Family research sparks memories of forgotten fishing village 'The Grit'

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

It was once a historic, bustling part of Lowestoft that was home to hundreds of people in a close knit community.

Lowestoft’s almost forgotten fishing village - known as The Grit - included a self-sufficient community, which was home to 2,500 people, 13 pubs, three schools, two churches, shops and cafés.

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

And now further memories of the long-vanished Beach Village in Lowestoft - which featured a community of fishermen, net-makers and their families - have been recalled.

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The seafront village sprung up in the first half of the 19th century as Lowestoft's fishing industry started to thrive.

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

But combined with the Second World War and the declining fishing industry, the Beach Village was badly hit by the 1953 floods as the worst flooding disaster of the century affected the area and led to The Grit's demise.

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Most of the area was demolished in 1955 as part of a council clearance, paving the way for new industries to be moved into the area, including Birds Eye.

By the late 1960s, only a few houses remained with the last building to be demolished being the Rising Sun pub in 1968.

The GritFest - a celebration of Lowestoft's beach village. The Rising Sun pub in Lowestoft. Pictures

The GritFest - a celebration of Lowestoft's beach village. The Rising Sun pub in Lowestoft. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Most Read

Now, Julia Perry, of Norwich-based family history researchers Purple Trees, has sought to spread awareness about the historic village after coming across it while researching a Lowestoft family line.

She said: "I am doing the family tree of Heather Swatman, nee Harvey.

"While researching her tree I discovered her second great-grandfather was living in 'The Beach' in the 1841 and 1851 census.

"After contacting Heather and discussing this address, she told me there was a village within Lowestoft called 'The Beach', so I set about researching this discovery and found photos and information.

"Having been born and brought up in Bradwell, not far from Lowestoft, I was amazed to read about this fascinating place with such a wealth of history, especially for the local fishing industry."

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher

'The Grit' was once a booming beach village. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Lowestoft-born poet and writer Dean Parkin co-wrote 'The Grit: The Story of Lowestoft's fishing village' with fisherman, lifeboatman and popular historian Jack Rose in 1997.

It inspired the GritFest festival that was held in 2018, as hundreds of people turned out to honour Lowestoft’s historic beach village in Sparrows Nest Gardens as part of a Poetry People project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A new revised edition of The Grit was published in 2019.