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History of Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK

This is where we let you know about Lowestoft's interesting history, from the early formation of the town to Lowestoft's recent history. Lowestoft really does have a very rich and entertaining past so why not take a little time to find out a wee bit more about the historic town of Lowestoft in Suffolk, UK

Lowestoft is said to come from toft (a Viking word for "homestead"') and Loth or Lowe (a Viking male name). The town's name has been spelled variously: Lothnwistoft, Lestoffe, Laistoe, Loystoft, Laystoft. An alternative derivation of the name which is taught in local schools is that it is not an Anglo-Saxon name at all, but a derivation from consonantal shift, from a settlement prior to the agricultural village, founded by John Edward Hloover. Over a period of three centuries, the original name of "Hloover's Toft" was contracted to "Lowestoft".

In the Domesday Book, Lowestoft is described as a small agricultural village of 20 families, or about 100 people. Rent for the land was paid to the landowner Hugh de Montfort in herrings.

In the Middle Ages, Lowestoft developed into a fishing port. Great Yarmouth saw Lowestoft as a rival and tried to push it out of the herring trade.

The rivalry has never completely gone away - in the English Civil War (1642 - 1651) Yarmouth took the side of Parliament and Lowestoft took the Royalist side, possibly so that co-operation would not be required. However this was not taken very seriously, as Lowestoft's defences consisted of a rope across the High Street and a single, unmanned, unloaded cannon.

In the 1665, the first battle of the Second Dutch War was the Battle of Lowestoft near the town.

During the 1790s, Lowestoft's fishing community established their own "Beach Village", living in upturned boats.

In the 19th century, the arrival of Sir Samuel Morton Peto brought about a huge change in Lowestoft's fortunes. Peto started by building a rail link between Lowestoft and Norwich, and links with other town soon followed. He developed the harbour and provided mooring for 1,000 boats. This gave a boost to trade with the Continent. He also established Lowestoft as a flourishing seaside holiday resort.

During the Second World War the town was used as a navigation point by German bombers. As a result it was the most heavily bombed town per head of population in the UK. Old mines and bombs are still dredged up and have been hazardous to shipping.

Until the mid 1960's fishing was Lowestoft's main industry. Fleets comprised drifters and trawlers, with the drifters primarily targeting herring while the trawlers caught cod, plaice, skate and haddock, etc. By the mid 1960's the catches were greatly diminishing, particularly the herring. Consequently the drifter fleet disappeared and many of the trawlers were adapted to work as service ships for the newly created North Sea oil rigs. By the end of the twentieth century the fishing industry was, to all intents and purposes, dead. However, a large fisheries research centre which is a part of Defra is still located in south Lowestoft.

The Eastern Coach Works was another big employer and in the 1960's it was a regular occurrence to see a bare bus chassis being driven through the town to the coach works by a goggled driver. Installing the bus's super structure, body work and seats was the job of Eastern Coach Works. Both double deck and single deck buses were built there and sent all over the country. Sadly, this business has also disappeared.

Brooke Marine and Richards shipbuilding companies who together employed over a thousand men also went out of business at about the same time.

Details of Lowestoft's recent history, in words and photographs, can be found in the many books written by Jack Rose.

Source taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowestoft

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