ABP knew we were looking for a new workspace and invited us to the dock to take a look at the Kasbah and its buildings. As an arts in health charitable organisation, well known for our community projects, they said that we were just the sort of group that would be ideal for the Kasbah and kindly drove us around the area to show us the buildings available.
At the time we had the option of choosing any building but with our limited budget of just £5k for renovations, we asked ABP for a building that would be suitable for our needs and that was structurally sound. To be honest, many of us have hands-on experience of restorations and we are the sort of people who can see past the dereliction and recognise the potential, so we weren’t fazed, but knew there would be a lot of work involved and that we would need to be fully committed to the initiative.
The building we were offered was the former office of Kurt Christensen, retired entrepreneur and Danish consul for the South Humber and Yorkshire. Kurt shared with us some of his experience at the building and its history. Kurt was very supportive to us and very kindly donated furniture – a great help given our budget!
The building is full of character, with four front doors and almost all of its original features. It has a strong room with safes that are probably 100-years-old and was once the building from which the fishermen’s wages were paid. We understand it may have been a sail loft at one time of day, too!
We were encouraged to apply for a heritage grant for the exterior of the building, with it being in a conservation zone, and have been given support with that from the Kasbah Steering Group. We particularly like that it is a working dock and the gate is staffed 24-hours a day – it makes us feel secure.
The place took a bit of cleaning out but we sorted that and got the electrics fixed, then we set about renovating each room with a theme, such as the Great Escape Room with copper, concrete and rusty metal bespoke plastering, the Escape Artist Houdini themed art studio and the Viking themed kitchen. We hope that one day we can lease the rooms for presentations, exhibition space and training courses.
We would never have been able to work on an initiative like this without our team of committed volunteers and our funders. During our time at ‘The Great Escape’ we have received so much support, including donations from local people. On one occasion a wagon driver donated us a collection of Grimsby Trawler paintings. We are very grateful to our funders which include Orsted, The Crime Reduction fund, The Havelok Rotary Club and Co-op.
The purpose behind ‘The Great Escape’ – so named because that is what it feels like to us – is to create a place for local people to have access to the tools, space and mentoring to set up their own art and community projects, whether that is welding, metal work, joinery or creative sculptures, for example. It is about sharing, building self esteem and giving people opportunity. Our purpose is to instil pride in our clients, which in a way complements the ethos of the Kasbah project, which is to inject some pride back into the community and revive interest in a truly important piece of Grimsby history.
We love being by the dockside as it is like another world; it is the heart of Grimsby town and it’s industrial heritage. I think everyone should be down here!
For more about Creative Start CIC please visit www.creativestartcic.org