Ice was no chin-chin thing to keep a drink cold; ice was business, titanic big, tonnes crushed for the trawlers to keep fish fresh in the hold tides away from land. Now machines are hushed;
then, up at four we were, 20 waggons waiting for 20 tonnes of ice each. You’d eat off the floor it was so polished. Pans of water chilled in a freezing pool of brine, sliding out in slabs. No more;
now there’s pigeon shit on machines, copper wiring ripped. Can you fathom this was progress? No hacking ice from frozen ponds, nor importing ice from Norway. Ammonia compressed
in the machines meant man-made ice on demand for the biggest fishing fleet afloat. Cod wars, and fishing was dying. I stayed on as gallons of water drained. No shame in admitting to a grown man crying.
The Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust was unsuccessful in its recent bid for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund, despite being on the 2014 World Monuments Watch, a worldwide list of cultural sites at risk of being lost forever. The Ice Factory was built in 1901, and closed its doors in 1990. Mike Sonley, former chief rigger, was the last man to work there.
Lisa Kelly’s pamphlet, Bloodhound, was published by Hearing Eye in 2012. She is a regular host of poetry evenings at the Torriano Meeting House, London.