Tourism was not really on the agenda when the railways first came to our area. It was mentioned, but only as an incidental possibility.
The truth was that manufacturers, particularly in the midland factories were keen to have a railway line built to an east coast port in order to assist with the export of their goods. Grimsby fitted the bill.
Talk on this project lasted for about 10 years before, at long last in 1848-49, two lines were constructed. One was to Boston and linked to London via Peterborough. The other was from Sheffield, via Gainsborough, which linked to Manchester.
In effect, as well as goods traffic, this brought many visitors to Grimsby. In consequence, many ended walking through, or taking a horse drawn cart, through what is now the Sidney Sussex area of Grimsby Road to Cleethorpes.
Thus, the small tourist industry suddenly received a boost, which grew even larger as time went on. Carts turned to carriages and then to omnibuses to carry the increased traffic.
The time seemed ripe to the railway companies, and certainly to the visitors, to extend the line to Cleethorpes.
However, such an extension proved to be difficult, due to the line having to pass through several land owner’s properties. Sidney Sussex College offered to lease land for the track but prior to entering their land, there were other property owners to consider. Negotiations followed in 1849- 55 but all attempts to agree terms with the Thorald family and the Grimsby Enrolled Freemen, failed miserably, which stopped further progress.
However, this blocking problem could not continue and Parliamentary approval was eventually given in 1861, with the actual work starting in April 1862, by what later became, the Great Central Railway.
The track that was built ran for about two and a quarter miles, right through the Sidney Sussex area. It officially opened on the 6th April 1863.
The first Cleethorpes Railway Station was built also in 1863, at the end of Princes Road and is now used as a public house. The present station was built a very short distance away, as part of the railway company’s expansion plans in 1885 and this gave immediate access to the sea front.
In 1889, remodelling took place to create 6 platforms and 2 carriage sidings, whilst a new large signal box was built at the end of Suggitt’s Lane. The layout also included a turntable at the rear of the signal box
Cleethorpes was now connected to the rest of the country and expansion grew, and from the residents view, everything in the town seemed to change. Considerable growth and prosperity seemed likely.
Then, of course, came two world wars.
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