A Brief History of this Ward
In the 1800s there were hardly any houses in the fields where the Yarb Ward now is. And the area was not even part of Grimsby – it was part of the neighbouring parish of Little Coates.
A long forgotten waterway called Piper Creek formed the boundary between Grimsby and Little Coates. You can still just about tell where Laceby Road crosses the Creek when the road dips and turns east of Barry Avenue. The Creek ran from there and flowed into the Humber at Pyewipe. It still runs in a culvert under Marklew Avenue and then alongside Boulevard Avenue.
Both Little Coates parish and Scartho parish were only finally incorporated into Grimsby when the Borough’s boundaries were extended in the 1920s. The Yarb Ward covers the south-western half of the medieval parish. The Grange estate and the old Little Coates area (between New Haven Terrace and what was Dixon’s Paper Mill) occupy the northern and eastern parts of the medieval parish, but these areas are not part of the Yarb Ward.
The largest house from the 1800s is the only one which survives today. It was the only Farmhouse, and it is now the main building of the Golf Club. The church is the only other building which survives, but most of the St Michael’s you see today was actually grafted onto the small ancient iron stone church in 1913-15.
In about 1880 there were just ten other houses. They were mainly agricultural cottages. Of the sixty people who lived in them, two thirds of had been born within ten miles and only one (an Irish labourer) had been born outside Lincolnshire.
Two cottages were at the Grimsby Waterworks. This is where water from the chalk beneath had welled up naturally for centuries, and the land (where the present Water Tower is) is still owned by Anglian Water. Two Engine Drivers lived in the cottages with their families. They ran a steam engine which pumped the water to a reservoir at Scartho.
The parish formed one estate and passed through several hands including those of Lord Yarb in the 1700s. It was eventually bought in the 1800s by Sir Walter Gilbey, a wine merchant from Elsenham Hall in Essex; Gilbey’s Gin is still well know today.
Gilbey’s family had Toot Hill dug up at the beginning of the 1900s. Its peak was fifty feet high just behind the present Trawl Car Park. Its sand was carted away to provide material for housing being built at the northern end of the parish (all the street names around Gilbey Road and Elsenham Road give away the connection). In the process we lost most of the evidence for Bronze Age burials in the hill from about 3000 years ago.
The family sold their estate in a big auction in 1927 and most of the boundaries in the Yarb Ward today follow exactly the shape of the plots from that auction as building went up on them gradually over the following fifty years.
Some of the first of this land to be developed were building plots south of Laceby Road. The shops facing Laceby Road and the houses facing Bradley Road occupy the land sold as Lots 1 and 2. The Ridgeway occupies the land sold as Lots 3, 4 and 5. Ellesmere Rise fills Lot 6 and Hilltop Place Lot 7. Some of the most recent land to be built upon was a small holding of three large fields which was sold as Lot 8: this is Laceby Acres today. These developments were each built right up to the new Borough boundary which was edge of the old parish so you can see clearly the southern and western boundaries where the building (and the Ward) stops.
And, of course, the story continues. In 2010 new play equipment has been installed on the Capes Recreation Ground (sold in 1927 as Lots 12-15 ‘a prettily timbered building site’ which was never actually developed but given to the community instead). At the same time the Yarb Estate (the arable field sold as Lot 39, developed as an estate named after Lord Yarb who had owned the land many years earlier) is being totally redeveloped as Freshney Green.
Canon Peter Mullins