Humberside Fire and Rescue were called to the popular Bensley’s homemade ice cream parlour early on the 22nd of October with reports that the train carriage that dates to 1890 had been damaged in a supposed electrical fire. 


After safely selling ice cream in the area for years, owners Mark and Sarah Bensley, were shocked by the revelation that the fire looked to have been caused by arson. While the shell of the historic carriage remains intact, the internals suffered extensive fire damage, hindering the sale of ice creams in this location for the foreseeable future. 


The ice cream parlour served as a popular destination at Waltham Windmill, attracting visitors all year, a crucial part of the collection of local businesses on the site. 


Vanessa, owner of Bliss Wax Shop, called the attack and the arsonist’s intentions “worrying”, citing the rail carriage as a cherished eatery in a “beautiful” location. “They have gorgeous ice creams and cakes! . . . it’s a shame to see them go, they’re such a good business.”. 


Waltham may be the safest ward in North East Lincolnshire (with only 299 recorded crimes, a rise from 266 in 2021) but the village’s proximity to the most dangerous major town in Lincolnshire, Grimsby, suggests the rising crime rates are directly influencing the safety of shop owners. 

The crime rate per 1000 people for criminal damage and arson in Grimsby remains over 2 ½ times the national rate, with the figure rising to 21 in 2022, compared to the 8.29 nationally. 


This arson rate cannot be discussed without mentioning Grimsby’s poverty crisis, with 35% of all children living in poverty compared to 29% nationally. The climbing rates of deprivation in Grimsby only add to the mounting pressure on children’s services and schemes that can help prevent the more likely turn to crime and arson. 


Vanessa added that Bensley’s “brought a lot of people up here in the winter season”, when the windmill typically has less visitors. Extending her worries over the coming winter is the cost-of-living crisis, which she states is “bad for businesses in general”, and with small businesses in the North East at most risk of price inflation, with 65% saying they were forced to raise prices, it’s no shock that this act of arson has put fear into the shop owners at Waltham Windmill. 


Not just fear of another attack, but fear of revenue loss; a combination of price inflation and the low-customer winter season that will be exacerbated by the loss of Bensley’s home-made ice cream. 


In wake of the attack, a GoFundMe page has been set up to assist the owners of Bensley’s in restoring the interior of the train carriage and returning their business to the beloved site.