Lowestoft beach and outer harbour
|OS grid reference|
|• London||110 mi (180 km) South-west|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||NR32, NR33|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
Lowestoft (/ /( ) ,) is an English town and civil parish in the county of Suffolk. The town, on the North Sea coast, is the most easterly settlement of the United Kingdom. It is 110 miles (177 km) north-east of London, 38 miles (61 km) north-east of Ipswich and 22 miles (35 km) south-east of Norwich. It lies on the edge of The Broads system and is the major settlement in the district of East Suffolk, with a population of 71,010 in 2011. Some of the earliest evidence of settlement in Britain has been found here. As a port town it developed out of the fishing industry and as a traditional seaside resort. It has wide, sandy beaches, two piers and other attractions. While its fisheries have declined, oil and gas exploitation in the southern North Sea in the 1960s added to its development, as a base for the industry alongside nearby Great Yarmouth. This role has declined, but the town has begun to develop as an Eastern England centre of the renewable energy industry.
- 1 History
- 2 Government
- 3 Geography
- 4 Demography
- 5 Economy
- 6 Culture and community
- 7 Landmarks
- 8 Transport
- 9 Education
- 10 Sport and leisure
- 11 Notable people
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The discovery of flint tools in the cliffs at Pakefield in south Lowestoft in 2005 means that human habitation of the Lowestoft area can be traced back 700,000 years. This establishes it as one of the earliest inhabited sites known in Britain.
The area was during the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages and in the Roman and Saxon periods. A Saxon cemetery at Bloodmoor Hill in south Lowestoft has produced a number of finds. The settlement's name is derived from the Viking personal name Hlothver and toft, a Viking word for homestead. The town's name has been spelled variously: Lothnwistoft or Lothuwistoft, Lestoffe, Laistoe, Loystoft and Laystoft.
In the 1086 Domesday Book the village appears as Lothuwistoft with a small population of about 16 households, comprising three families, ten smallholders and three slaves. The manor formed part of the king's holding in the Hundred of Lothingland, worth about four geld in tax income. Roger Bigod was the tenant in chief. The lost village of Akethorpe may have been located close by.
In the Middle Ages Lowestoft became an increasingly important fishing town that grew to challenge its neighbour, Great Yarmouth. The trade, particularly fishing for herring, continued to act as the town's main identity into the 20th century.
Lowestoft Porcelain Factory, active from 1757 to 1802, was in production for longer than any English soft-paste porcelain manufacturers other than Royal Worcester and Royal Crown Derby, producing domestic ware such as pots, teapots and jugs. The factory, built on the site of an existing pottery or brick kiln, was later used as a brewery and malt kiln. Most of its remaining buildings were demolished in 1955.
Sir Samuel Morton Peto's 19-century arrival in Lowestoft brought a change in the town's fortunes that included improving the fishing industry. To help stimulate it, Peto was given the task of building a railway line by the Lowestoft Railway & Harbour Company, connecting the town with Reedham and the city of Norwich, to help stimulate further development in the fishing industry. Its completion had a profound impact on the town's industrial development – its fishing fleets could sell to markets further inland, and it assisted the development of other industries such as engineering, through boosted trade with the continent. Peto's railway was key also to establishing Lowestoft as a flourishing seaside holiday resort.
During World War I, Lowestoft was bombarded by the German Navy on 24 April 1916 in conjunction with the Easter Rising. The port was a significant naval base during the war, including for armed trawlers such as Ethel & Millie and Nelson which were used to combat German U-boat actions in the North Sea such as that of 15 August 1917. In World War II, the town was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe due to its engineering industry and role as a naval base. It is sometimes claimed that it became one of the UK's most heavily bombed towns per head of population. The Royal Naval Patrol Service, formed mainly by trawlermen and fishermen of the Royal Naval Reserve, was mobilised in August 1939. Its central depot HMS Europa, was also known locally as Sparrow's Nest.
Lowestoft is the major settlement in the East Suffolk district. It is a former municipal borough, having lost this status in 1974, although it retains a ceremonial mayor elected by its councillors annually. Suffolk County Council is the county authority. A civil parish was created on 1 April 2017.
