Lowestoft’s history to become a living archive

1953 floods oulton broad

1953 floods oulton broad - Credit: Archant

It once boasted one of the UK's biggest fishing fleets, took a pounding from the Luftwaffe in the second world war and is the birthplace of one of the country's finest composers.

Defences being dug in ww2

Defences being dug in ww2 - Credit: Archant

Some things about Lowestoft are well-known and well-documented. But much of its history is now becoming a distant and fading memory as the town heads towards what will hopefully be a bright future in the 21st century.

1945 victory parade

1945 victory parade - Credit: Archant

Amid concerns that this valuable heritage could be lost forever, memories and photographs of the town between 1900 and 2000 are now being saved for posterity thanks to a team of volunteers.

The website of the Lowestoft Living Archive is about to be launched – bringing to life the everyday tales of fishermen, factory workers and families in years gone by and preserving them for future generations.

The Lowestoft Living Archive project was set up last year and has seen young people become history hunters to gather material for the website, which will soon be found at www.lowestoftlivingarchive.co.uk

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The team of young researchers has researched famous figures in the town such as Victoria Cross winner Tom Crisp, who died defending fishing vessels from U-boats in the first world war, interviewed people for their memories of the town and studied hundreds of old documents and archive photographs.

The ethos of the project is summed up by the history work undertaken by the archive team after a set of old photographs were unearthed by a Lowestoft Sixth Form College student.

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The photographs show an unknown 19th century fireman, second world war defences being prepared on the seafront, a 1945 victory parade, Oulton Broad in the 1953 floods and a woman standing in one of the town's scores.

After extensive research, it was discovered that they once belonged to keen amateur photographer Muriel Joyce Dodd.

It is now hoped that other parts of Lowestoft's hidden history will be unearthed and made available to a wider audience on the new website, which has been set up and organised by students at Lowestoft Sixth Form College.

Once the website is fully up and running, people in the town will be able to submit their own pictures, documents and memories for inclusion as a way of preserving even more of the town's rich heritage.

The Lowestoft Living Archive project was set up after funding was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund and it is managed by Enterprise Lowestoft, with input from a number of organisations in the town.

Mike Holroyd, one of the leaders of the project, said: 'This website is for the whole of Lowestoft and it is a very exciting project. We want to collect the town's lost heritage put it in a digital format.

'We want to celebrate the heritage of our town and ensure that everyone can learn about their origins and the origins of the place they live in.'

The project has been supported by the Lowestoft Record Office, the Lowestoft Cine and Camcorder Club, Lowestoft Museum, Lowestoft Maritime Museum, the Royal Navy Patrol Service Association, Lowestoft's Heritage Workshop Centre and the Suffolk Family History Society.

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