Grade II listed to preserve the compressors, however the building continues to fall into a state or dereliction.

The Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust (GGIFT) was formed to explore ideas for sustainable re-use of the building. A survey commissioned by North East Lincolnshire Council indicates it may cost £5 million to preserve the factory, and many times that amount to fully restore it.

 

Grimsby Ice Factory - Side-on view of the compressor hall
Grimsby Ice Factory – Side-on view of the compressor hall
Grimsby Ice Factory - Compressor hall
Grimsby Ice Factory – Compressor hall
Grimsby Ice Factory - J&E Hall Compressors
Grimsby Ice Factory – Hall’s Compressors
 
Grimsby Ice Factory - Decaying Hall
Grimsby Ice Factory – Decaying Hall

 

J&E Hall Compressor Details

Grimsby Ice Factory - Compressor side view
Grimsby Ice Factory – Compressor side view
 
Grimsby Ice Factory - Rear of the compressors
Grimsby Ice Factory – Rear of then compressors
Grimsby Ice Factory - The compressors stand proud amongst the grime
Grimsby Ice Factory – The compressors stand proud amongst the grime
Grimsby Ice Factory - Metropolitan Vickers Electric Motors
Grimsby Ice Factory – Metropolitan Vickers Electric Motors
Grimsby Ice Factory - J&E Hall Maker's Stamp
Grimsby Ice Factory – J&E Hall Maker’s Stamp
Grimsby Ice Factory - Pipes!
Grimsby Ice Factory – Pipes!
 
Grimsby Ice Factory - Between the compressors
Grimsby Ice Factory – Between the compressors
Grimsby Ice Factory - Compressors and switchgear
Grimsby Ice Factory – Compressors and switchgear
Grimsby Ice Factory - Controls
Grimsby Ice Factory – Controls
Grimsby Ice Factory - Traditional green and gold paintwork
Grimsby Ice Factory – Traditional green and gold paintwork
Grimsby Ice Factory - Please close this door
Grimsby Ice Factory – Please close this door
Grimsby Ice Factory - Electrical Switchgear
Grimsby Ice Factory – Electrical Switchgear
 
Grimsby Ice Factory - Power consumption records
Grimsby Ice Factory – Power consumption records
Grimsby Ice Factory - Small hall office
Grimsby Ice Factory – Small office

 

Ice Tank Rooms

The ice tanks were super-cooled tanks of brine. Buckets of freshwater were lowered into them which froze into ice as they were slowly pushed through the tank.

Grimsby Ice Factory - Array or pipes used for filling the ice buckets
Grimsby Ice Factory – Array or pipes used for filling the ice buckets
Grimsby Ice Factory - A set of ice buckets
Grimsby Ice Factory – A set of ice buckets
 
Grimsby Ice Factory - Tipped buckets
Grimsby Ice Factory – Tipped buckets
Grimsby Ice Factory - Once frozen, the ice buckets were hauled up and the ice tipped out
Grimsby Ice Factory – Once frozen, the ice buckets were hauled up and the ice tipped out
Grimsby Ice Factory - Spiked rollers crushed the ice ready for use
Grimsby Ice Factory – Spiked rollers crushed the ice ready for use
Grimsby Ice Factory - Conveyors move the ice between floors
Grimsby Ice Factory – Conveyors move the ice between floors
 
Grimsby Ice Factory - Conveyors outside transport the ice to ships
Grimsby Ice Factory – Conveyors outside transport the ice to ships

 

Pumps and Tanks

A number of pumps were used to retrieve freshwater from bore holes under the factory.

Grimsby Ice Factory - Ammonia storage tanks
Grimsby Ice Factory – Ammonia storage tanks
Grimsby Ice Factory - Pumps and valves
Grimsby Ice Factory – Pumps and valves
 
Grimsby Ice Factory - Pump bed
Grimsby Ice Factory – Pump bed
Grimsby Ice Factory - Pump room
Grimsby Ice Factory – Pump room

 

Compressor Number 5

A fifth compressor was added in the 1950s in a seperate, smaller hall.

Grimsby Ice Factory - Number 5 in small hall
Grimsby Ice Factory – Number 5 in its hall
 
Grimsby Ice Factory - Compressor Number 5
Grimsby Ice Factory – Compressor No. 5

 

Other areas of the factory

Grimsby Ice Factory - Smashed up offices
Grimsby Ice Factory – Smashed up offices
 
Grimsby Ice Factory - Electrical Workshop
Grimsby Ice Factory – Electrical Workshop
Grimsby Ice Factory - View from the roof
Grimsby Ice Factory – View from the roof
 
Grimsby Ice Factory - Freshwater storage
Grimsby Ice Factory – Freshwater storage
Grimsby Ice Factory - Remains of the heat exchangers on the roof
Grimsby Ice Factory – Remains of the heat exchangers on the roof

Now and Then – a look at how the Ice Factory has changed

I found some historic photos of the Ice Factory, so re-took the same shots to show a comparison of how it has changed. Many changes were made to the equipment over the years since these photos were taken, and the factory has become a mess since its closure.

Grimsby Ice Factory Now and Then - Overview of the compressor hall
Grimsby Ice Factory Now and Then – Overview of the compressor hall

Grimsby Ice Factory Now and Then - Compressor number 3
Grimsby Ice Factory Now and Then – Compressor number 3

Grimsby Ice Factory Now and Then - Pump and electrical gear
Grimsby Ice Factory Now and Then – Pump and electrical gear. All equipment replaced since original photo.

Grimsby Ice Factory Now and Then - Ice Tank Number 1
Grimsby Ice Factory Now and Then – Ice Tank Number 1

Author: Andy Kay | Facebook | Flickr | Instagram

Leave a reply