The town is part of the Waveney parliamentary constituency, represented at Westminster by Conservative Peter Aldous. Former MPs include Bob Blizzard, David Porter and Jim Prior, a cabinet minister and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in the Thatcher governments, who also represented the former constituency of Lowestoft. For European Union elections Lowestoft forms part of the East of England constituency.
Prior to 1 April 2019, as part of Waveney District Council, Lowestoft was divided into ten electoral wards, with Carlton Colville treated as a separate electoral area. Harbour, Kirkley, Normanston, Pakefield, St Margarets and Whitton wards elected three councillors each, and Carlton, Gunton and Corton, Oulton and Oulton Broad wards each two. Of the 48 council seats in the district, 26 represented wards within Lowestoft, and three more represented Carlton Colville. In 2010 the council changed to a Whole Council process, with all seats elected every four years. The most recent (and final, as Waveney) district council elections were on 7 May 2015, at which the Labour party held 19 of the Lowestoft seats, concentrated in the central areas of the town. The Conservative Party won seven seats.
On 1 April 2019, the governance arrangements for Lowestoft changed, as a result of the merger of Waveney and Suffolk Coastal District Councils, to form the new "super" district council of East Suffolk. Elections were held on 2 May 2019, for the new Lowestoft wards, which are six in number. The seats, 14 in all, are allocated thus; Carlton and Whitton (2), Gunton and St. Margarets (2), Harbour and Normanston (3), Kirkley and Pakefield (3), Lothingland (1), and Oulton Broad (3). There are also changes to wards adjacent to Lowestoft. Following the inaugural 2019 East Suffolk District Council election of 2 May, the breakdown of the 14 Lowestoft seats, over the six new wards, was 8 to the Conservative Party, and 6 to Labour.
For Suffolk County Council, Lowestoft and its surrounding area are represented by eight councillors, split equally between four electoral divisions: Gunton, Lowestoft South, Oulton and Pakefield. For county council elections Pakefield division includes Carlton Colville. Elections take place every four years. Following the 2017 election, seven of Lowestoft's county councillors represented the Conservative party, and one the Labour. In 2018, one Conservative councillor left the party, to represent his seat as an Independent.
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Lowestoft is the easternmost town in the United Kingdom. It lies on the North Sea coast 110 miles (177 km) north-east of London, 38 miles (61 km) north-east of Ipswich and 22 miles (35 km) south-east of Norwich. The town is divided by Lake Lothing, which forms the inner part of Lowestoft Harbour and provides access via Oulton Broad and Oulton Dyke to the River Waveney and the Broads.
Lowestoft is mainly low-lying, but with hilly areas in the north of the town, the high points being 20–30 metres (66–98 ft) above sea level. The underlying rock is crag-sand with overlying sand and glacial till deposits with gravel, with the crag being exposed at coastal cliffs such as at Pakefield. Areas around Lake Lothing feature alluvium silt and some marshland remains west of Oulton Broad. The beaches to the south of the harbour are sandy and have Blue Flag status. To the north of the harbour is an area of old sand dunes known locally as the Denes, as well as more beaches and Ness Point, the easternmost point of the UK.
Lowestoft has been subject to periodic flooding, notably in January 1953, when a North Sea swell driven by low pressure and a high tide swept away many of the older sea defences and deluged most of the southern town. Heavy rain caused flash flooding in the town in September 2006. In December 2013, a storm surge caused severe flooding of Lowestoft and its suburbs.
Lowestoft is in one of the driest areas in the United Kingdom, with average rainfall of less than 600 mm a year. The rainfall is fairly evenly distributed through the year. Summer temperatures tend to reach 21°C in August, when the town averages over 200 hours of sunshine, whilst in winter minimum temperatures average 2°C. Significant snowfall is rare. Sea fog and cool onshore breezes can affect the town.
