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Lowestoft

[lohs-tawft, -toft, -tuhf]
Lowestoft is a town in Suffolk, East Anglia, England, lying between the eastern edge of The Broads National Park at Oulton Broad and the North Sea.

Lowestoft Ness, located adjacent to Gas Works Road and an abandoned industrial site, is the most easterly point of the United Kingdom and of the British Isles.

Lowestoft is twinned with the French town of Plaisir and was twinned with Katwijk in the Netherlands until that relationship ended in the 1990s.

Geography

The town is divided in two by Lake Lothing, with both North (NR32 postcode) and South (NR33 postcode) sides of the lake containing residential and business sectors. The main shopping areas lie just north of the divide, while the popular sandy beach is to the south. Just to the north of the beach is a large working harbour.

The town is home to two piers, situated on the south beach. The southernly pier is called the Claremont Pier, and just over half a mile (1 km) to the north of that is the South Pier (so called because it is placed on the south side of the harbour). These piers are home to shops and arcades, and are somewhat popular tourist attractions.

The seaward boundary of the harbour is a strip of land known as the Old Extension, which is used as a development yard for North Sea oil companies.

Lowestoft railway station is centrally placed within the town, as well as also being within walking distance of the beach, providing services to Norwich along the Wherry Line and Ipswich on the East Suffolk Line. Some services also continue on through to London Liverpool Street along the main line from Ipswich. All services are operated by National Express East Anglia.

History

The name is said to come from toft (a Viking word for "homestead"') and Loth or Lowe (a Viking male name). The town's name has been spelled variously: Lothnwistoft, Lestoffe, Laistoe, Loystoft, Laystoft. In the Domesday Book, Lowestoft is described as a small agricultural village of 20 families, or about 100 people. Rent for the land was paid to the landowner Hugh de Montfort in herrings.

In the Middle Ages, Lowestoft developed into a fishing port. Great Yarmouth saw Lowestoft as a rival and tried to push it out of the herring trade. Yarmouth later backed out of fishing trade, but the rivalry between the towns didn't completely go away. In the English Civil War (1642 - 1651) Yarmouth took the side of Parliament and Lowestoft took the Royalist side, possibly so that they wouldn't need to co-operate. However, this was not taken very seriously, as Lowestoft's defences consisted of a rope across the High Street and a single, unmanned, unloaded cannon.

In 1662 two old women, Rose Cullender and Amy Denny, living in Lowestoft were accused of witchcraft by their neighbours. They were tried at the Assize held in Bury St. Edmunds by one of England's most eminent judges Sir Matthew Hale. The jury found them guilty on thirteen charges of using malevolent witchcraft and the judge sentenced them to death. They were hanged at Bury St. Edmunds on 17th March 1662.

In the 1665, the first battle of the Second Dutch War was the Battle of Lowestoft of the coast of the town.

During the 1790s, Lowestoft's fishing community established their own "Beach Village", living in upturned boats.

In the 19th century, the arrival of Sir Samuel Morton Peto brought about a huge change in Lowestoft's fortunes. Peto started by building a rail link between Lowestoft and Norwich, and links with other towns soon followed. He developed the harbour and provided mooring for 1,000 boats. This gave a boost to trade with the Continent. He also established Lowestoft as a flourishing seaside holiday resort.There is a road named after him in Lowestoft called Peto Way.

In World War I Lowestoft was bombarded by the German Navy on 24 April 1916.

During the Second World War the town was used as a navigation point by German bombers. As a result it was the most heavily bombed town per head of population in the UK. Old mines and bombs are still dredged up and have been hazardous to shipping.

Lowestoft has been subject to periodic flooding, the most memorable was in January 1953 when a North Sea swell driven by low pressure and a high tide swept away many of the older sea defences and deluged most of the southern town.

Until the mid 1960s fishing was Lowestoft's main industry. Fleets comprised drifters and trawlers, with the drifters primarily targeting herring while the trawlers caught cod, plaice, skate and haddock, etc. By the mid 1960s the catches were greatly diminishing, particularly the herring. Consequently the drifter fleet disappeared and many of the trawlers were adapted to work as service ships for the newly created North Sea oil rigs. A large fisheries research centre which is a part of Defra is still located in south Lowestoft, this is due to be relocated together with new offices for Waveney District Council in an area presently occupied by eight businesses.

The Eastern Coach Works was another big employer and in the 1960s it was a regular occurrence to see a bare bus chassis being driven through the town to the coach works by a goggled driver. Installing the bus's superstructure, body work and seats was the job of Eastern Coach Works. Both double deck and single deck buses were built there and sent all over the country.

Brooke Marine and Richards shipbuilding companies who together employed over a thousand men also went out of business at about the same time. In order to carry on the skills and traditions of the threatened shipbuilding trade, the International Boatbuilding Training College was formed in 1975, and has been largely successful at producing graduates who carry on the legacy of Lowestoft shipwrights.

