Grim & Havelock
The Heritage Project Grimsby and Lincolnshire is teaming up to restore the Grim and Havelock statue.
Many of us will remember the Grim and Havelock statue, standing proudly at Nuns Corner in Grimsby for 33 years, from 1973 to 2006. It represented the ancient heritage of our town, stretching back to the Vikings and Saxons.
We may also remember the times the statue was vandalised and damaged, ultimately resulting in it being removed and placed in storage, for its own protection.
Well, after almost 17 years in hiding, plans are afoot to mark the statue’s 50th anniversary by restoring and resurrecting this proud symbol of our town’s history and significance.
Two local businesses – The Equality Practice and Turntable Gallery – have joined forces under the name ‘The Heritage Project Grimsby & Lincolnshire’ to make this happen and have been awarded £100K by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to restore the emblematic effigy.
Grim and Havelock – a tale
The Equality Practice are champions of organisational, personal and professional development, while the Turntable Gallery is a contemporary art space in the heart of Grimsby. They see this project as a chance to not only reassert some civic pride in our town and its long heritage, but also as a chance to promote positivity around immigration and inclusion in our area.
Tracy Todd of The Equality Practice (and Project Manager for the Heritage Project) said: “The story of Grim and Havelock echoes through the ages and here, in 2023, it brilliantly demonstrates the value that difference can bring to a place.”
Alongside the restoration, the Heritage Project plans to tell the story of Grim, the noble Viking fisherman and Havelock (AKA Havelok, Haveloc and Aybloc), the young heir to the Danish throne.
Grim fled Denmark in order to protect the boy prince’s life and their arrival on these shores shaped the future of our town. It’s an epic story of international intrigue, murder plots, rebellion and conflict that deserves to be better known!
From Grimsby’s perspective: if these immigrants hadn’t arrived on our shores and decided to plant roots in the wilds or untamed Lincolnshire, our town would never have been born.
As Tracy Todd adds:
“Grimsby is a sum of its parts, a community of individuals operating together to form one beautiful whole. This is to be embraced. This is to be celebrated. Today, our town is marked out by new skills, talent and spirit that compliment old ways.”
Grim and Havelock – the greatest story never told
Dubbing this “The Greatest Story Never Told”, Jill Wilson, who is Communications Manager for the project (and Director of The Equality Practice), said: “We are so proud to be leading a unique team of local businesses and communities.
Together we can demonstrate that working together, embracing difference and valuing each other is a key to success. We are not always in charge of the change that is happening around us, but we are in charge of how we react to it.”
This Heritage Project will encourage fairness and Inclusion. It will build pride in the fact that Grimbarians are the descendants of Vikings, and that those migrants that have come since, are treading in great shoes of the first voyagers and adventurers.
Grim and Havelock statue, standing proudly at Nuns Corner in Grimsby
Many people fondly remember the imposing statue, erected in pride of place on the broad curve of Nuns Corner. Grim and Havelock stood their ground, withstanding the storm of both decades of bad weather and of youthful mischief. This latter resulted in the statue being dressed-up, at various times, in Grimsby Town FC colours and a pink toga. The statue was also daubed with paint and, on more than one occasion, had certain sensitive parts knocked off. But, Grim and Havelock remained steadfast and continued welcoming visitors to the town of Grimsby.
The statue was finally removed in 2006, because the pair had become a too-tempting target for local vandals, and so they have lain in a purgatory of storage.
Marking the statue’s 50th anniversary
Now, to mark their 50th anniversary, they are being given back to the people of Grimsby. To mark this momentous occasion, the statue will be unveiled at the Turntable Gallery in May, as a first step towards restoration and ultimate repatriation.
Here you can share your thoughts and memories of the statue, what it means to you as an old familiar friend, and or what it means as a statue that represents the greatest of stories of bravery, migration and resettling, the sharing of skills and entrepreneurial spirit. Your thoughts will be recorded and help build a story of the Pride that we together share for Grimsby.
Come share the artistic splendour of the statue and explore the positive impact of immigration and the benefits it has brought and continues to bring to Grimsby. This project is more than the rescue and restoration of statuary, it is the imparting of a broader message of inclusion, friendship, pride, aspiration and all of the myriad values which have sustained us as Grimbarians, via the archetype of the #TheOriginalGrimbarian.
The statue’s story
The fibreglass statue was sculpted by one of Britain’s most celebrated artists, Douglas Wain-Hobson. It was unveiled on 19 May, 1973 and was paid for by donations raised by art students at the then Grimsby College, who “gifted the statue to the people of Grimsby”.
The colourful history the statue experienced wasn’t the first time a Wain-Hobson statue had generated controversy. In 1953, the ICA prize-winning artist completed a sculpture for the lawn outside the St. James Hospital in Balham, London. When unveiled, the life-size male nude – without fig-leaf – so shocked the locals that petitions were raised and the statue’s modesty was covered in a green hospital gown and bandages.
This campaign, which is being documented by local videographer Sean Atkinson of Focus 7, will also be amplified by a dedicated website, digital content resources – created by local-to-global design and marketing agency, CMA. There will also be ongoing social media coverage and a story book for school children.
Jill Wilson, Communications Manager for the project and Director of The Equality Practice expressed gratitude to The National Lottery Heritage Fund, saying: “without them, this project would not be possible. We are utterly delighted to have won this award. It is the culmination of six years’ work with several different partners who have also all worked hard to bring this project to life.”
Helen Featherstone, Director of England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “This statue is hugely significant to local people and it is great to know that it will be restored and reinstated as a beacon of Grimsby’s rich Viking heritage for generations to come.
“We are delighted that thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we can support this project in Grimsby, an Area of Focus for the Heritage Fund. This project sets out to showcase the true community spirit of Grimsby and demonstrate why it is truly a town to be proud of.”
Would you like to know more?
If you’d like to know more about this project, or get involved by sharing your support, your memories or your expertise, then we’d love to hear from you.
We’re keen to hear your stories about the statue, your thoughts about its message of inclusiveness and your feelings about treading in the footsteps of Vikings, and how this can change the narrative on migration.
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