Lowestoft is Suffolk's second largest town after Ipswich, with an estimated population of 58,560 in 2010. Including the suburban areas of Oulton and Carlton Colville, which are part of the wider urban area, brings this population to 71,010, up from 64,358 at the 2001 census. The town contains business and residential areas, with the main shopping centre lying just to the north of Lake Lothing. The wider Lowestoft urban area includes the suburbs of Carlton Colville, Gunton, Pakefield, Oulton and Oulton Broad as well as the district of Kirkley. Outlying villages associated with Lowestoft include Blundeston, Corton, Gisleham, Kessingland and Somerleyton.
About 10 per cent of the Lowestoft area's population at the 2001 census was aged 75 or over and 20 per cent under 16. In general the population of a number of wards within the town is slightly skewed towards elderly people. The population is mainly classified as "white", with minority ethnic groups making up around 1.4 per cent of the population, compared with about 8.7 per cent nationally.
At the 2001 census there were 27,777 households, with an average household size of 2.40. In total 8,430 households (30 per cent) were classified as one-person households, while 26 per cent included children aged 15 or under. The proportion of households without a car was 29 per cent, whilst 22 per cent had two or more cars. In terms of housing tenure, 72 per cent of households were owner-occupied.
Originally based on the fishing and engineering industries, the economy of Lowestoft has declined over the years. Although the tourism sector has grown, the major employers in the town are in the wholesale and retail sector, making up 18 per cent of employment. Service industries, including health and social care and education are significant employers, whilst manufacturing employs around 10 per cent of the workforce. Employment in the town can vary seasonally due to the importance of tourism to the economy. In early 2011 around 10 per cent of the working population of the town claimed Jobseekers Allowance.
Until the mid-1960s, fishing was perceived as Lowestoft's main industry, although from the 1930s the percentage of those employed directly and in trades associated with fishing was actually only about 10 per cent of the working population. Fleets of drifters and trawlers caught fish such as herring, cod and plaice. Catches have diminished since the 1960s and although 100 boats remained by the 1980s, there are now only a few small boats operating out of Lowestoft, with no large trawlers. By 2011 just three traders remained at the town's fish market which is under threat of closure due to the redevelopment of the port. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), a large fisheries research centre that is a part of Defra, is still located in Lowestoft.
Other major traditional employers included the Eastern Coach Works and engineering and shipbuilding companies clustered around the harbour. These included the Brooke Marine and Richards shipbuilding companies, which together employed over a thousand men but went out of business in the 1990s, and the Norwich-based engineering company Boulton and Paul. Some shipbuilding and repair still goes on at the harbour.
Major local employers include Birds Eye frozen foods which employs 700 workers. The company has been located in the town for over 60 years. The food-processing company Wessex Foods closed its Lowestoft plant in 2010 after a fire destroyed the factory and it was unable to find alternative premises.
Several other employers have shed labour in recent years. The Sanyo plant in the town closed down in 2009 with the loss of 60 jobs. The plant had once employed 800 people. The timber company Jeld-Wen closed its factory in the town in 2010.
From the mid-1960s to the late 1990s, the oil and gas industry provided significant employment in the area. For many years the Shell Southern Operations base on the north shore of Lowestoft Harbour was town's largest employer. A decision to close the Shell base was finally made in 2003. The oil and gas industry is still a major industry here.
The town has attempted to develop itself as a centre for the development of renewable energy in the east of England. The non-profit Orbis Energy centre has been set up to attract business in the green energy sector to the town and features solar thermal heating. In April 2009, Associated British Ports announced that the harbour is to become the operations centre for the 500 MW Greater Gabbard wind farm, which when completed will be the world's largest offshore windfarm. The turbines will be located 15 miles (24 km) off the Suffolk coast and the Outer Harbour will be used to house the necessary operational support facilities. Other developments in the renewable energy sector include a prototype tidal energy generator being produced by local company 4NRG and wave power systems developed by Trident Energy.
Rainbow Saver Anglia Credit Union, a savings and loans co-operative established in 1999 and operating throughout East Anglia, is based in the town. Hoseasons, the self-catering UK Holiday specialist, is also a large employer here.
