Old Lowestoft high street directory reveals extent of change
PUBLISHED: 17:30 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:30 11 April 2019
Archant © 2012
It’s a list that offers a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
But an old Lowestoft street directory is also a stark reminder of the trials the High Street has been through, with only a handful of tenants from yesteryear remaining today.
Uncovered in town centre store Holgates and believed to date back to the late 1960s, the directory lists shops on one side of the town centre at London Road North – with mentions of roads and premises in between at Surrey Street, The Prairie, Gordon Road, Regent Road and Milton Road – as it runs from 35 to 185 London Road North.
The directory excerpt was kept by Carol and Martin Pettit, owners of Holgates, and features a large advert for the menswear shop which they have run in the town centre with their son William and daughter Elizabeth for the past 23 years – but announced its forthcoming closure this week.
Mr Pettit said: “It shows what the high street was like before – but I just think it is really interesting to see that there are only one or two of the businesses left today.”
According to The Changing Face of London Road North Then and Now, by historian Crispin Hook, back in the 1950s Lowestoft had 824 shops – with 78 grocers leading the way ahead of 48 restaurants and cafés, 29 boot and shoe repair shops, and 12 dairies.
But just this week Waveney MP Peter Aldous revealed that 75 out of 410 stores in the town were now vacant, revealing a stark change in fortunes.
Among the businesses listed in the directory at 35, London Road North – the site of the existing McDonald’s restaurant – was the former Suffolk Hotel.
This prominent hotel was built in 1873, and lasted almost a century before it was demolished in 1971.
Listed at 47 to 49, London Road North on the directory was Lloyds Bank Ltd, which remains. As does Natwest at 53, London Road North, which is listed in the directory as National Provincial Bank Ltd – which was opened around 1968.
The directory also lists Barclays Bank at 61, London Road North, which has now been extended into 63, London Road North.
Featuring in the directory at 125, London Road North is Tesco Ltd, which opened its doors in Lowestoft in 1964 and remains.
Listed at 143, London Road North is Aldred and partners estate agents, which still remains.
At 147, London Road North on the directory is Eastern Counties Newspapers – the offices of the Lowestoft Journal and Eastern Daily Press in Lowestoft.
Although the company is now named Archant, the building has been The Journal’s base since 2002.
Lowestoft Street Directory shops on London Road North
35 - Suffolk Hotel
37 - Norton Frederick and Sons Tobacconists
39 - Irene (Lowestoft) Ltd gown makers
41 - Cole Jn and Co drug store
43 - Chain Libraries Ltd stationers
45 - Brahms Ltd. soft furnishers
47/49 - Lloyds Bank Ltd
51 - Thompson and Alexander quantity surveyors
53 - National Provinicial Bank Ltd
Here is Surret Street
55 - Purdy W. Ltd bakers
57 - Foster wine merchants Ltd
59 - Currys Ltd. cycle dealers
61 - Barclays Bank Ltd
63 - Lipton Ltd.
65/67 - Eastern Gas
69 - Matthes Ltd. bakers
71 - Timothy Whites hardware dealers
73 - Cooper W S Ltd china dealers
75 - Fieldings Ltd cycle dealers
77 - Irene Tobatt ladies hairdresser
77a - Jas Smith and sons (cleaners) Ltd
79 - Meesons Ltd. confectioners
81 - Lista Food Fare Co Ltd. grocers
83 - Freeman, Hardy and Willis Ltd boot makers
85 - JG Craik and Son Ltd fruiterers
87/89 - Leather-Luxe of Lowestoft
Here is The Prairie
91 - Paige gown makers
93 - British Bata Shoe Co Ltd
95 and 97a - British Home Stores
99 - Chas J Evans opticians
99a - Arthur D Bayne watch makers
101 - Finlay and Co Ltd tobacconists
103 - Timpson Ltd. boot makers
105 and 107 - Eastern Counties Omnibus Co Ltd
109 - Woolworth department store
111 - International Tea Co’s Stores Ltd
113 - Bradleys (Chester) Ltd gents outfitters
Here is Gordon Road
115 - Roberson and Linen House Ltd drapers
117 - Norwich Union Insurance Group
119 - T Gore and Son jewellers
121 - L & R Taylor stationers
121 - S T Stangroom estate agent
123 - Donald W MacLeod dental surgeon
125 - Tesco Ltd
127 - Lowestoft Electrical Company
Here is Regent Road
141 - Lowestoft Co-Operative Society Ltd
143 - Aldred and Partners estate agents
143a - Lucas and Wyllys solicitors
147 - Eastern Counties Newspapers
149/151 - Morlings Ltd music
153 - Curry and Paxton Ltd dispensing opticians
155 - Sylvia ladies hairdresser
157 London Road North - George Porter Motorcycles Ltd
Here is Milton Road
159 - Roberson and Linen House Ltd drapers
161 - East Anglian Trustee Savings Bank
163 - Norton Eldrick Ltd retail tobacconist
165 - Norton Eldrick Ltd gifts
167 - Catchpole, Richards, Chapman and Utting estate agents
169 - W and R Fletcher Ltd butchers
171 - Nursery Shop fruiterers
173 - Mrs Ethel M Harvey pork butcher
175 - Ten Bean fishing tackle
177 - Golden Star café
181 - Holgates menswear Ltd
183 - Surplus Trading Co outfitters
185 - Fred Cook home furnishers