A Brief History of the West Marsh

The West Marsh was originally part of an area of salt marsh granted to the borough in 1341 by Edward II. Around 1514 the Freeman, in their role as the corporation, divided the West Marsh into plots leased out for grazing. It should be noted that prior to the enclosures of 1827-40, the ancient
open-field system of farming also included land named The Haycroft, Little Field and The Cow Close. Much of this forms part of today’s West Marsh local government ward.

In 1872 the first Corporation Bridge opened, along with the footbridge across the railway to Newmarket Street. This gave direct access to Freeman Street Market for West Marsh residents.

The following year the corporation began selling building plots on a 99 year lease. By 1883 they had an estate of 764 leasehold properties.

Permission was granted to lease land to public bodies at nominal rents. This lead to the construction of a new General Hospital near to the River Freshney, opened by Countess Yarborough on 22nd May 1877 at a cost of £4,000. Three years later South Parade Board School opened, the same year as a National School in Macaulay Street.

A Wesleyan Chapel opened at South Parade in 1881, while Lord Street Mission dates from 1892. St. Paul’s opened in 1908, while St.Hugh’s Church was officially blessed by the Bishop of Lincoln in October 1911: a mission church had preceded it.

The Duke of York Gardens was formerly opened on 13th September 1894: it gets its name from the fact that work had commenced the previous year on the Duke of York’s wedding day. 1912 saw a tramway operating from a terminus near Corporation Bridge to Immingham (this lasted until 1961), while 1913 saw the start of the Cow Close development, identified by streets bearing Christian names (e.g. Richard Street). The first council house to be occupied was in Armstrong Street on 3rd January 1921, with the new Corporation Bridge opened by the Prince of Wales in 1928.

A large-scale housing development was carried out from the 1950s, with many West Marsh houses demolished. Other housing, along with the Bull Ring, disappeared to make way for town centre development. The first shops of what became Riverhead Centre opened in 1969, to be recreated as
Freshney Place (1990\1).

South Parade joined with Lord Street Chapel to become Haven Methodists, a new building opening on the Lord Street site in 1970. Both South Parade and Flottergate chapels were pulled down. The General Hospital was superseded in 1983 by that which is now Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital along Scartho Road.

Recent years have seen the development of the West Marsh Community Centre, the refurbishment of both halls at St.Hugh’s Church (one being leased to the Macaulay Area Action Group) and new play equipment added to the Duke of York Gardens, now supported by the Friends of the Freshney.

Tim Mickleburgh