Due to more opportunities to work remotely across the country, Lowestoft has become the home of many start-up tech companies.
The town centre is the main shopping area, in Waveney district. The retail chain Marks & Spencer has a store. Chadds independent department store was founded in 1907, and after nearly 100 years trading in the High Street, was taken over in 2004 by the Great Yarmouth-based Palmers group. Specialist shopping areas, branded as The Historic High Street and the Triangle Market Place, have been developed on the northern edge of the centre. Several retail parks have appeared, the largest being North Quay Retail Park in Peto Way.
Lowestoft is a traditional seaside resort, first developed as a bathing site in the 1760s. The coast has been called the "Sunrise Coast". The town's main beaches are to the south of the harbour, where two piers, the Claremont and South piers, provide tourist facilities, and the East Point Pavilion the tourist information service. The beach south of the Claremont Pier is a Blue Flag beach. Lifeguard facilities are provided during the summer and water sports take place along the coast. Tourism is a significant aspect of the town's economy.
The town features two major attractions, the first being Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park, situated on the northern edge of the town, while the second is the Africa Alive! wildlife park, situated in the south at Kessingland. The town maintains a holiday park at Pakefield, operated by Pontins, and a small caravan site near its northern beach. The natural attractions of the Broads and the River Waveney on the west edge of the town, also attract visitors and been the site for boat trips and water sports events, with companies such as Hoseasons operating hire boats from Oulton Broad.
Between 1996 and 2012, the town hosted a major air show during the summer, dubbed the Lowestoft Airshow. A major attraction, the two-day event took place in August, and featuring a wide range of aircraft including the Red Arrows, a Lancaster bomber, Spitfires and an Avro Vulcan. From 2004, it was run by Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival Ltd, a non-profit company, but suffered financial difficulties. In 2010, the event made a loss of £40,000 and raised concerns over its sustainability, whereupon further financial difficulties, coupled with bad weather and low visitor numbers, made the 2012 airshow the last before it was discontinued.
Near the town centre is Lowestoft Maritime Museum, open from late April to late October, which has exhibits of maritime artefacts, an extensive collection of ship models and medals, marine art, fishing and the fishing industry, activities with the Royal Navy in WWII, and shipwrights' and coopers' tools.
Lowestoft is one of the more socially deprived areas in Suffolk, with Kirkley the most deprived ward in the county, ranking 173rd most deprived in England (out of 32,486). The area has attracted European Union redevelopment funding. The Waveney Sunrise Scheme invested £14.7 million in the town, funding transport improvements and tourist facilities such as fountains on Royal Plain, in an attempt to stimulate the local economy. Regeneration company 1st East, which focused on the Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth areas, closed in 2011.
Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone was announced in 2011 and launched in April 2012. The zone, developed by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, has six redevelopment sites across Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. The bid for the zone in 2011 aimed to create 13,500 jobs by 2036. It involved the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance and focused on developing the energy sector initially using tax incentives, simplified planning regulations and the provision of improved broadband internet services. The sites in Lowestoft are Mobbs Way, Riverside Road and South Lowestoft Industrial Estate.
The harbour is the focus for redevelopment proposals for Lowestoft in the form of the Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour Area Action Plan, submitted in February 2011. The plan focuses on the redevelopment of brownfield sites in and around the harbour area to create jobs, particularly in the renewable energy and retailing sectors.
Culture and community
The town has three theatres, the Marina Theatre, The Players Theatre (Lowestoft) and The Seagull community theatre. Operated as a Charitable Trust, the 800-seat Marina was substantially restored and refurbished in 2012 and its cinema upgraded to digital in 2013. A small four-screen cinema, the independently owned East Coast Cinema, underwent modest refurbishment in late 2011 to upgrade facilities and allow 3D films to be shown. The Beach radio station broadcasts to Lowestoft and the surrounding area, from studios in Norwich as does BBC Radio Suffolk, from Ipswich. The local weekly paper is the Lowestoft Journal, which is part of the Archant group. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has been resident at the Marina Theatre since 2005.
