Old Lowestoft high street directory reveals extent of change

PUBLISHED: 17:30 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:30 11 April 2019

Lowestoft Town centre.

Lowestoft Town centre.

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.

Lowestoft town centre shops in 1982. Picture: LibraryLowestoft town centre shops in 1982. Picture: Library

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.

A printed out copy of the Lowestoft Street Directory, believed to be from the late 1960s. Picture: Mark BoggisA printed out copy of the Lowestoft Street Directory, believed to be from the late 1960s. Picture: Mark Boggis

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.

Mr Pettit at Holgates in Lowestoft, which is closing down. Pictures: Mark BoggisMr Pettit at Holgates in Lowestoft, which is closing down. Pictures: Mark Boggis

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 Town Centre.Lowestoft Town Centre.

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

Odeon Theatre

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

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