Heritage Open Days are a massive success for town
PUBLISHED: 15:34 17 September 2018 | UPDATED: 11:26 18 September 2018
The Heritage Open Days Festival in Lowestoft "far exceeded all our expectations" according to organisers following two weekends of events, tours, and activities celebrating the town's heritage.
Lowestoft hosted the most events in Suffolk and was in the top 20 out of more than 800 towns taking part nationally with hundreds of people visiting the attractions over the weekends.
Old fishing huts, to the inner workings of the Port House, to the Town Hall and the Scores and much more was on show, with music from the Longshoremen and Diana Moore, poetry from Naomi Jaffa, highlighting the town’s heritage.
Organised by a group of volunteers over the last year, the event has grown from 17 buildings open to more than 70 events this year.
Visitor numbers have been estimated to be between 10,000 and 20,000 to all the events and open buildings.
Chair of the Heritage Open Day Lowestoft steering group, Paul King, said: “It was fantastic. It has far exceeded all our expectations.
“So many people have volunteered at the various buildings and got there at nine o’clock and stay till closing time.
“Some buildings that were only going to open certain days, because of the popularity, opened up extra days, especially Dunx Cycles.”
He added: “The heritage of the town is vitally important. It is demonstrated by how many people are interested in the town heritage and people currently up the High Street buying up the old properties and doing all they can to restore them and refurbish them.
“I want to thank Diana Moore for encouraging and organising much of the festival including the musical and cultural heritage aspects.
“As vice chair of the steering group she was instrumental in expanding and growing the festival. Her help and input was key to it being the success it was.
“I must also thank Bob Collis for manning the Port House and Mike Sims for encouraging a lot of buildings to take part.”
The Port House was open for the second part of the event, with aviation historian Bob Collis showing an exhibition of equipment and photographs from the Second World War.
The festival was praised by councillors, with Lowestoft Town councillor Alice Taylor, who helped with the open days at the Town Hall, saying the number of visitors was “overwhelming”.
She said: “The Lowestoft Town Hall was opened for the Heritage Open Days last weekend and we were overwhelmed with the visitors and the outpouring of affection for the building.
“It was very interesting to hear the views of the visitors about what should be done with the Town Hall and I hope they’ll contribute their thoughts when we have our official consultation.”
She added: “The Heritage Open Days festival was a resounding success for the community and the Lowestoft Town Council looks forward to next year’s festival, which I’m sure will build on this year’s achievements.
“Festivals like this are an important part of our High Street regeneration because we know that heritage regeneration here will lift the entire town.
“The LTC wants the Town Hall to be a landmark project and we support all community efforts that help us to that goal.
“I personally want to thank the hundred unpaid volunteers who opened their homes and business, entertained us, guided tours and manned stalls. You are all stars!”
Waveney District councillor Louise Gooch also praised the festival, and said it was “enlightening” to explore the Pakefield Lighthouse, described as ‘forgotten’ by organiser.
The lighthouse, which is situated on the cliffs near Pontins, is threatened by coastal erosion but still serves the community by watching out for vessels and swimmers in distress.
She said: “I was delighted to see the preservation of this small part of our maritime heritage. It is a charming spot with the most arresting views of the beaches and coast.
“Perhaps I should have known but I was not aware that it is run by a charity.
She added: “It was enlightening to learn of the work of the station and something of the personal stories and professional backgrounds of those that volunteer there for Pakefield Coastwatch.
“Ken and John certainly gave the impression of being safe pairs of hands to entrust our safety to.”
The Heritage Open Days Festival will return to Lowestoft in 2019.