Lowestoft Museum, which holds a collection of Lowestoft Porcelain, as well as artifacts describing the town's history, is in Nicholas Everett Park in Oulton Broad. There are a number of small museums in Sparrow's Nest Park in the north of the town, including the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Royal Naval Patrol Service Museum. The Heritage Workshop Centre is also located in the park. The Mincarlo is the last surviving sidewinder trawler of the Lowestoft fishing fleet and can be visited at Lowestoft Harbour. The East Anglia Transport Museum, which holds a collection of buses, trams and trolleybuses is located in Carlton Colville.
Lowestoft retains a number of narrow lanes with steps running steeply towards the sea, known locally as "scores". These were used by fishermen and smugglers in the past and are now the site of an annual race which raises money for charity. The borough church, dedicated to St Margaret, is a Grade I listed building. In the town centre is Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, a Grade II listed building in the Arts and Crafts style and the most easterly Catholic church in the British Isles.
Lowestoft Library, in the centre of the town, contains a local-history section and a branch of the Suffolk Record Office.
Lowestoft Hospital was closed in 2016, services are now provided by the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston. The main burial grounds for the town are Lowestoft Cemetery and Kirkley Cemetery.
Ness Point, the most easterly location in the United Kingdom, is located in the town close to a 126-metre wind turbine, known locally as Gulliver. At the time it was completed the turbine was the tallest in the United Kingdom. At the most easterly point is a large compass rose, the Euroscope, set in the ground, which gives the direction and distance to various cities in Europe.
Belle Vue Park is the site of the Royal Naval Patrol Service memorial. The central depot for the service was in Lowestoft when it was mobilised in August 1939, on a site known as Sparrow's Nest adjacent to the memorial. The memorial has the names of the 2,385 members of the service who died in World War II.
Lowestoft Lighthouse, located to the north of the town centre, was built in 1874 and stands 16 metres high, at 37 metres above sea level. The light, which has a range of 23 nautical miles (43 km), was automated in 1975. It is the most easterly lighthouse in the United Kingdom.
The first two lighthouses in Lowestoft were built in 1609 on the foreshore and candlelit, to give warning of the dangerous sandbanks around the coast. These were the first lighthouses constructed by Trinity House. The Low Light was discontinued in 1706 following sea encroachment, but re-established in 1730 in a form that could be easily moved in response to further changes to the Stamford Channel and shoreline. It was discontinued in August 1923. The High Light tower was rebuilt as the present lighthouse in 1874 with the intention of displaying an electric light, but when opened paraffin oil was used instead; it was not until 1936 that it was electrified. The lighthouse, along with two cottages originally used by lighthouse keepers, is a Grade II listed building.
Lowestoft Lifeboat Station is located at the mouth of the outer harbour at the South Pier. The station is one of the oldest in the British Isles, founded in 1801, and is open to visitors throughout the year. The lifeboat is Patsy Knight, a Shannon class lifeboat which replaced the Tyne class boat Spirit of Lowestoft in 2014. A former Lowestoft lifeboat was used during the Dunkirk evacuation of British forces from France in 1940. The South Broads Lifeboat Station, an inland RNLI station, operated at Oulton Broad between 2001 and 2011.
Lowestoft Town Hall stands on the High Street. Various forms of local government have met or been based on this site since the establishment of a Town House and Chapel here in 1570. In 1698 a new Town House was built, incorporating a 'corn cross' on the ground floor with the meeting chamber and chapel above. This in turn was replaced by the present building, designed by architect J. L. Clemence, in 1857. The building houses the town clock and the curfew bell, which dates from 1644 and is rung each evening at 8 p. m. The building is a Grade II listed building.
Lowestoft railway station, originally Lowestoft Central Station, is centrally placed within the town, within walking distance of the beach and the town centre. It provides services to Ipswich on the East Suffolk Line and to Norwich on the Wherry Line. Both lines were originally part of the Great Eastern Railway and are operated by Abellio Greater Anglia. The suburb of Oulton Broad has two stations: Oulton Broad North station lies on the line to Norwich, while Oulton Broad South is on the line to Ipswich.
