Plans to bulldoze historic smokehouse contested

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman will be asked to decide whether to allow one of the last of Hull’s old smokehouses to be bulldozed.

City councillors have backed plans to demolish Gilchrists Smoke House, at 7 Subway Street, once part of a thriving trade of smoking fish.

Built around 1890, it contained nine kilns which were once used to smoke lines of prepared herring and haddock.

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Surrounded now by modern buildings, its steeply sloping roof is a reminder of a once common feature of the city’s skyline.

Owner AE Purdy Ltd who bought the grade two listed building in 2005, two years after it was badly damaged in a fire, want to build a modern fish processing building in its place.

Councillors at a planning committee meeting accepted it was beyond repair. However the Council for British Archaeology and the Association for Industrial Archaeology have objected to the loss of a “rare survivor”. Because of the CBA’s objection the decision will have to be ratified by the National Planning Casework Unit in Birmingham.

The application could be called in for a public inquiry as has happened recently with the National Picture Theatre on Beverley Road, which its owners want to convert into flats. Councillors backed proposals for the smokehouse’s demolition back in 2007, which were approved by the Government Office.

English Heritage did not object then, and nor has it this time.

Although fish continues to be smoked by several local firms, none of the old smokehouses are working now.