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Community rail to provide key support for Lowestoft heritage festival

Lowestoft Signal Box enjoyed many visitors as part of Heritage Open Days in 2019 (image | Network Rail)

One of the country’s largest and most successful free to enjoy heritage festivals will return to Lowestoft in September and will once again see the railway as a key partner.

Heritage Open Days will run from September 10 – 19 with this year’s national theme ‘Edible England’, enabling organisers to focus on the important contribution the town has, and continues to make in feeding the nation.

First staged in 1994, Heritage Open Days have grown significantly with Lowestoft’s contribution to the 2019 festival placed in the top ten nationally for the volume of activities available to the public. In March, Diana Moore succeeded Paul King as chair of Lowestoft’s steering group and is hugely excited by this year’s events. Diana said; “This year’s theme, ‘Edible England’, offers great opportunities to celebrate our town’s particular contribution to history. From our natural industries like fishing and farming, our industries that preserve food through smoking, canning and freezing, through to our seaside treats, confectionery and home-grown recipes, I’m looking forward to a real celebration of what we do best – and some taste-testing thrown in.” 

Speaking on behalf of the volunteer steering group, Diana also paid tribute to outgoing chair, Paul King; “We owe Paul a huge debt of gratitude for his unstinting work to build and mould Lowestoft’s Heritage Open Days into the nationally-recognised success that it has become.”

Over the last two centuries the town has played an integral role in feeding the nation. This year organisers are planning to celebrate this illustrious history and the numerous iconic brands manufactured in the town, from the pioneering Maconochie Brothers who perfected the canning process and went on to supply rations for British troops, the Waveney range of food manufactured for the Cooperative Wholesale Society and other much-loved brands such as Beecham, Morton, Ross and Birds Eye with the majority of goods transported across the country by rail. In addition, smaller, more local food producers both past and present will feature within the festival including breweries, bakeries and dairies.

The return of a full-scale event this year is seen as a huge boost to tourism, after a paired back version was staged in 2020 due to the Covid 19 Pandemic. Last December, the 2019 event was recognised nationally, winning first prize in the Heritage and Tourism category at the prestigious Community Rail Awards. During 2019, an estimated 15,000 people took part with a key highlight being a collaboration between the festival and Network Rail, the Lowestoft Central Project and the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership, which saw numerous events to be staged at the town’s railway station and a rare chance to see behind the scenes of Lowestoft Signal Box. Once again, this years festival will be supported by the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership and the Lowestoft Central Project, with the Community Rail facilities housed at Greater Anglia’s Lowestoft Railway Station playing an integral role.

This year, organisers are hoping even more businesses, homeowners and organisations will take part and registering can be done easily online at  Although the national deadline for registration is August 1, the team behind the Lowestoft’s events are hoping people will register early, to be guaranteed inclusion within this-years advanced publicity.

Diana added: “The last fully staged festival in 2019 was hugely popular. Many of the activities and exhibits were full to capacity with additional tours and activities arranged to cope with demand. By registering early, it will allow us to include as many activities as possible within our advanced publicity and allow the team of volunteers behind the events to offer advice, support and where appropriate, advance ticketing.”

For further information, help or advice contact the local Heritage Open Days team by email at .