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New project celebrating town’s historic fishing village is launched

PUBLISHED: 17:54 27 January 2018 | UPDATED: 18:39 28 January 2018

A new project celebrating Lowestoft's historic beach village has been launched. Picture: Nick Butcher

A new project celebrating Lowestoft's historic beach village has been launched. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Hundreds of people fascinated by a town’s former glories came together to learn about an exciting new project.

The historic fishing village was once home to 2,500 people. Picture: Nick Butcher The historic fishing village was once home to 2,500 people. Picture: Nick Butcher

Led by poet and writer Dean Parkin, ‘The Grit’ is a community-driven scheme devised by Poetry People as a way to celebrate Lowestoft’s historic fishing village.

The area, known by locals as either the Beach Village or The Grit, was once home to 2,500 people, 13 pubs, three schools, two churches, shops and cafés.

The decline of the fishing industry contributed to the demise of the village. Picture: Nick Butcher The decline of the fishing industry contributed to the demise of the village. Picture: Nick Butcher

However, the Second World War, flooding in 1953 and the demise of the fishing industry led to The Grit’s decline and, by the early 1970s, only a few houses remained as new industries moved in.

But now Poetry People, in partnership with Lowestoft Rising and Lowestoft Maritime Museum, are embarking on a venture that includes primary school workshops, teaching resources, a live touring show and a celebration day in Sparrow’s Nest park.

The floods of 1953 contributed to the decline of the fishing village. Picture: Mick Howes The floods of 1953 contributed to the decline of the fishing village. Picture: Mick Howes

On Saturday, those interested in the village’s rich history gathered at Christ Church Centre on Whapload Road to hear about what the project entails, exchange stories and view an intriguing exhibition.

“The turnout for the gathering has been amazing,” said Mr Parkin. “You’re hopeful that local people will be interested but, until the day itself, you really don’t know.

'The Grit' project is designed to celebrate days gone by and teach people about Lowestoft's former glories. 
Picture: Nick Butcher 'The Grit' project is designed to celebrate days gone by and teach people about Lowestoft's former glories. Picture: Nick Butcher

“Those who have spoken to me are so encouraging and passionate about what we’re trying to do.

“Our motto is to ‘put The Grit back into Lowestoft’; we want this to be more than nostalgia, but also a celebration.”

Dean Parkin is planning to reissue the book that he co-wrote in 1997, 'The Grit'. Picture: Mick Howes Dean Parkin is planning to reissue the book that he co-wrote in 1997, 'The Grit'. Picture: Mick Howes

The project, armed with a £55,000 National Lottery grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, is also an opportunity for the reissue of a book celebrating the fishing village and the people who lived there.

Also titled The Grit, it was published in 1997 having been co-written by Mr Parkin and Jack Rose, a popular fisherman and historian.

Hundreds gathered at Christ Church to hear what the project will entail. Picture: Nick Butcher Hundreds gathered at Christ Church to hear what the project will entail. Picture: Nick Butcher

“This is a great chance to refresh the book and coincide its publication with the project,” added Mr Parkin.

“We want to find as many new images and stories as we can. There’s a Beach Village community which is still very much alive on Facebook and to see them interacting with each other has been incredible.”

Fascinated locals hear a presentation about 'The Grit' project. 
Picture: Nick Butcher Fascinated locals hear a presentation about 'The Grit' project. Picture: Nick Butcher

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. 
Picture: Nick Butcher 'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher

The exhibiton gave visitors an insight into days gone by. Picture: Mick Howes The exhibiton gave visitors an insight into days gone by. Picture: Mick Howes

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. 
Picture: Nick Butcher 'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. 
Picture: Nick Butcher 'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher

Fishing village houses that were once situated on Whapload Road. Picture: Mick Howes Fishing village houses that were once situated on Whapload Road. Picture: Mick Howes

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. 
Picture: Nick Butcher 'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. 
Picture: Nick Butcher 'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. 
Picture: Nick Butcher 'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher

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