A.J. Walker



A Festival on the East Coast

DocksFest 2024

Originally I only got a ticket for DocksFest because I spotted it when I was looking for an opportunity to see Frank Turner again. So I was made up when I found this day in Cleethorpes—especially when I saw the Lottery Winners were playing the event too. Two of my favourite acts of the moment in one place. And an utter bargain to boot (£55) and Feeder and Razorlight too. Not too shabby.

Of course I couldn’t get there and back in a day so I ended up booking a room in a house in nearby Grimsby for two nights. My original aim was to have a day in Grimsby, the following day in Cleethorpes for the festival and then Hull on the Sunday. The best laid plans, eh?

Stagecoach buses were on strike in Liverpool for four days from the Friday which was unfortunate for me as that meant there were no direct buses to Liverpool city centre from my neck of the woods. But amazingly I ended up getting two Arriva buses into town and made it to Lime Street Station on time. I even had time to pick up a decent—and most required—large coffee. Job done.

The train left a few minutes late and it was pretty packed due to the previous Manchester train being cancelled. But I got a good seat with a table for the journey. The train takes all in 3.5 hours direct from Liverpool Lime Street to Cleethorpes (but I was to get off the stop before at Grimsby Town). There were several stops in a few places I’ve never heard of once I was in Lincolnshire. It’s lucky there is a direct train to Cleethorpes—even if I don’t quite understand why—and it is damn regular too (every hour).

Check in at my digs (which was just a room in a house in a housing estate in the southern part of Grimsby) was not accessible for “check-in” (in theory) until 4pm so I headed for a few pints in Docks Brewery, which is just to the north of the town centre. Ended up chatting to a few staff there, including Stu, Dan and Callum. All were good blokes who were very excited about the festival. People were coming and going between the brewery and the event space: the Meridian Showground—which was at the southern end of Cleethorpes, the next town along. They were all into music as well as beer and I managed to get a couple of new fans for the some Liverpool bands including the Heavy North and Casino: spreading the gospel. They had three cask lines on and plenty of keg. I was even shown the upstairs room which is basically a hall at the top of the converted church. Was a lovely space and had its own bar too. They have some pretty decent gigs coming up over the months ahead.

Docks Beers Brewery, Grimsby

Docks Academy, the venue space upstairs at the brewery

The house proved to be a modern three storey mews and it had a key box with a code entry to get the keys, and there was a code on the door lock for the room too. The only person in the bedroom accommodation in addition to me was a Polish construction guy who had lived there for over a year. Assume he’s negotiated a decent rate. I never met the people who owned the house (or checked in of course). On the Friday I ended up staying in and watching the footy on the TV by the kitchen. There was nowhere local to go to and I didn’t really need another couple of bus journeys. Besides, I was knackered.

I didn’t get to sleep particularly quickly as it happened, as my phone wouldn’t charge. Whilst I had a print out of the ticket for the festival the phone had my rail ticket on—and my Railcard. It took a lot of effort trying to clean the charging port to finally get it charging again. I was a bit panicky for a while thinking I’d have to go to a phone shop the next day (with no access to maps, bus information and the like).

Next day was a cold shower, as I couldn’t get the hot water going on it. As it happened the weather was atrocious and I ended up wetter waiting for the bus than I did in my limited visit to the cold shower. I headed up town to the Courtyard Cafe for a Full English to set me up for the day. The weather forecast was all over the place with some suggesting rain until 6pm with thunderstorms for several hours. Not ideal but would at least mean it would be dry for Frank Turner and Razorlight. But who believes in weather forecasts anyway. And lets face it thunderstorms are usually localised and therefore hard to predict. Perhaps we’d be lucky.

First up though I had been given the heads up on a few places to have a pint in Cleethorpes by the guys at Docks Brewery (and from my cousin who is from Cleethorpes) so I checked out the locations, on my thankfully functioning phone, and planned my route (they were along the front of the seaside resort). I walked up to the beach first to take a look and a couple of shots (photos, not drinks) as it would have been wrong not to. Historically of course John Prescott the Labour MP from Hull had suggested in an early incarnation of the Northern Powerhouse that Liverpool to Hull should almost be considered as a single city with Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester in the middle, so the Cleethorpes beach is just the very eastern side of Liverpool and is twinned (in all but fact) with Crosby beach. Probably.

The Old Vic, Cleethorpes

The Nottingham House, Cleethorpes

Willy's, Cleethorpes (note that it had finally stopped raining!)

The Old Vic at the top of the promenade had three casks on, and two were from Docks Brewery. So I had a pint of
Flypast by Docks. After a bit of a chinwag with the staff and much checking of the weather (both through Apps and the window) I headed down the front to Nottingham House. Had a pint of Oakham Citra there. Saw a group of lads in there heading to the festival and spoke to the barmaid. She was made up about the festival as there is not usually many options for people in the vicinity. Heaven knows where they normally have to travel to to get to watch a band or two—other than tribute acts.

