Strong railway theme included as festival celebrates Lowestoft's heritage

Published on: Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Last updated: Tuesday, 10 September 2019

  • Days Out

Friday, September 13 sees the return of Lowestoft’s hugely popular Heritage Open Days Festival with an incredible array of over 85 completely free events scheduled over the following ten days. This year the festival boasts activities highlighting a huge mix of the towns architectural, cultural, industrial, maritime and wartime life including factories, exhibitions, bus rides, theatre tours, music and talks with something for all ages and interests.

Organisers are hoping to build upon the enormous success of the 2018 festival wherein the town hosted more events than any town in Suffolk with an estimated 10,000 people participating. This year the event has some 85 free activities available, placing it within the top ten of more than 800 towns & cities taking part nationally.

The importance of the Railway to the town of Lowestoft is a key theme within the Festival and over two weekends, Network Rail and the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership are hosting tours of Lowestoft Signal Box, which has overseen rail movements in and out of the town for over 100 years. The mechanically operated box and semaphore signals are due to be replaced in early 2020 (Please note all tours of the Signal Box are now full).

Continuing the railway theme, the newly restored public exhibition space created in the former Parcels Office at Lowestoft Railway Station will host the festival box office and information hub throughout the event and has a full afternoon of free talks on September 14 including one by BBC Televisions “Flog it” presenter, Elizabeth Talbot.

From September 15 – 22 the Parcels Office will host a return of its hugely popular Departures Exhibition featuring over 70 images of the local railway scene taken over the past five decades by acclaimed Norwich based photographer, David Pearce.

The Victorian entrepreneur who first brought the railway to Lowestoft is celebrated in an exhibition running at the Town Hall on Sat 14 and Sun 15 daily between 10 and 4. Sir Samuel Morton Peto was born in 1809 he was a Contractor, Politician and Philanthropist, with his work taking him to many other parts of the world as well as Lowestoft.

Produced by Lowestoft Civic Society, the display covers several subjects – Peto, the Politician, Philanthropist, his connections to Lowestoft and Somerleyton, his Railway Contracts in the UK and Canada and his local and national building works. Other areas covered include his partnerships with Grissell, Betts and the Lucas Brothers and his work with Denmark, The Great Exhibition and the Crimean War.

On Sat 14 & Sun15, daily from 10.30 to 4 at the pavilion opposite Lowestoft Museum in Nicholas Everitt Park, a working model of Oulton Broad North Station as it would have looked in the 1950's and 60's will be on display.

On Saturday 14 September, there is a chance to take nostalgic trips back in time on board an historic Lowestoft Corporation bus, as along with other vintage vehicles from their collection, the East Anglia Transport Museum will be running a half-hourly FREE bus service around the town, connecting with the Railway Station, Town Centre, Seafront, Pakefield, Oulton Broad and the Museum – hop on and off as often as you like.

The town’s maritime heritage will be celebrated at various locations including Heritage Quay with Mincarlo, a sidewinder fishing trawler and Excelsior, one of the last Lowestoft built sailing trawlers open for tours over the festival. Visitors can also explore the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club at Royal Plain or the International Boatbuilding Training College on the northern shore of Lake Lothing. Lowestoft Museum, located within Nicholas Everitt Park in Oulton Broad will be hosting a number of free activities.

The long-awaited publication of The Grit by Dean Parkin and Jack Rose, out of print for nearly 20 years and recently revised, will be launched during the festival and Dean will curate a special Grit Exhibition, present slideshows sharing extracts and rare photos, and sign copies of the book at Christ Church on 21 September. Easterly Artists group have a pop-up exhibition at 161-165 London Road North on this year’s national HODs theme - People Power.

Port House on North Quay will host a number of activities and exhibitions throughout the festival and will be open daily with the biggest Old Lowestoft picture exhibition ever staged by Bert Collyer. At the southern end of the festival, the former Pakefield Lighthouse in the grounds of Pontins will be open too.

In North Lowestoft, the Town Hall will be open with stalls from local groups and tours of the building. Many properties along the High Street will open their doors to the public including the former chemist shop and for the first time, 30 High Street, previously home of Admiral Sir Thomas Allin. There are also events relating to the recently created Heritage Action Zone and The Ness project with a children’s art workshop on Sat 21 and a series of talks on Sun 22 taking place at clothing company, Blackshore in Whapload Road. Information on Lowestoft Scores will be exhibited at Flint House with pre-booked walking tours led by local historian Ivan Bunn.

Backstage tours and free workshops are taking place at the Marina Theatre with tours also available at the former Sailors and Fisherman’s’ Bethel, now home to local amateur dramatics group, the Lowestoft Players. Top of the Tower tours will take place at Our Lady Star of Sea Church in Gordon Road affording some great views over the town and throughout the festival various historic buildings will be hosting free musical events and concerts.

Chair of Lowestoft HODS, Paul King said, “Once again this year’s event has grown more than we could ever have imagined with both new and rare opportunities to explore Lowestoft’s illustrious history. We are grateful to the numerous organisations and individuals that are making our 2019 event so special and look forward to welcoming both residents and visitors to the festival.”

Advanced booking is required for some events during the festival and with a rare chance to tour Winsor & Newton - (Crown Artist Brush) factory in Crown Street already full and other activities near capacity, those wishing to take part are advised to check online or call in at the Lowestoft Heritage Open Days box office and Information hub which will be located throughout the Festival in the former Parcels Office at the towns Railway Station.

Over 7000 printed guides to the festival have so far been distributed and all events are available to see online at Organisers aim to provide up to date information on Facebook: heritageopendayslowestoft and twitter: @lowestoftHODS