Spotlight on fishing forebears in Lowestoft

THE latest book by Lowestoft historian John Holmes recalls the huge debt the town owes to the fishing industry and the men and women who worked in it.

Old Lowestoft by John Holmes is the first of at least three volumes that will be looking at various subjects from Lowestoft's past.

'It is as a result of the fishing industry that Lowestoft became a prosperous town and premier holiday resort.

'That is why I have included various accounts about the fishing industry and those employed in it,' said Mr Holmes.

The accounts covered in the book include an edited version of the History of Lowestoft, by Edmund Gillingwater.

During the 18th century, Lowestoft was recognised as a fine place to live.

'The town is much admired for its fine air, and its remarkably pleasant and healthy situation, which must contribute to the longevity of its inhabitants.

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'In 1755, died here, Thomas Cockrum, aged 103 years; in 1784, Silvester Manclarke, aged 107 years; and in 1788, John Wilkerson, aged 96,' is a statement recalled.

Another fascinating chapter in the book recalls the memoirs of skipper George William Keable.

Mr Keable, a former drifter skipper gives a first-hand insight into what life was like in the late 1880s.

He recalls that one of the 'most heavist gales' he experience was in April 1889 when he was skipper of Integrity (LT 457).

'We were fishing in the Irish Channel about 40 miles north from the longships (Landsend) and the wind backed to south increasing to gale force with heavy rain.

'By 8pm the boat was trembling from stem to stern with lee rail under and green water on her deck.

'We were to experience a number of sudden changes of wind direction and mountainous seas before we finally entered Newlyn Harbour in no worse condition that when we left,' he writes.

Mr Holmes' book also looks at life 'down the Beach Village', where many of those employed in the fishing industry lived and where life was particularly tough for a number of families.

There is also an account of the Harvest of the Sea Service in 1947 conducted by the Rector of St Margaret's Church, Canon R L Whytehead.

The service was broadcast on the radio and pays tribute to the courage and sacrifice of members of the Royal Naval Patrol Service during the second world war.

The book also includes many personal memories of life in Lowestoft .

Old Lowestoft by John Holmes is �2.50 from Waterstone's of Lowestoft, and the Spar Shop and Knight Vision at Pakefield.

All income from the sale of the book will go to local charities, worthy causes and the proposed new palliative care unit at the James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston.