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Heritage Open Days returns to Lowestoft

5 September 2023

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The hugely popular Lowestoft Heritage Open Days Festival returns this Friday, 8 September with ten days of free to enjoy activities celebrating our towns rich history and culture.

Once again, Lowestoft joins the nationwide celebration with a host of events specially curated for the festival with talks, walks, exhibitions, recitals, and rare opportunities to view behind the scenes at some of the area’s most iconic buildings. The opening of this years festival coincides with the opening of a new independent archive facility for the town, housed in the Grit Arts Centre on Old Nelson Street, with public tours available from Saturday.

On Saturday, 9 September, a free Heritage Bus Service will connect activities across Lowestoft and Oulton Broad calling at locations including Lowestoft Railway Station, Nicholas Everett Park in Oulton Broad, Whapload Road, Gordon Road and London Road South operated by the East Anglia Transport Museum in Carlton Colville which, with its working trams, trains and trolleybuses will also be opening free of charge to all for the day.

Other activities during the opening weekend include an 1880s Festival in the High Street / Triangle Market, Seafest 23 – a showcase of fish and seafood with live music and stalls at Sam’s Cold Store on Haddenham Rd, an exhibition featuring the former Lowestoft to Yarmouth Railway and tours of the historic swing bridge at Somerleyton.

As part of the festival several churches are opening their doors to visitors including the 500year old Parish church of St Margarets, Pakefield Church, Our Lady Star of the Sea in Gordon Road which will  enable the public to climb its tower and enjoy some spectacular views, North Lowestoft United Reform Church, St Nicholas Church and Christ Church, once at the very heart of the Beach Village which has served the town since 1869.

The festival brings a host of free to enjoy activities including opportunities to see artists at work, learn more about the towns famous composers, authors and artists, the manufacture of Lowestoft Porcelain, visit several of the town’s museums, a pop-up art gallery and five free music recitals.

The St John Ambulance Heritage Centre on Oxford Road will open its doors on Sat 9 and throughout the festival, a host of Old Lowestoft photographs from the Bert Collyer collection will be available to view at the Lowestoft Museum. Amateur Dramatic Society, the Lowestoft Players are opening their theatre housed within the former Sailors and Fisherman’s Bethel on Sept 16 and the neighbouring Marina Theatre are hosting tours and workshops on Sat 17.

Walks and talks include a tour of the nearby village of Corton with acclaimed historian David Butcher, the towns former Hanging Garden’s near the High Street, a chance to see and hear how the railway station narrowly survived destruction during two world wars, an update from the Lowestoft Central Project on their efforts to rejuvenate Lowestoft station, a workshop on tracing family histories and a fascinating tour giving a rare insight into the history and current operations of the Port of Lowestoft.

Exhibitions include railway photography, Corton and its connections to Colman’s Mustard, the history of some of Kirkley’s streets, famous local authors, composers and artists, fishermen’s Ganseys and the town’s maritime heritage.

Once again, the Lowestoft Festival is presenting more events than any town in Suffolk and the Festival Information Hub will be open throughout at the Tourist information Office at the railway station.

Martin Halliday, newly appointed Chair of the Lowestoft Heritage Open Days Festival steering group said; “We are thrilled to be launching this year’s festival, a unique celebration of our town’s heritage with all events free for the public to enjoy. We are hugely grateful to the many organisations and individuals that are enabling access to some of the town’s most iconic buildings or sharing some unique elements of our history including Network Rail for their Somerleyton Swing Bridge tours, the Lowestoft Central Project and Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership for their sponsorship and hosting of the Festival Information Hub, many of the town’s historians and museums, especially the East Anglia Transport Museum who are operating the free Heritage Bus Service on Sat 9, connecting many of the festival locations and activities as well as opening their museum free of charge on the same day.”

To view all the free activities taking place as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days Festival, please go to www.heritageopendays.org.uk and search Lowestoft. For those unable to access online information, a free twelve-page printed listing guide has been produced and is available to collect from the Festival Information Hub at the railway station.