The Busiest Level Crossing in Britain

Senior Srivice Cigareete card from the 1930's

Senior Service cigarette card from the 1930’s

BTPHG member Derick Brown has drawn our attention to the level crossing at Grimsby Dock, which was reputed to be the busiest level crossing in England.

It was apparently policed and operated by railway police officers from the mid-1800’s until the 1960’s, initially by officers from the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, then the Great Central Railway, London and North Eastern Railway and latterly by BTC / BTP. Derick continues that the crossing can be seen in a film from the National Film Archive called ‘Net Result’ which is about the fishing trade at Grimsby.

The crossing was featured in an article in the Grimsby Telegraph:

“For nearly 100 years there was a gated level crossing adjacent to Grimsby Docks station that allowed road traffic and pedestrians to cross the many busy railway lines running to the docks and Cleethorpes.

By 1890 the crossing was causing major problems as road traffic increased down Cleethorpe Road. A survey was conducted and between 9am and 11pm the gates were closed to road traffic 86 times. Most of the fish landed at Grimsby by coal-burning trawlers was moved by rail, as was the coal that fuelled the trawlers.

Complaints were made at a council meeting and by the 1930s it featured on a Senior Service cigarette as the “busiest level crossing in Britain” with a policeman controlling traffic in the middle of the crossing.

By 1963 all coal-burning trawlers had been scrapped and in 1964 all fish trains stopped. In 1965, plans for a bridge or flyover were approved by the Ministry of Transport with work starting on July 3, 1967, by A Monk & Co Ltd. Unfortunately by then all the fish and coal trains had stopped.

When completed, the flyover was 1,070ft long and 70ft wide and many landmarks such as the Royal Hotel and the Railway Hotel were eventually demolished. Today, just a solitary railway line passes under the flyover.”

The above cigarette card featured the following on the reverse:

“Point Duty – There can be very few traffic crossings in England where the policeman on point duty finds railway trains included in his regular traffic. This photograph shows the level crossing at Grimsby Docks Station which crosses Cleethorpe Road. This is said to be the busiest level crossing in England and nearly 40 trains pass every hour during the day. Owing to the great dislocation of traffic the question of providing a bridge is now being discussed.”

The Cleethorpe Road crossing in 1960.

The Cleethorpe Road crossing in 1960.

Sources include:
Grimsby Telegraph