Next up was a walk further along the front to Willy’s. Had a nice pint of
Lune Pale there before heading on to the bus stop for another bus to take me to the Meridian Showground. The last top before heading on into the festival was the ‘Smallest Pub in the World’ (I’ve not verified that) which was the Signal Box Inn. The weather though cloudy was breaking up. There were dark clouds and light ones and even patches of blue. Things were definitely looking hopeful. The outdoor area by the pub was packed. There were Frank Turner and Lottery Winners T-shirts everywhere. It felt like coming home. I ended up chatting with Lottery Winners fans in the main and a few Frank fans too of course (hell it’s a big club)—meeting people who travelled from Glasgow, Coventry, Bradford and Peterborough etc who’d just come to the town for the festival. Didn’t spot anyone wearing Feeder or Razorlight T’s but I dare say there were some there.

Signal Box Inn 'the smallest pub in the world' or certainly Cleethorpes

Signal Box

A pint of Docks Beers 'Demolition' outside the Signal Box (with the rain still staying away)

After two pints of
Demolition I headed into the site with my Winners T-shirt on. I had my little rucksack with me and after showing my ticket got through security pretty damn quickly. It wasn’t long before I was at the bar and with a pint of Docks ‘Clap, Clap Fish.’ Everything was working like clockwork. I bumped into—and bumped fists—with Stu from Docks who was looking pretty happy (hell, it was his birthday apparently). I caught the very end of Afflecks Palace in the dry, with an occasionally blue sky backdrop, before bumping into some Lottery Winners fans I’d chatted to at the Signal Box. There were Winners T-shirts everywhere as we headed in towards the stage. The rain seemed to be a memory.

The Lottery Winners, DocksFest 24

Lottery Winners, DocksFest 24
The chat was great as everyone was looking forward to seeing them and enthused about having seen them before at gig a) or b)—(or in the Coventry case—26 times! (If I remember rightly)). Some were looking forward to seeing them for the first time (hard to believe I know). Before too long Thom and the band came on—with Thom complaining he wasn’t feeling very well. He soon felt better as he wound the crowd up to give him massive cheers as if he was a superstar (he IS). The performance from the band, including the ill/not ill, Thom was fab and they got their fans going mad for it: and I dare say captured plenty of new fans too. People were dancing, singing, and raising their fists (to the now forgiving sky) in accompaniment to the band. I’ve been lucky enough to see them a few times and they are never less than full value for money—and proper uplifting. You can’t not smile at the gig (which explains Kate’s always smiling face).

Feeder were on next and it was time for another pint of
Clap, Clap Fish and a dewatering visit. The toilets, food, and the beer buying went very smoothly indeed for a festival.


I sat down near the sound tent with my pint and slightly tired legs. Feeder were soon up then. They opened up with the most familiar Buck Roger’s (“it’s got a CD player, player, player…”). Brave to start with that and not end with it. The sound throughout was good and the weather was behaving too. Walking around there were some isolated patches of surface water but there was no mud at all: amazing given the way the rain came down in the morning.

After Feeder it was time to get another pint in before putting on my Frank Turner T-shirt above the Winners one and then heading towards the stage. I chatted to some people who were trying to listen to the England match or watch it on their phone on iPlayer (sorry, it was Switzerland v England in the Euros QF). I got hit on my knee by a mobile phone as a rather ‘happy/unhappy’ guy celebrated (not) when Switzerland scored. He wasn’t throwing it at me, he’d just not caught it after tossing it in the air—like his phone; I’ll live.

Frank Turner (without the Sleeping Souls), DocksFest

Frank Turner getting the crowd singing, as ever.

Well Frank was quite frankly, Frank. Excellent and coolness personified. He was introduced to us—like all the acts—by the local lad Lloyd Griffith who informed us that England had beaten Switzerland on penalties (Trent had scored the winning penalty). Can’t say I was sorry to have missed the game. Watching live music in a field is preferable to watching England anywhere. As I say though Frank was bloody excellent. If you’ve not got on that train yet then it’s time to jump on board (and that goes for the Winners too (the Lottery ones, not the England ones).

It was a tough day on my knees and I had to make the unfortunate decision to miss Razorlight. I went (via one in the Signal Box) to get a bus. I thought a bus part way would be better than no bus at all. It was definitely the correct call as I struggled to walk and needed frequent rest breaks over the 2 miles or so I had to walk. I got home in one piece though.

On the Sunday I went to Grimsby by bus and got myself a nice breakfast and a very large coffee at Riverhead Coffee. I’d had to give up on the idea of going to Hull. In my head I thought Hull and Grimsby were very close together, but it’d be an hour and a half minimum each way, which wouldn’t have left much time for a mooch (in my head the distance between the two places was similar to Liverpool and Birkenhead. My head was wrong on this occasion.) In the end I just walked (slowly) to the Docks Brewery (there not being pub options in Grimsby other than a Wetherspoons) again. The place really is not vibrant enough for much of a music scene. So much kudos to my new buddies for giving them a permanent venue in Grimsby and the festival too in Cleethorpes. Wasn’t sure they’d be open after the Saturday exertions, but they were. Ended up meeting Stu and Dan again. Both were made up with the way it had gone and both were pretty knackered.

It was then time to return to Grimby Town station and head on back to Liverpool. The train was on time and got to Liverpool on time (thankfully, because the toilets were fooked). All in all it had been a top weekend. The Docks people had done mighty good stuff. And I’m glad my search for another Frank Turner gig had led me to this event. Roll on DocksFest 2025.

Oh and the buses were still on strike so it was another two bus journey to go the six miles to mine. Ho hum.