'The best ever': More than 15,000 visits to town's Heritage Open Days Festival
PUBLISHED: 09:53 26 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:53 26 September 2019
Organisers have hailed the success of a popular festival as record numbers turned out to enjoy an array of activities.
With more than 15,000 visits to over 85 free events, walks, talks and concerts that were held at numerous sites, Lowestoft's hugely popular Heritage Open Days Festival brought out the best in the town once more.
The 10-day festival promised a huge mix of the town's architectural, cultural, industrial, maritime and wartime life - and it did not disappoint, with something on offer for all.
Paul King, chairman of the Heritage Open Days Lowestoft steering group who organise and co-ordinate the festival and publish the annual brochure, said: "We have had the best festival ever with more visitor numbers than ever, well exceeding our expectations."
Initial estimates for the festival indicate a substantial increase in visitor numbers from last year - with organisers stating that well in excess of 15,000 visits took place.
Many tours, guided walks and events were full to capacity with organisers having to lay on extra tours where it was possible.
Mr King said: "Out of over 800 towns and cities participating in the national festival Lowestoft came an astonishing 10th for hosting the most sites and events.
"That's an achievement that the town should rightly celebrate and be very proud of.
"We strive to find new and interesting buildings for the public to view so as to keep the festival fresh and vibrant every year."
He added: "We were delighted this year to have the Winsor & Newton, Crown artist brush factory, join us to give tours of their heritage premises and learn about their incredible journey to producing the world's most respected artist's brushes.
"The fact that companies such as this, and others, exist in Lowestoft is something we really want to promote and publicise.
"We would love to expand next year to promote and showcase more of our industrial and fishing heritage, there are wonders hidden away in the town that we are constantly trying to uncover and bring to a wider audience.
"The positive feedback we have received as well as the boost the town gets both in tourism and economical impact makes all the hard work that goes into organising such a big event so worthwhile.
The railway signal box at Lowestoft has controlled all movements of trains and rolling stock in and out of the station and sidings for more than 100 years.
And visitors to the Lowestoft Heritage Open Days had the rare chance to see behind the scenes of the mechanical box as a series of sold out tours were held before it is replaced in the new year as part of a major modernisation programme.
The sailing smack Excelsior also proved a popular attraction during the festival.
Paul King, chairman of Lowestoft Heritage Open Days, said: "The Excelsior smack was a great new feature for 2019 as was the 1904 Signal Box which attracted visitors from far and wide.
"The 10-day festival has brought in visitors not just from Lowestoft but from all over the country.
"The greatest feature of Heritage Open Days is that it's all free and this is only possible due to the local volunteers making it so."
Among the events that were also held was the chance to see history in the street at Kirkley.
Organisers worked with the Kirkley Forum as visitors were able to look at the history of Cleveland Road and Windsor Road in Kirkley. It included people who lived there historically - such as actor Michael Caine - along with photos of the First World War damage that properties in the two roads had suffered.
Lowestoft Town Council showcased the Town Hall during the festival as it was opened to the public. Visitors had the chance to see displays of local history and learn more about what a valuable asset this wonderful old building is.
Paul King, chairman of Lowestoft Heritage Open Days, said: "We still have an enormous amount of great heritage in Lowestoft and so long as the public support us by turning out in their hundreds and thousands to visit our sites and events, we will continue to expand the festival in future years."