The Dock Tower - Grimsby's iconic landmark - celebrates its 165th birthday today

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 27 Mar 2017

AS you drive into Grimsby, chances are you will spot its iconic landmark - the Dock Tower but what do you really know about it?

Many of you have been brave and abseiled down the sides of it for various charity groups and organisations and in June 2012 it was the starting place for the Olympic relay baton in the town for day two of the torch procession.

We recently asked people what was their favourite landmark of our area, from the pier to the Minster, but the Dock Tower came out tops with 44 per cent of the vote.

Completed on March 27, 1852 - Grimsby Dock Tower celebrates its 165th birthday today. Although seen now as a maritime landmark, it was built as a hydraulic accumulator tower, for the purpose of containing a 30,000-imperial-gallon (140,000 L) reservoir at a height of 200 feet (61 m).

The Dock Tower and Grimsby Royal Dock nears completion in this painting of the time in 1852. Submitted photo ABP.

More: Changing face of Grimsby dock film

It provided hydraulic power to assist the machinery of the Grimsby Dock such as the lock gates, 15 quayside cranes (at the time) and sluices. Small pumps topped up the tank as the hydraulic machinery drew off water. It also helped to supply fresh water to ships and to houses within the dock premises.

The now Grade I listed tower was designed by James William Wild who based its appearance on that of the Torre del Mangia on the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. It was built under the supervision of J. M. Rendel, who was the civil engineer in charge of construction of the Royal Dock.

It is believed that around one million bricks were used in its construction - the tower stands 309 feet (94 m) high, is 28 feet (8.5 m) wide at the base, and tapers gradually to 26 feet (7.9 m) below the first projection; its walls are 4 feet (1.2 m) thick and narrow to 3 feet (0.91 m) at the string course under the corbels.

The bricks of this plain brick tower were made from clay obtained from excavations in the marsh adjoining the docks, and are set in blue lime mortar. Hoop iron bond is used in the walls to a considerable extent. The foundation of the tower is a solid masonry wall built upon a timber bearer piling.

More: Dock tower photo gallery

The water was obtained via a cast iron pipe thirteen inches in diameter from a well, 15 ft (4.6 m) in diameter and 47 ft (14 m) deep, with a boring of 5 in (130 mm) in diameter to the chalk rock in the centre, situated near to the flyover on Cleethorpe Road. The well was also fed by seven borings of 5 in (130 mm) in diameter, at intervals in a length of 300 ft (91 m), which discharged into the well by a brick culvert 3 ft (0.91 m) in diameter.

Water was then forced into the tank by two force pumps, each of ten inches in diameter, worked by a duplicate, horizontal engine of twenty-five horse power. The engines, pumps and pipes and the whole of the machinery were fabricated by Mr Mitchell of the Perran Foundry, Cornwall.

The ground floor of the tower was lined with pink, white and blue drapery when Queen Victoria came with Prince Albert to visit the dock and officially open the tower, two years later, in October, 1854. Her Majesty gave permission for Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal to accompany Mr Randel in the hydraulic lift to the gallery running around the tower to view the surrounding areas.

The Dock Tower continued to provide water until 1892, when the erection of the hydraulic accumulator tower on the opposite pier approximately 200 feet (61 m) took over. Today, dock and all lock machinery are powered by electric or electro-hydraulic energy. The tower is the subject of a Preservation Order

During the Second World War, there were plans to demolish the tower, as it acted as a beacon for German Luftwaffe aircraft heading towards Liverpool. A plaque can be viewed paying tribute to the minesweeper crews of the war. The tower's lift is no longer in operation, with access to the top via a spiral staircase in one corner of the building. The second balcony is currently used for the transmission and reception of radio signals.

At Legoland in Windsor, there is a model of the Grimsby Dock Tower entirely constructed of Lego (though not entirely correct in its depiction). It joins three other Grimsby buildings; the ABP port office, Flour Mills and Corporation Bridge.

2004 - Poncho Pete holds on tight to his 12 foot tall Dock Tower on the Royal Dock, Grimsby.

In October 2013 - the tower featured in a relay, as part of National Poetry Day - The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner was read in full by 74 different contributors at locations around the country.

In 2015, the Dock Tower was included in the famous Monopoly - Grimsby edition and the game launched from the top of the tower!

Also in February, 2015 - the Dock Tower image was used by Young's seafood when they rebranded their packaging. Speaking at the time, Pete Ward, Young's Seafood chief executive, said: "It is wonderful to see the Grimsby seascape so beautifully reflected through our master brand. The history and heritage of our business is important to everyone involved in Young's and we are delighted that, through this new branding, we will communicate that to all our customers when they purchase our frozen and chilled products."

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Ports & Logistics News
Share Article

Grimsby News

Young's Seafood shock as 30m Asda contracts leave Ross House

Hull & East Riding News

East Yorkshire's new Siemens factory gets 1.5bn deal to build London Underground trains

Scunthorpe News

Going underground! British Steel's Transport for London contract is extended

Your News

Would you want your employees working from home? Read more in our Your News special report