It is a historic sign that welcomed tens of thousands of visitors to a coastal town.

And now, decades after being removed, a rare piece of railway history has made a welcome return home.

The double-sided enamel British Railways platform sign - that reads Lowestoft Central and dates back to the late 1940s or early 1950s - was one of a pair as they greeted people to the Suffolk town.

Lowestoft Journal: One of the station's 'Running In Boards' signs in situ on a platform at Lowestoft. Picture: Dave Pearce Departures CollectionOne of the station's 'Running In Boards' signs in situ on a platform at Lowestoft. Picture: Dave Pearce Departures Collection (Image: Dave Pearce Departures Collection)

But after being removed as part of a modernisation scheme in the early 1990s, the giant original piece of railway heritage has now returned to Lowestoft station - after being discovered at an auction.

More than 30 years on, it was discovered as part of a sale at Lowestoft Auction Rooms and purchased by railway manager and industry sign collector James Steward.

Mr Steward has now loaned the sign to the Lowestoft Central Project and Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership - as it is now proudly placed on public display in a window of the station's restored Parcels Office Exhibition Space.

Known in the industry as a ‘Running in Board’, original blue and white signs are highly sought after.

Following the public sale in November, auctioneer Stephen Ardley asked what would happen to the sign, and the reply that it would "go on display at Lowestoft station" received a huge round of applause.

Mr Steward said: "I am pleased to have secured this authentic station sign for the town.

"Often rare signage such as this goes abroad or into private collections.

"Therefore, through the work of the Lowestoft Central Project and Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership, I am pleased to enable it to be viewed once again in its original home at Lowestoft station."


Expressing delight, Community Rail Development Officer for the Wherry Lines, Martin Halliday, said: "We are delighted to have worked with James to enable this historic item from Lowestoft railway station to return home.

"The sign is enormous and being double sided, we have installed it in one of the Parcels Office windows enabling the public to see it from both inside and out."

Lowestoft Central Project director Jacqui Dale added: "Lowestoft station already boasts the largest original enamel sign in the country, still proudly displayed in its original location on the front of the building.

Lowestoft Journal: Engineers check Lowestoft’s iconic 1950s enamel sign at Lowestoft rail station.

"Whilst we are fighting hard to retain this iconic piece of railway heritage, it is a terrific boost to see another key part of the town’s considerable railway history back where it belongs."


Lowestoft station was built in 1855, seven years after the railway first reached the town from Norwich in 1847.

In 1859, a second route opened via Beccles to Ipswich and in 1903 the station name changed from Lowestoft to Lowestoft Central when a direct line to Great Yarmouth opened with a second station built at Lowestoft North.

When the Yarmouth line closed in 1970, the station reverted to its original name of Lowestoft.

However it still proudly displays its original Lowestoft Central enamel name sign on its eastern elevation.