Immingham in the 1900s
and during War Time
The remote, scattered farms and narrow lanes where cattle grazed the roadside, were administered by the newly organised Parish Council (1894). This reformed the way things were done. Before that they had Annual Vestry Meetings organised and chaired by the vicar, who lived in Habrough. Such things as the Local Constable, the Overseer for the Poor, Mole Catcher and Dyke Reve were of high interest!
The nearest pubs were at Stallingborough or by Habrough Station. Lighting was with paraffin lamps and most vegetables were home grown. There was a post office but no shop, although travelling traders and local carriers could get you the essentials. Cattle were walked to Grimsby market or Brigg. Horse and carriages were common, but ordinary people still walked or cycled everywhere. You could get the train at Habrough Station for Grimsby to buy baskets, pottery and fabrics. The ironmonger sold tools, paraffin and candles.
There was still a weekly market boat to Hull from Stallingborough where you could take stuff to Hull market to sell or buy.
Country living was basic and hard, but you could always find work on Grimsby docks. With the building of Immingham Docks, a completely new community arrived to live in temporary tin huts, located near the work towards the river side. It was a massive undertaking, but it took a very long time before the newcomers became integrated with the existing community. They also improved the roads, and a tram line was built to Grimsby following the coast. Because of the new dock power station, electricity came early to the village. The first pub, The County Hotel, opened in 1910. By then the whole place had become an almost unrecognisable building site.
During the First World War and Second World War, Immingham Docks was used as a base for submarines and ships. Additional structures were built around the docks for this new use and included an anchorage site, observation position and air raid shelter. There was also an anti-aircraft battery in the town, manned with 1 pounder and later a 12-pounder gun.
Immingham was set up before the First World War as a Balloon Station by the Royal Naval Air Service. Tethered kite balloons were trailed from convoy escort ships, taking observers aloft in a wicker basket to around 3000 ft to watch for sea mines, torpedo tracks and submarines.
In addition to the primary ballooning role, some aircraft were based here, such as the 154 DFW Military Arrow Biplane. Limited numbers of airship operations were also conducted from Immingham during the war. On 1 Apr 1918 the Royal Air Force assumed command and was known as Number 8 Balloon Station until its closure. [source: http://www.raf-lincolnshire.info/immingham/immingham.htm]
During the Second World War, Wing Commander John Dowland and Flight Lieutenant, Leonard Harrison, who were based at RAF Manby, played vital roles in high profile bomb disposal incidents.
They were both one of the first in the country to be awarded the George Cross for their involvement in disarming an unexploded 250kg bomb which hit the grain ship SS Kildare in February 1940 in Immingham Dock. They went on to repeat the feat, disarming another bomb aboard a ship in Grimsby.