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About the Lowestoft Journal

On Saturday, July 26, 1873, on the front page of the first edition of the Lowestoft Weekly Journal, Mr A Stebbings, wrote from his publishing office in High Street:

"The proprietors of the People's Weekly Journal, the circulation of which in Lowestoft and its district far exceeds that of any other local newspaper, have, in order to give Lowestoft the prominence which its population and importance merit, determined that on and after this day the weekly journal circulated in the district shall bear the title of The Lowestoft Weekly Journal.

"The reports of local news will be more complete than ever. Every attention will be paid to questions which have special interest to the visitors, inhabitants and traders of Lowestoft."

That first edition was a modest eight broadsheet pages. Now, 133 years and around 6600 editions later it has evolved into The Journal as it is today - tabloid, full colour, with an average 80 pages and on occasions over 100... but still with the same ethos of providing a comprehensive coverage of local news and investigative issues of interest to visitors and inhabitants alike.

The People's Weekly Journal had been the most popular of the four or five local weekly papers then available in Lowestoft, and today's Journal has far outlived them all, under the careful guidance of only seven editors.

In the years since 1873 the population of Lowestoft has grown from 15,000 to over 60,000. Much has changed in that time. For many years the town relied on its two seasonal industries - holidays and herring - which led to widespread unemployment for the rest of the year and real poverty when either season failed, which happened all too frequently.

In 1950 Lowestoft was officially described as a blackspot for unemployment and was the subject of a debate in Parliament. But in the 1960s, as the herring industry continued to decline, the modern harvest of the North Sea, oil and gas, brought Lowestoft more prosperity than at any time in its history, with many companies linked to offshore exploration and the construction of installations springing up.

Now that industry is past its peak, though it continues to sustain businesses - the 1990s and the first part of the 21st century have seen pockets of deprivation return to Lowestoft, and it contains four of the most deprived wards in Suffolk. But again, new hope beckons - Lowestoft is set to become the national centre of excellence for renewable energy, particularly windpower, with the offshore renewable energy centre soon to be built near Ness Point.

And tourism is its other key industry, with the resort being marketed as Britain's most easterly point and as the Sunrise Coast. Its figurehead attractions include the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival, something not even dreamed about in the days in which The Journal was founded.

True to Mr Stebbings' declaration, The Journal has faithfully recorded 133 years of growth and change and the activities of the town and district - civil, business, sporting and social, and given the opportunity for free discussion of matters of public importance.

The history of the town, its joys and disaster, its changing activities and the whole changing mode of life, can be found in its pages. And The Journal itself has altered to reflect those changes, taking on its tabloid format in the 1980s.

What will not change is its honest, impartial and responsible reporting in order to keep the public informed, playing its part in helping to ensure that the town is not only a more prosperous place, but a more pleasant one in which to live.

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