Lowestoft North railway station, originally operated by the Norfolk and Suffolk Joint Railway, closed in 1970 when the Lowestoft to Great Yarmouth line closed. The site is now occupied by Beeching Drive, a residential area.
Buses in Lowestoft are mainly operated by First Norfolk & Suffolk with Lowestoft bus station as the hub for routes. Buses link the town with Norwich and Great Yarmouth and provide public transport within the town and to surrounding villages. The Excel X1 route provides a link to Peterborough and National Express Coaches stop in Lowestoft on the route from London to Great Yarmouth.
The main A12 road to London passes through Carlton Colville, Pakefield and Kirkley in the southern area of Lowestoft, ending at the town's harbour bascule bridge. It connects to the A47 road here, which runs around the centre of town, before exiting the town along Great Yarmouth Road, crossing the county border into Norfolk, towards Great Yarmouth.
A second road from the town centre, the A1044, links the town to Oulton Broad, via its second road crossing over Lake Lothing, and connects with the A146 that links Lowestoft with Beccles and Norwich. Both bridges can be raised if vessels need to pass through the harbour and Lake Lothing, though this can cause congestion in the town and routes can become gridlocked. A third crossing of Lowestoft Harbour is proposed, but has yet to receive planning or funding; a southern relief road was built, which diverts traffic away from the seafront to help reduce congestion, while a proposed pedestrian and cycle bridge is planned to provide an alternative crossing alongside the Bascule Bridge.
Lowestoft's cycle network has routes focusing on linking areas to the town centre. Around 12 per cent of residents cycle to work and the town is considered to be "ideally suited" to cycling due to its relatively small size and flat landscape. Suffolk County Council is aiming to promote cycling by working with employers and schools and through funding a pedestrian and cycle bridge in the town centre.
Lowestoft has several primary and high schools, including four 11–16 high schools: The Benjamin Britten High School, Ormiston Denes Academy, East Point Academy and Pakefield School. After a reorganisation, all eight middle schools in the town closed in 2011 and Pakefield High School opened. Post-16 education is provided at Lowestoft Sixth Form College, which opened in September 2011 as part of the reorganisation, and East Coast College (Lowestoft Campus) which provides a range of academic and vocational courses.
East Coast College (Lowestoft Campus) provides a small range of higher education courses through an affiliation to University Campus Suffolk. Degrees are validated by the University of East Anglia and the University of Essex. The college also runs courses in boat building and some designed to support the offshore and maritime industries that are important employers in the town. Other adult education courses are run by the County Council from a base at the town library.
Sport and leisure
Lowestoft has sport clubs and facilities. Lowestoft Town Football Club plays at Crown Meadow and Kirkley & Pakefield Football Club plays at Walmer Road. Lowestoft Cricket Club plays at the Denes Oval sport ground. Other sport clubs include Waveney Gymnastics club and Rookery Park Golf Club.
The town's main leisure centre, the Waterlane Leisure Centre, was redeveloped at a cost of £8 million in 2010–2011. Facilities include a gym and climbing wall as well as a 25-metre swimming pool with a movable floor. Lowestoft has a number of parks and recreation grounds.
The Broads national park extends to Lowestoft on Oulton Broad. Water activities and boat tours can be taken here. Powerboat racing takes place throughout the summer period, mainly on Thursday evenings. Fixtures are organised by the Lowestoft and Oulton Broad Motor Boat Club and can attract up to 1500 spectators. The Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club has its club house in Lowestoft harbour.
The Elizabethan pamphleteer Thomas Nashe, one of the fathers of modern journalism and a primary source for the literary milieux of William Shakespeare, was born in Lowestoft in 1567. Robert Potter, poet and translator of Greek drama, was vicar of Lowestoft until 1804. The 19th-century writer and traveller George Borrow lived at Oulton Broad for many years and wrote most of his books there. Lieutenant General Sir Edwin Alderson also lived at Oulton Broad, on a houseboat, and died in 1927 at the since-demolished Royal Hotel in Lowestoft, where he had been staying for his last month.