From the late 1960s to the late 1990s, the oil and gas industry provided significant employment in the Lowestoft area. For many years the Shell Southern Operations base on the north shore of Lake Lothing was one of the town's largest employers. A decision to close the Shell base was finally made in 2003.

Lowestoft porcelain

During the second half of the 18th century, a factory in Crown Street produced soft-paste porcelain ware. Items still exist, and there are collections at the museum in Nicholas Everett Park, Oulton Broad, and at the Castle Museum, Norwich. The factory produced experimental wares in 1756 and first advertised their porcelain in 1760.

Lowestoft collectors divide the factory's products into three distinct periods, Early Lowestoft circa 1756 to 1761, Middle-Period circa 1761 to 1768 and Late-Period circa 1768 to the closure of the factory in 1799.

During the early period wares decorated with Chinese-inspired scenes (Chinoiserie) in underglaze blue were produced. This type of decoration continued throughout the life of the factory but scenes were gradually simplified. Overglaze colours were used from about 1765.

Lowestoft Air Festival

For two days each year, Lowestoft South Beach plays host to the Seafront Air Festival. Since its first opening in 1996, the event has gained much popularity and media attention. Despite being a free event, the festival earns a lot of money for the town, from companies which advertise and sponsor the event. The main attraction tends to be the Red Arrows, but there are many different performing aircraft in the event.

Its 10th anniversary was its most successful year, attracting around 420,000.[citation needed]. 1 2

One of the most infamous events in the show's history is the Harrier crash in 2002. An RAF board of inquiry later established that the pilot Flight Lieutenant Cann had accidentally operated the controls for throttle and nozzle direction lever at the same time causing it to drop sharply. Cann ejected as the aircraft dropped, via the ejector seat to rise safely above the crashed plane. He then descended safely by parachute until he struck the sinking plane and fractured his ankle. People in the sea were swiftly evacuated, and the RAF's SAR Sea King helicopter was quickly on hand to take the pilot from the sea and fly him to a local hospital. The recovery of the aircraft was watched by hundreds as it was winched out of the North Sea several days later.

Future performances were thought to be under threat with the cessation of the main sponsorship by the Birds Eye frozen food company, but the show is administratively underwritten by the local District Council until 2010, and new main sponsors are currently being sought by the management committee. In 2006 only £62,000 was raised in donations from the estimated 420,000 spectators, but in 2007 donations of £59,000 from the reduced crowd of 270,000 (due to poor weather on the first day) is considered a positive step towards the future of the show, as is the new link forged with the Honda Powerboat Grand Prix which was held on the two days following the air show.

The 2008 Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival has been confirmed and plans are already underway for a bigger and better event than ever, in the Royal Air Force's 90th Anniversary year.

Wind turbine

A large wind turbine, built in December 2004, is located by the sea on the edge of town.

The Turbine is named ‘Gulliver’; this name was picked from a list of suggestions given by readers of a local newspaper, the Lowestoft Journal. The construction of the wind turbine began on Tuesday 7 December 2004 with a 108 metre high crane lifting the 71 tonne Tower Lower Section. The 65 tonne Tower Middle Section, 46 tonne Tower Top Section, 83 tonne nacelle and 54 tonne, 92 m diameter Rotor Blade Assembly were erected on Friday 10 December 2004. The new turbine began generating electricity in January 2005 and has a generating capacity of up to 2.75 MW, although the original proposal was for an even bigger 3.2 MW turbine.

The hub height is 80 m (262 ft). The blade tip height is 126 m (413 ft). The nacelle assembly weighs 83 tonnes and is 11.2 m (37 ft) long, 3.3 m (11 ft) wide, 3.8 m (12.5 ft) high, making it the biggest wind turbine on mainland UK as of April 2005.

Each of the 3 blades weighs 10 tonnes and is 44.8 m (147 ft) long. The overall diameter of the rotor assembly is 92 m (301 ft). The blade tips slice through the air at about 150 miles per hour. The turbulence this generates accounts for the pulsating "whooshing" noise audible when you stand underneath. This sound, combined with the height, weight and dimensions, prompted the owners to conduct tests for "subsonic" sounds and vibrations after several people reported feeling "nauseous" and suffering from "Ground level vertigo" when standing nearby.

On 8 June 2007 one of the blades was struck by lightning during a storm causing what appeared to be a small explosion at the end of the struck rotor blade. Damage was not as bad as first thought and the turbine was running again later in the day,a few days later it broke down and took over three months to repair.

Literary and artistic connections

Lowestoft has a number of literary and artistic connections.

In the 1840s, Charles Dickens came to stay with Sir Samuel Morton Peto. Lowestoft's Beach Village, along with Blundeston village, became the inspiration for David Copperfield.

The nineteenth century writer and traveller George Borrow lived in Oulton Broad for many years and wrote most of his books there. Joseph Conrad came from his native Poland to live in Lowestoft in 1878. Edward Fitzgerald, the translator of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam, lived in Lowestoft. W.G. Sebald, who taught at the University of East Anglia and was tragically killed in 2001, wrote about Lowestoft in The Rings of Saturn.

