A new mural has been unveiled at Lowestoft Station to commemorate 175 years of the arrival of the railway in the town.
The artwork depicts a timeline of events since the Norwich – Lowestoft ‘Wherry Lines’ opened on May 3, 1847, outlining major changes and historical events influenced by the railway.
The mural has been installed by the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership (CRP) and the Lowestoft Central Project, who in recent years have worked with Greater Anglia to rejuvenate and restore the station, with major initiatives including the creation of an exhibition space inside the former parcels office and the opening of a new tourist information office.
Martin Halliday, community rail development officer for the Wherry Lines CRP, said: “We were pleased to create this special timeline marking 175 years of railway history here in Lowestoft.
“The arrival of the railway brought enormous growth and prosperity to the town, with the expansion of the port and creation of a Victorian resort. 175 years on and the railway still plays an integral role in the town’s economy, enabling greater connectivity for residents and visitors, with the railway station itself being situated at the very heart of the community it serves.”
The timeline begins in 1844, when Sir Samuel Morton Peto, who resided at nearby Somerleyton Hall, purchased Lowestoft Harbour and announced plans to construct a railway from Reedham. Following Parliamentary approval, construction started in 1846 with the line opening to goods traffic on May 3, 1847, with passenger services commencing a couple of months later on July 1.
After the arrival of the railway the town grew considerably, attracting major industry in addition to trading links via the port to Europe. Morton Peto also created a fashionable resort to the south of the harbour. The initial route to Norwich was followed in 1859 by a line south to Ipswich and in 1903, a direct route to Great Yarmouth.
Greater Anglia’s head of corporate affairs, Jonathan Denby, said: “After 175 years the Norwich to Lowestoft line continues to go from strength to strength, benefitting from the introduction of our high quality, brand new trains; regular and frequent services on both the lines to Norwich and Ipswich and first rate performance, with punctuality consistently over 95% all year around. Add in improvements to station facilities and recent re-signalling upgrades and the railway is well placed to continue to serve the community with an excellent service, connecting people to work, social and leisure opportunities.
“We’re grateful for the ongoing support of the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership, our amazing team of station adopter volunteers and other local partners in ensuring a bright future for the railways in Lowestoft, providing great connectivity and facilities for the local community.”
Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney who unveiled the mural, added: “It is important to mark the 175th anniversary of the railway coming to Lowestoft, as it has played such an important role in the town’s history.
“Special thanks are due to the community rail partnership and the Lowestoft Central Project for their tireless work in renovating and refurbishing the station, which has such an illustrious past, including the welcoming of 500 Kindertransport refugees in 1938 and saying a temporary farewell to 3,000 school aged evacuees two years later.
“It was a privilege to help unveil the timeline recording these and other important milestones over the past 175 years and to look forward to an exciting future.”