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How you can help support ‘a real treasure trove’ of history

PUBLISHED: 13:05 26 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:07 28 February 2019

Robert Jarvis, curator at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum. Pictures; Mark Boggis

Robert Jarvis, curator at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum. Pictures; Mark Boggis

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It is a “hidden gem” that showcases a range of artefacts, documents and photographs from the First and Second World Wars.

The memorial that used to be based at the former St John's Church, now appears at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum. Pictures; Mark BoggisThe memorial that used to be based at the former St John's Church, now appears at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum. Pictures; Mark Boggis

And with 2019 marking the 80th anniversary of the start of the Second World War, a Lowestoft museum is calling on the community for support.

The Lowestoft War Memorial Museum is housed in the Second World War headquarters of the Royal Naval Patrol Service in Sparrow’s Nest Gardens.

The chapel at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum. Pictures; Mark BoggisThe chapel at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum. Pictures; Mark Boggis

It opened in 1995 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of VE day and pays a fitting tribute to the people of Lowestoft who lost their lives during the two world wars.

Dedicated to those who served during the conflicts, not only does the museum show how local men and women fought in the wars, it also details how Lowestoft was targeted as the town played an important role in defending the country.

Some of the photographs and displays at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum. Pictures; Mark BoggisSome of the photographs and displays at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum. Pictures; Mark Boggis

And now as the museum prepares for the 80th anniversary of the start of the Second World War its curator has issued a plea for volunteers to come forward to help raise its profile across the area and keep the museum open to the public.

Robert Jarvis has been curator and an active museum volunteer since it was opened by well known historian Jack Rose in 1995.

Robert Jarvis, curator at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum, with a headstone of the workers that used to be based at the former Morton's/Co-op Factory in Lowestoft who died. Pictures; Mark BoggisRobert Jarvis, curator at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum, with a headstone of the workers that used to be based at the former Morton's/Co-op Factory in Lowestoft who died. Pictures; Mark Boggis

Back then the museum had about a dozen volunteers, including Mr Jarvis’ mother Jane. But now with just a core group of three volunteers a call for support has gone out ahead of the museum reopening at Easter.

Mr Jarvis, 43, said: “It is making people aware we are here, what we do, and also if anyone is able to help us out.

Robert Jarvis, curator at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum. Pictures; Mark BoggisRobert Jarvis, curator at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum. Pictures; Mark Boggis

“This year is quite an important anniversary and we want to go to as many events as possible – such as country fairs and fetes – to promote the museum.

“But we need more volunteers if we are to attend these events and also keep the museum open at the same time.”

A wooden toy, made by Italian prisoners of war, on display at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum. Pictures; Mark BoggisA wooden toy, made by Italian prisoners of war, on display at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum. Pictures; Mark Boggis

Mr Jarvis added: “This museum is a memorial to the people of Lowestoft, people who lived here or served here during the world wars.

“We have become a depository for many items – a real treasure trove of local history and artefacts – and if we were not here these important memories and keepsakes would be thrown out, forgotten and lost forever.

Robert Jarvis, curator at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum, by one of the displays. Pictures; Mark BoggisRobert Jarvis, curator at the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum, by one of the displays. Pictures; Mark Boggis

“I don’t think there are many places like this across the country, but a lot of people still don’t know about this hidden gem.”

Inside the museum

There are numerous displays, exhibits and photographs inside Lowestoft War Memorial Museum.

With a small chapel dedicated to “all those who served in and from Lowestoft and lost their lives” there is also a roll of honour for civilians killed by enemy action in Lowestoft during both world wars.

Many displays relate to the town’s wartime defences and how Lowestoft and its population was devastated by the destruction caused by enemy bombing.

Other artefacts and photographs tell the stories of the servicemen and women who either served in, or who came from, Lowestoft

Among the exhibition rooms is a Battle Of Britain Room, as well as displays on children from Lowestoft who were evacuated to Derbyshire after 1940.

Mr Jarvis said: “We have a wooden toy that was made by a prisoner of war housed at Ellough airfield and we have referenced more than 1,000 names of people who died in both wars from the town or who died in Lowestoft.”

‘We need help’

Lowestoft War Memorial Museum will be open three days a week - on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays - from Easter.

Mr Jarvis said: “We have not opened more regularly than that now for more than 10 years and ideally to pay the bills, we need to be able to open four or five days a week.

“We need help.

“We need more people to help with the events, particularly those that may have transport to assist us in taking equipment and attending events. If people are interested in meeting the public, then please come in and help out.

“We are still getting people coming in here, who did not know we were here – and that includes people from Lowestoft who are unaware that this museum exists.

“If we could open extra weekdays that would be helpful as we only have the core three volunteers.”

Anyone interested in being a volunteer, who must be over 18, should email warmemorialmuseum@btinternet.com or call 01502 517950.

The museum is also available to school and out of hours group bookings by prior arrangement.

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