Rescue & Reclamation

  • May 10, 2023 3:37 pm
  • By Richard Hatfield

Local people and visitors to the town enjoyed our most recent guided walk exploring the history of industry along Barton Haven.  The reclamation of land abandoned by two of these industries is followed up at our next public lecture on the 16th June.

The Civic Society has always taken an interest in projects which attempt to improve the look of the town and its open spaces especially when the natural environment and wildlife benefit.

Two such projects, undertaken by other bodies, included the Barton Claypits and the Water’s Edge site. These ambitious reclamation schemes rescued landscapes scarred by industries of the past. The Civic Society supported these schemes and monitored their progress as they unfolded, especially as both considerably enhanced the amenity value of the town.

Waters’ Edge Country Park was created form reclaimed industrial land. In 1872 the Lincolnshire Farmers’ Company chemical works produced chemical fertilisers and acids on land to the east of the Haven. Production at what had become BritAg, a subsidiary of ICI, ceased in 1988. Unfortunately the chemicals had severely contaminated the site.

North Lincolnshire Council inherited the site from Glanford Borough Council in 1996 and work soon began to reclaim the land. The contaminated soil was stripped back and moved off site to be buried in a secure site. The ponds were excavated and local topsoil from the nearby Far Ings Nature Reserve was brought in. Thousands of reeds and trees were planted. The first part of the country park opened to the public in 2003.

Design of the building included incorporated several “green” credentials:

  • no plaster was used – girders were left exposed, block-work walls were simply painted and recycled cardboard laminate was used to construct the interior partition walls
  • recycled girders were used (still, though, with the strength of new girders!).  Much of the steel structure, in fact, was third recycled 
  • some walls were made from recycled polythene 
  • the roof was made using recycled aluminium 
  • the building was positioned on a bed of recycled concrete
  • recycled yoghurt pots and CDs were used to fabricate the displays which also incorporated plywood (instead of MDF) as this uses less resin
  • ‘coconut matting’ was used for the barrier matting  – coir is made from the husk of coconuts 
  • office floors were made with oak from sustainable forests
The ACC (BritAg) Chemical Works site on the east bank of the Haven in the 1960s.

The Tourist Information Centre and Visitor Centre at Waters’ Edge which also includes business and office accommodation (


The Waters’ Edge site forms part of the Barton & Barrow Claypits Heritage Trail launched by the Humber Nature Partnership (

The original Glanford Borough Council Claypits Project was founded in the mid-1980s with the aim of improving and enhancing the area of the former brick and tile making pits for recreation and conservation in co-operation with the landowners and other interested parties, including the Civic Society.  The role was subsequently taken on by North Lincolnshire Council, and today are managed by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust (

The extensive workings form the largest area of freshwater marsh in the region.  Their varying depths created a mixture of dense reed beds and open water bordered by scrub woodland and grassland, all of which supports a rich and oversee variety of wildlife.  Because of their high importance almost all the pits are scheduled as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

The Barton Clay Pits, spanning the South Humber Bank either side of the Humber Bridge, were once the centre of a thriving brick and tile industry but are now a haven for conservation and wildlife. 
The Old Tile Works combines a working tile-making yard, restaurant and garden centre.

Rescue & Reclamation with Stuart Garfoot and Simon Wellockis on 16 June at Wilderspin in the Joseph Wright Hall, starting at 7.30pm.  Non-members’ admission is £4 but we’d highly recommend joining the Society for only £10pa which covers a range of other benefits and lends your support to the work of our volunteers.  You can join on the night or visit

Our next Victorian Walk is Saturday 1 July starting at the Wilderspin School Museum at 10am, and last about ninety minutes. 

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