Lowestoft history detectives on the prowl
(C) Archant Norfolk 2013
An army of young sleuths will soon be taking to the streets of Lowestoft – to shed new light on the town’s past.
The heritage detectives are being recruited by a new project called the Lowestoft Living Archive in an effort to unearth forgotten or little-known facts about the area’s history and prevent it being lost to future generations.
It is hoped the students, recruited from Lowestoft Sixth-Form College and from schools and youth groups in the town, will create a comprehensive website archive of material dating from 1900 to 2000.
As well as searching for documentary evidence of incidents or events, such as local trawlermen who converted their boats into makeshift mine-sweepers in the first world war, the project will see young people recording interviews with a wide range of people to compile their memories and recollections.
The Lowestoft Living Archive has been set up by students at Lowestoft Sixth-Form College and is managed by the Enterprise Lowestoft Community Interest Company, after a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Yolanda Botham, principal of the college, said: “We are delighted the Living Archive bid has been successful. This project is special because it will help uncover some fascinating hidden history and really add to Lowestoft’s rich past. Our students can’t wait to get started.”
One of the first phases of the project saw college students visit Lowestoft Town Hall to study a painting of Royal Navy skipper Tom Crisp to show how people might not be aware of his local connections.
Tom Crisp Way in Lowestoft was named after him because he was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, having lost his life defending fishing vessels from a German U-boat attack in the first world war.
The history detectives will work with historians and museums in the area as well as the Lowestoft Record Office, the Royal Navy Patrol Service Association, the Suffolk Family History Society and the Lowestoft Cine and Camcorder Club, to create an interactive website database.
Towards the end of the project in June, the team will stage a multi-media event to showcase their discoveries in schools and libraries.
A spokesman for the project said: “Much of this history is in danger of being lost as the town rapidly changes. The Lowestoft Living Archive aims to capture these stories and preserve them.”
Robyn Llewellyn, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the east of England, said: “We are very pleased to support this project under our Young Roots grant programme. I am sure the young heritage detectives will not only discover many stories that deserve to be told; they will also help to create a lasting record of their town’s past achievements.
“This is something for which future generations will be grateful.”
Early financial support for the scheme was provided by councillors Colin Law, Mike Barnard, Bruce Provan and Mary Rudd from their locality budgets.