'Landmark' former Tuttles store could be set for new lease of life

The former Tuttles building Lowestoft

The former Tuttles building in Lowestoft in 1972. - Credit: Archant

It was renowned as one of Lowestoft's most prominent buildings.

And now a "popular landmark" that dates back to the late 1880s could be set for a new lease of life.

The Joseph Conrad, in Station Square, Lowestoft. Picture: Contributed

The Joseph Conrad, in Station Square, Lowestoft. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

A project has been earmarked to revive part of the former Tuttles Department Store building on the approach to Lowestoft town centre.

The distinctive former department store on Station Square was a popular destination for shoppers from across town, north Suffolk and beyond.

Suffolk Road, Station Square Lowestoft in the 1950.

Suffolk Road, Station Square Lowestoft in 1950. Shows the former Tuttles building. - Credit: John Holmes, My Lowestoft Scrapbook

Last week Historic England Commissioners paid a special visit to the town to see how important heritage sites are being restored and rejuvenated.

With plans to revamp Lowestoft's heritage on display, the Commissioners toured the London Road, Lowestoft High Street Heritage Action Zone - which includes the former Tuttles Department Store building and the Grade II listed former Post Office, both of which are planned for restoration and revival.

Historic England Commissioners London Road, Lowestoft High Street Heritage Action Zone

Historic England Commissioners exploring the London Road, Lowestoft High Street Heritage Action Zone. - Credit: Kate Ellis/East Suffolk Council

This week, an East Suffolk Council spokesman said: “Concept designs are being developed with the owners of Tuttles for the first and second floor windows to the central bay of the building.

Former Tuttles building in Station Square Lowestoft

The former Tuttles building in Station Square, Lowestoft in 2001. - Credit: Archant library

"The London Road, Lowestoft High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) is supporting the building owner and is offering support through the conservation grant scheme to move this project forward.

"The restoration works being undertaken through the HSHAZ for the former Post Office will help to improve the condition and appearance of the building whilst restoring its historic character.

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"It will include work to fix the roof, repair the windows, carry out conservation of stonework on the façade and reconfigure the ground floor windows to restore the entrance to the central bay of the building, as per the original design.

"This will incorporate repositioning the existing ramp which would greatly improve the appearance of the building.

“These repairs will be funded through the HSHAZ financed by Historic England and East Suffolk Council, delivered in partnership with Lowestoft Town Council and East Suffolk Building Preservation Trust."

History

In the 19th Century, much of the townscape on the approach to Lowestoft was dominated by the privately-owned Grove Estate and St Margaret’s Villa Estate.

With each described as comprising "a large house set within extensive gardens," the western boundary had a fronting
onto London Road North (Lowestoft town centre) that was said to have given "the road a gentrified, picturesque feel."

After the Grove Estate was sold in 1884, the St Margaret’s Villa Estate was also sold.

According to the South Lowestoft Conservation Area research, development of this land "was extremely rapid" with commercial and residential properties built across the entire site by 1905.

Tuttles store Lowestoft

The exterior of the former Tuttles store in Lowestoft. - Credit: Archant library

It says: "One of the first buildings constructed on the former Grove Estate was Ebenezer Tuttle’s Bon Marche department store on the corner of Suffolk Road in 1888, followed in 1891 by the Turret Buildings - later known as Tuttle’s Corner - which was designed by Thomas Porter for Frederick Savage.

"It comprised three separate residences with shops on the ground floor and became a popular landmark within the town."

The former Tuttles building Lowestoft

The former Tuttles building, Lowestoft in 2011. - Credit: Archant

With the site acquired by Messrs H Tuttle and Son for a store in 1886, the original Tuttles store opened in 1888 with the larger extension added in 1893.

A fire broke inside Lowestoft department store Tuttles on July 10 1964.

A fire broke inside Lowestoft department store Tuttles on July 10 1964. - Credit: Archant

An ornamental tower which once graced the south-west corner was lost through fire.

Joseph Conrad, Lowestoft Pictures: MICK HOWES

Joseph Conrad, Lowestoft Pictures: MICK HOWES - Credit: Archant

Today, popular pub The Joseph Conrad is situated on the corner of Station Square and Waveney Road at 18–32 Station Square, Lowestoft.

Henry Hall was found by two members of the public, who alerted staff at the Joseph Conrad pub in Lowestoft.

Henry Hall was found by two members of the public, who alerted staff at the Joseph Conrad pub in Lowestoft. - Credit: Archant

The premises were refurbished by J D Wetherspoon in July 2013.

The former Tuttles Corner cafe. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

The former Tuttles Corner cafe. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

It is situated on the area known locally as “Tuttles Corner”, after the Tuttles Bon Marche department store, which had its base here from the late 19th century until its closure in 1981.

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