The two towns of Cleethorpes
The start of the Cleethorpes railway age made a huge difference to the resort. In 1864, there were 47,050 passengers departing from the railway station in what is now Sidney Sussex, whilst 70,462 were inward bound.
By 1881, these figures had increased to 184,689 outward and 283.022 inward, which is a massive increase. At weekends in particular, the resort was packed with people seeking a good time, whilst some locals of course, bemoaned the old quiet days of peaceful Cleethorpes.
This in turn encouraged a rapid rise in house building and of course an equal rapid increase in population. In 1851, the whole of Cleethorpes consisted of only 839 residents, which by 1871 had more than doubled to 1,768.
Quite a number of this increased population obtained their living in Grimsby, so besides being a developing seaside town it became, to some extent, a dormitory town for Grimsby.
The railway and the building of a new port in 1852 had affected Grimsby in a similar way, in that the population there was also expanding rapidly, as was the house building.
The New Clee area, which had been built to provide extra housing for the Grimsby overflow, became even more crowded and new building land was required. Consequently building started in 1986 on to Sidney Sussex College land, in and near Park Street, and spread rapidly in that area.
Thus, a new district was formed either side of Grimsby Road, which became known as New Cleethorpes. This house building was considerable and, in consequence, the town of Cleethorpes became divided into two sections. Soon, the New Cleethorpes area, was providing a third of the total rate income for the whole of Cleethorpes.
However, the local representative of Sidney Sussex College was not impressed with the way housing had been ‘thrown up’ in New Clee. Consequently in New Cleethorpes, more attention was paid to street planning and most houses on College land were leasehold. This enabled the college to lay down rules that forbade any erection for trade purposes of any building that may cause noise, smell or offense.
Businesses such as blacksmiths, pubs, abattoirs, fish curing, smoke houses or fried fish shops were forbidden and householders were informed that they should not :-
‘Harbour ,lodge or permit to dwell therein any lewd or disorderly person or persons, nor keep thereon any hogs, boars, sows, pigs or other offensive beasts or cattle, nor shall suffer anything that can be done on the premises …….. which shall or may grow to the annoyance , grievance, disturbance or damage of the Lessors or Lessees or tenants in the neighbourhood’
The College in time broke their own rules on public houses.
The division of the town into two section separated by a large stretch of undeveloped land running alongside Grimsby Road caused considerable problems.
One example would be the idea of paving the footpath along this section. Opponents argued that the paving along this unoccupied land would only benefit local residents and that the money could be better spent elsewhere. Those in favour, said it would bring more visitors into Cleethorpes and New Cleethorpes, which would be mutually beneficial.
In the end it was all done and in fact most of the town was completely paved by 1894.
This development also helped the College, which was acknowledged to be one of the poorest in Cambridge at the time. The ground rents which these, and other houses in the area which were built on College land, provided 29 % of the entire income received by the college in 1890. This increased in the next 10 years to 50% of its income.
Lady Frances Sidney, Countess of Sussex, who provided the original bequest to start the College in 1596 would have been pleased with the Cleethorpes venture had she known!
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