Vintage arrival signals new heritage project at town’s Railway Station
- Credit: Archant
Work has begun on creating a new heritage area next to Lowestoft Station.
The latest phase in efforts to regenerate the station forms part of a scheme that aims to celebrate the history of the former rail-link with the town’s Fish Market and Outer Harbour.
The Lowestoft Central Project, in association with the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership, has taken delivery of a set of railway crossing gates, which will be installed to form a 60ft wide backdrop to the area at the back of the station, where the former track across to the harbour has been preserved – 50 years since it was last used.
The gates will be restored and repainted over the summer, and mounted onto their original concrete posts to form a western boundary to the area, complimented by an original semaphore signal and interpretation panels telling the history of the link which when operational, saw millions of tonnes of fish transported via the rails which ran alongside Waveney Road and across the A12 into the station site until the early 1970s.
The south east corner of the station, home to the short stay car park, will house the heritage element.
It comes as part of an ongoing rejuvenation scheme across the station site which has been supported by Greater Anglia.
Over the summer, project volunteers will begin restoring the gates, which have been gifted by Network Rail following completion of the Wherry Lines modernisation project.
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They were transported to the location by Lowestoft-based company, Wavetrade Ltd.
Martin Halliday, Community Rail development officer at Community Rail Norfolk, said: “The Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership and the Lowestoft Central Project are pleased to commence this latest phase in our ongoing efforts to regenerate the station.
“This scheme aims to enhance the south eastern aspect of the site and enable us to both celebrate and share more of Lowestoft’s rich railway history.”
Project volunteer, Tim Miller, who helped to co-ordinate the installation added: “We are delighted to receive the gates and with each of them being 27ft long, it proved quite a challenge to get them into position.
“We are grateful to the assistance received both in obtaining and delivering these to site.
“It will certainly be a busy few months ahead for the project as we begin work to restore them and create our heritage area.”
Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Officer, added: “Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Lowestoft Central Project and the Community Rail Partnership, Lowestoft station is really being given a new lease of life and is looking better and better.
“While we can’t travel for pleasure just now, when more normal times resume the station will be in a great position to continue to serve its community and attract more visitors to the town by rail, thanks to its increasing heritage charms.”
Lowestoft was an important railway port, having developed rapidly from the mid-1800s after Samuel Morton Peto purchased the harbour and built the railway to the town.
In addition to lines running to Ipswich, Norwich and the former direct route to Yarmouth, the railway developed and operated the fish market, harbour and South Pier with a number of rail related manufacturing and supply networks including the Harbour Engineering Works, Sleeper Depot, Concrete Products factory and south of the town, a full network of freight lines serving shipyards and factories.
Morton Peto also developed much of Victorian Lowestoft, including the Royal Hotel, St John’s Church and several other landmarks.
In the 1920s, Lowestoft was the busiest port owned and operated by the Great Eastern Railway with tonnage through the harbour far outstripping that of Harwich.
A century on, Network Rail have recently developed brand new freight sidings on the site of the former goods yard, creating an opportunity for port related rail freight traffic to return.
A £60m infrastructure modernisation scheme on the Wherry Lines routes was completed in February and train operator, Greater Anglia has introduced an entirely new fleet of passenger trains.