A Brief History of this Ward
The people who live in the Freshney Ward today live in what was the mediaeval Parish of Great Coates.
Even a hundred years ago, a traveller riding north-west would leave the Borough of Grimsby as he crossed an old creek which ran from about Barry Avenue to Pyewipe. He would then be travelling across the Parish of Little Coates until he used one of the small bridges over the Freshney to enter the Parish of Great Coates. Now he would be crossing fields in the Parish of Great Coates (where the Willows, Wybers Wood and Aylesby Park were to be built) before passing through Great Coates village itself. He would then again be crossing Great Coates fields (where the feeder roads fo the A180 and Europarc were to be built) until he went over Oldfleet Drain to enter the parish of Healing.
It was only in the 1970s that the Borough of Grimsby (whose boundary had been extended in the 1920s to take in the Civil Parish of Little Coates) was extended to include the Civil Parish of Great Coates. A generation later, most of this is North East Lincolnshire’s Freshney Ward today.
In pre-history, the earliest know settlement in North East Lincolnshire was in the Freshney Ward, at a Mesolithic camp on the Humber bank. Later, Celtic tribes and Roman farmers would have crossed the marsh where Great Coates was later to grow. Then early English settlers used their word ‘Coates’ to indicate some tiny settlement or sheepfolds in the area – long before Danish settlers would name a near by port as ‘Grim’s by’.
In mediaeval times, the only land on which it was really safe to build was where Great Coates’ church and village are today. The rest of what is now the Ward was boggy and suffered the periodic invasion of the Humber.
Along the estuary, the whole area as far as the present railway line only became useable farm land when it was crisscrossed with dykes and drains. Along the Freshney, those who live closest to the river were flooded again as recently as 2007.
Remarkably, between them only two families owned the land for over six hundred years. Parts of the moat of the Barnardistons’ mediaeval Manor House can be traced around the Grange and the churchyard today. They kept it until they ended up on the wrong side in the Civil War in the seventeenth century when the Sutton family acquired it in their place. Sutton Estates still owns parts of the Ward today.
But almost everything in the fields and village has changed in less than fifty years.
In the 1960s Grimsby Borough needed to clear the terraced housing on its West Marsh which was in danger of deteriorating into a slum. It developed the Willows estate (then just outside the Borough boundary) and many of the first residents came from the West Marsh. Houses, churches, pub, schools and shop were built in late 1960s and through the 1970s.
Very quickly private developers built on the other side of Great Coates Road. Wybers Wood (named after a near by Wood and Farm in the neighbouring Parish of Aylesby) was also given a Primary School and shops, but the Community Centre which helped form the local community has since closed. The later Aylesby Park development completed the housing without adding any new facilities.
Even in Great Coates village itself a significant proportion of the population live in houses built in the last few years. Here, the ancient Parish Church (serving a wider area) and the Victorian School (now a Nursery and Infant School) remain open, but other facilities (including a biscuit factory, hall, Methodist Church and Post Office) have closed. Recently a new Civil Parish has been established for the village (thus covering a much smaller area than the original Civil Parish), and its Village Council has a project in hand to build a new Village Hall.
Meanwhile, along the Humber Bank there has been continuous growth of chemical plants and industry since the Second World War.