Admiral Sir John Ashby, who commanded HMS Victory at the Battles of Barfleur and La Hogue in 1692, grew up in Suffolk and is buried in Lowestoft. A memorial is sited in St Margaret's Church. Admiral Sir Thomas Allin, a commander at the Battle of Lowestoft on 13 June 1665 was awarded a knighthood on 24 June and appointed an Admiral of the Blue squadron. He lived in the family house in High Street until his victories enabled him to move to a grander country home, Somerleyton Hall. Vice Admiral James Dacres fought in wars against America in the 19th century and was born in the town. Claud Castleton VC of the Australian Army was born in Kirkley and Captain Thomas Crisp V.C., Royal Navy officer, was born in the town – one of the town's main roads is named after him.
Robert William Hook, coxswain at RNLI Lowestoft from 1853 to 1883 and who has been credited with saving more than 600 lives during his career, with Lowestoft RNLI and with private companies. He was born in Lowestoft, lived and worked there all his life, and is buried in Lowestoft Cemetery.
Sir Samuel Morton Peto, bought Somerleyton Hall in 1843, and has one of the town's main roads named after him. He was influential in developing the town's railway links and harbour. Sir Christopher Cockerell, inventor of the hovercraft, lived at Oulton Broad, and tested craft in Somerleyton at Fritton Lake. Economist Sir Dennis Holme Robertson was born in Lowestoft in 1890. He was educated on a scholarship at Eton, and read Classics and Economics at Trinity College, Cambridge before teaching at Cambridge University, working closely with Keynes.
The philanthropist Howard Hollingsworth, co-founder of Bourne & Hollingsworth Department Store, visited Lowestoft in 1908 and later bought and renovated the burnt out Briar Clyffe House and grounds on Gunton Cliff. He became a Lowestoft benefactor, and on the death of his friend Nicholas Everitt, bought his estate at Oulton Broad and gave it to Lowestoft for a public park. He was made the first Freeman of the Borough of Lowestoft in 1929. Roland Aubrey Leighton, fiancé of Vera Brittain, immortalised in her WW1 autobiography Testament of Youth, lived with his family at Heather Cliff on Gunton Cliff.
The composer Benjamin Britten was born in Lowestoft in 1913. He was "without a doubt the greatest English classical composer of the last century" and "the only person of real celebrity to have emerged from darkest Lowestoft." The Benjamin Britten High School and a small shopping centre in the town are named after him.
The children's author and illustrator Michael Foreman was born in 1938 and spent his childhood years in Pakefield, where his mother kept a grocer's shop. He went to Pakefield Primary School, and played on Hilly Green – stories of which are recorded in his book War Boy. The author and illustrator James Mayhew lived in the town and studied at Lowestoft School of Art. Photographer George Davison was also born in Lowestoft. Jayne-Marie Barker, author of the Inspector Allen mysteries grew up at Oulton Broad and has used Lowestoft as an inspiration for her books. The artist Mark Burrell (born Lowestoft, 1957) has a studio in the town and frequently features Lowestoft's architectural landmarks and local people in his paintings. Burrell is also a leading member of the North Sea Magical Realists. Author Mark Dawson was born in the town.
The comedian and actor Karl Theobald was born in Lowestoft, as were BBC Radio 4 newsreader and television presenter Zeb Soanes and DJ and BBC radio presenter Tim Westwood. Three founder members of the rock band The Darkness were educated in Kirkley; some of their songs feature landmarks or stories from the area. Lil' Chris featured in Channel 4's Rock School programme filmed at Kirkley High School and went on to have a musical career. Leanne Mitchell, winner of the first series of The Voice UK, lives in the town.
Sportspeople associated with Lowestoft include former England football captain Terry Butcher, who was educated in Lowestoft. Others born there include former Ipswich Town goalkeeper Laurie Sivell, Norwich City defenders Paul Haylock and Daryl Sutch, former football player and manager Richard Money, New York Mets pitcher Les Rohr and Olympic Bronze medal-winning middleweight boxer Anthony Ogogo.
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