The composer Benjamin Britten was born in Lowestoft in 1913. He lived on the seafront at 21 Kirkley Cliff Road until 1933. When he returned to Suffolk to establish a Festival, it was not to Lowestoft (for which he had little regard) but to Aldeburgh.

The children's author and illustrator Michael Foreman was born in 1938, and spent his childhood years in Pakefield where his mother kept the grocers shop on Pakefield Triangle. He attended Pakefield Primary School, and played on Hilly Green - stories of which are recorded in his book War Boy.

The Television comedy writer Andrew Marshall, probably most famous for the BBC One situation comedy 2point4 children, also lived in Lowestoft and attended Fen Park Primary and Lowestoft Grammar School.

Glam rock band, The Darkness was formed in Lowestoft but spent their formative years in London. Three of the four founder members were raised in Lowestoft. Justin Hawkins, Dan Hawkins and Ed Graham all attended Kirkley High School. Several of their songs are either about or make reference to the town, or the surrounding area.

Horror writer Joseph Freeman (also published as Joe Rattigan) lived near the town centre before moving to Kessingland. His story 'Wrong Side of the Tracks' from his book Ghosts Far From Subtle features the Lowestoft to Norwich train journey.

Places of Interest

  • The Royal Naval Patrol Service Memorial, located in Belle Vue Park.
  • The East Anglia Transport Museum is located in Carlton Colville a village to the west of the town, which has a collection of working Trams, Trolleybuses and a Miniature Railway, as well as various buses and other transport artifacts, many with local connections.
  • Africa Alive and car boot sale is located to the south of the town. It concentrates on African animals a,and has amongst others, Cheetahs, Lions, Rhinos and Giraffes. It is also home to one of the United Kingdom's few Aardvarks.
  • Pleasurewood Hills is located in the north of the town.
  • Ness Point, the most easterly location in the United Kingdom, is located in the town close to the wind turbine. At the most easterly point is a large compass rose set in the ground which gives the direction and distance to various cities in Europe.
  • Oulton Broad, the most visited area of the broads by tourists, is located in the town. Motorboats can be hired to travel on the broads, however tours are also available. Powerboat racing also occurs every Thursday throughout the summer, hosting local boats and occasionally a round of a national or international championship throughout classes of powerboat.
  • The Broads National Park is located near to the town and some of its walks are in Carlton Marshes located in Carlton Colville, a suburb of the town.
  • Corton Nudist Beach is located in Corton near the northern suburbs of the town.
  • The town is also well renowned for its beaches, three of which are the holders of blue flags.
  • Belle Vue Park is near the North Beach and has many features including a restaurant, two museums, bowling green, a small auditorium, and many mature trees.
  • The North Beach is hidden away and much quieter and less used than the south beach. Walking or cycling from the south, its promenade begins next to the harbour and passes the industrial area at Ness Point where the wind turbine and compass rose are. Once the frozen-food factory has been passed, Lowestoft lighthouse and a historic fishing net drying area can be seen. Belle Vue Park is nearby. There is a very large grassed area formerly used as a caravan park. By the promenade the beach is mostly pebbles rather than sand and is unsuitable for swimming. Approaching the Gunton area of Lowestoft, where the promenade stops, the beach changes to sand and has a large area of heathland rising up to the rear. Continuing northwards through the nudist beach brings you to Corton, where metal stairs give access to the village.

Waveney Sunrise Scheme And Associated Works

Over the past few years £14m has been spent on the redevelopment of Lowestoft town centre, and an additional £30.8m has been paid for the construction of the South Lowestoft Relief Road (now called Tom Crisp Way, Opened 27th June 2006).The cost of providing third river crossing to alleviate the constant traffic jams was estimated at £20m . The main focus of the Sunrise Scheme was to spend £14 million to overhaul the 1970s built town centre, by renewing the paving and lighting, and planting several young trees.

The Lowestoft Relief Road (that opened on June 27th 2006) was a £30m scheme that coincided with the Sunrise Scheme to alleviate traffic on the usually congested London Road South (formerly the A12). The road follows a corridor from the Bloodmoor roundabout in Pakefield, through to Horn Hill. This was formerly green open space. The road then joins with the Lowestoft Bascule Bridge before continuing north to Great Yarmouth. The road itself is single carriageway with a speed limit, and is now classified as the A12.

Lowestoft's Bascule bridge has been closed periodically both overnight and for several days whilst refurbishment work is undertaken. This work was originally scheduled to be completed by Christmas 2007 and the proposed continuation of work, and resulted night time closures, well into 2008 has attracted an inquiry into the Highways Agency's handling of the project.

Administrative problems

Lowestoft planning department has been given a rating of zero stars by the government. The Chief Executive has recently been dismissed and a temporary Chief Executive is in place.

Suburbs and surrounding villages

To the north of Lake Lothing:

To the south of the lake:

To the west of the lake:

Nearby villages to the north are:

Nearby villages to the south:

Well-Known people from Lowestoft

References

External links

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