Fun for all the family at GritFest as historic beach village is honoured

Boys from the beach village messing around in the harbour. Picture: Courtesy of The Grit by Jack Ros

Boys from the beach village messing around in the harbour. Picture: Courtesy of The Grit by Jack Rose and Dean Parkin. - Credit: Archant

A historic beach village will be celebrated during a special event next month.

Boys from the beach village messing around in the harbour. Picture: Courtesy of The Grit by Jack Ros

Boys from the beach village messing around in the harbour. Picture: Courtesy of The Grit by Jack Rose and Dean Parkin. - Credit: Archant

As a heritage project puts The Grit back into Lowestoft and memories continue to be recalled, a fun-filled, free family day out will be showcased.

Sparrows Nest Gardens will host GritFest – a Grit Celebration Day – as Lowestoft's historic beach village is honoured on Sunday, May 27. The event is part of Poetry People's year-long community-driven words, film and music project about the town's almost forgotten fishing village, known as The Grit.

Over recent weeks the project – led by Lowestoft-born poet and writer Dean Parkin – has delivered workshops in schools and care homes. Mr Parkin, who co-wrote the book of The Grit with Jack Rose in 1997, will be GritFest master of ceremonies as he leads the most easterly sing-a-long and shares Grit stories and poems from the bandstand.

A busy programme of events will feature The Rogues Shanty Buoys, Dance East's mass workshop inspired by the Scots fisher girls, and 'News from the Nest' with BBC Radio 4's Zeb Soanes, who will broadcast headlines from The Grit's rich history. The park's Studio Theatre will be the home of Grit talks – as historian Ivan Bunn discusses the floods, Colin Bannister from CEFAS talks about the herring and novelist Dorothy Stewart discusses the fisher girls. Archive footage plus new Grit films, including Dean Parkin's tribute to Jack Rose, will also feature.

Scots Girls on the pickling plots in the 1930s. Picture: Courtesy of The Grit by Jack Rose and Dean

Scots Girls on the pickling plots in the 1930s. Picture: Courtesy of The Grit by Jack Rose and Dean Parkin. - Credit: Archant


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Among the GritFest marquee activities will be Grit knit, quilt making and much more with ropes, knots and boat-building demonstrations from the International Boat Training College, lighthouse tours and a Lowestoft Maritime Museum scavenger hunt. Local producers will also be offering a real flavour of The Grit at the event.

With the project supported by Heritage Lottery funding, in partnership with the Lowestoft and East Suffolk Maritime Museum and Lowestoft Rising, workshops have been held with 240 children from eight primary schools as well as residents from care homes and sheltered housing. A revised edition of the book of The Grit will be republished, while a new live show about the fishing village will be touring Suffolk.

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GritFest takes place from 10.30am until 4pm with entry and activities free.

A fishing village resident dressed for the carnival in the 1920s. Picture: Courtesy of The Grit by J

A fishing village resident dressed for the carnival in the 1920s. Picture: Courtesy of The Grit by Jack Rose and Dean Parkin. - Credit: Archant

Finding the tune for an old Grit song

When the book about The Grit was first published just over 20 years ago, Dean Parkin and Jack Rose came across many people who fondly remembered singing a song called 'Climbing Up the Walls'.

As part of this year's project, Mr Parkin has been working with Orwell Housing Association residents in five sheltered accommodation centres in and around Lowestoft, as well as 240 children in eight primary schools.

May Day celebration in Oulton Broad in the 1920s. Picture: Courtesy of Ivan Bunn.

May Day celebration in Oulton Broad in the 1920s. Picture: Courtesy of Ivan Bunn. - Credit: Archant

At Nelson Court he met Edith, 100, whose father was a fisherman. She recalled singing 'Climbing Up the Walls' and taking part in the May Day celebrations back in the 1920s.

Historian Ivan Bunn provided valuable background information on the May Day ritual, with versions of the 'Climbing Up the Walls' song having been taught to Year 5 children as part of The Grit project.

The project will also create video poems as well as a local history teaching resource for primary schools.

Boys from the beach village messing around in the harbour. Picture: Courtesy of The Grit by Jack Ros

Boys from the beach village messing around in the harbour. Picture: Courtesy of The Grit by Jack Rose and Dean Parkin. - Credit: Archant

Songs at Oulton Broad Primary School. Picture: Courtesy of Peter Spedding

Songs at Oulton Broad Primary School. Picture: Courtesy of Peter Spedding - Credit: Archant

The Poetry People team in schools - Becky Marshall-Potter, Dean Parkin and Naomi Jaffa. Picture: Cou

The Poetry People team in schools - Becky Marshall-Potter, Dean Parkin and Naomi Jaffa. Picture: Courtesy of Peter Spedding - Credit: Archant

Author Dean Parkin. Picture: Courtesy of the Poetry People

Author Dean Parkin. Picture: Courtesy of the Poetry People - Credit: Archant

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