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New light shed on that shelter

PUBLISHED: 11:21 02 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:17 05 July 2010

BACK in 2005 a debate raged about the origins of one of Lowestoft's most famous old landmarks. Four years on, a historian believes he has helped to throw more light on the history of the brick and tile shelter that used to stand proudly on Royal Plain.

BACK in 2005 a debate raged about the origins of one of Lowestoft's most famous old landmarks. Four years on, a historian believes he has helped to throw more light on the history of the brick and tile shelter that used to stand proudly on Royal Plain.

In February 2005, news that the 27½-tonne shelter that had occupied the plain for six decades was moving to the East Anglia Transport Museum at Carlton Colville as part of the Waveney Sunrise Scheme started the debate on its history.

Museum secretary Ken Blacker believed it was originally built for trams that ran along London Road South, before being moved to Royal Plain to be used as a bus stop for more than 60 years.

This idea was challenged, with historian John Holmes, of Lowestoft, wondering whether it was the same structure as the tram shelter. Then Ken Ward, of Blundeston, suggested it was briefly a tram shelter in Pier Terrace before being moved when trams ceased to run in the town from 1931.

“Some of us thought that the shelter had been built on the site of the bus stop beside the Royal Plain and others believed that it had been moved there from the front of the Harbour Hotel,” said Mr Holmes.

Now, the historian is reigniting the debate after finding a press cutting dated Saturday, June 17, 1939.

It stated: “Much interest has been aroused this week by the shifting of the tiled brick shelter at the Pier Terrace bus stop. Since the introduction of the one-way traffic system on the south side of the bridge the shelter has not been of use and it has been shifted now to the Royal Plain.

“The shelter, which is estimated to weigh 15 tons, is on a concrete foundation and this was excavated and a grille of steel placed underneath.

“The building was then jacked up at each corner and old railway lines and rollers slid underneath. Then a steam-roller towed the shelter to its new position.”

Commenting on his discovery Mr Holmes said: “I never believed that this shelter was ever used by passengers waiting for a tram.” He believes the original tram stop was replaced after 1931 by a new shelter that was built to accommodate queuing bus passengers when London Road South was a two-way road.

“Many of us will recall using the bus shelter when it was in its new location and the buses went through Parade Road North towards St John's Church and then up London Road South to Pakefield tram terminus as it continued to be called,” he said.

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