Memories of Beach Village in Lowestoft

IT was once a bustling part of Lowestoft; a home to a close-knit community of fishermen, net-makers and their families.

And last weekend it was the talk of the town once more as hundreds of people gathered at Christ Church in Whapload Road for a reunion service – to reminisce about the long-vanished Beach Village.

The seafront village sprung up in the first half of the 19th century as Lowestoft's fishing industry started to thrive and at its height about 2,500 people lived in about 500 homes. It also had 13 pubs and its own brewery.

In 1953, the village felt the full force of the North Sea when it was hit by the worst flooding disaster of the century and two years later it was demolished as part of a council slum clearance, paving the way for industry to be moved to the area, including Birds Eye.

The last building to be demolished was the Rising Sun pub, razed in 1968.

The community was remembered during Sunday's church service with voices from the past recalling school days, war-time bombs and the floods of 1953. The voice of Millie Garrod, who died in November 2009 at the age of 90, was among those heard by the congregation.

She recalled her time at school and described how the area was bombed during the second world war.

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Her young daughter was lucky not to have been injured or killed when a bomb fell near their home.

The young girl had got out of bed and come downstairs to see her mother - thereby avoiding the debris that fell on her bed.

Christ Church's vicar the Rev Matthew Payne welcomed the congregation and the service was led by reader Trevor Houghton.

Mr Houghton carried out much of the research into the history of the area, and after the service he said memories of the community remained strong. He told the Journal: 'There are a lot of people still alive who want to remember the Beach Village. There was a lot of love within the community. Most of them were not very well off, but people helped each other.'

'I think it is important to preserve the memories and history and learn lessons from it.'

Before the reunion service, people were invited to the Heritage Workshop Centre in Rant Score to see a model of the Beach Village and afterwards to enjoy an exhibition and refreshments in the church hall.

l Pictured is a large-scale model of the old Beach Village in the Heritage Workshop Centre, and the Beach Village in 1958.