The main roof of Lowestoft Station was removed in 1992, leaving a concourse surrounded by derelict or unused buildings, cut off from the town centre by closed doorways. What remained of the structure and its location showed huge potential to be explored, leading to the formation of the Lowestoft Central Project group in 2017. The aims of the group were to improve facilities, reduce antisocial behaviour, find new use for redundant buildings and increase community involvement at the station.
A working group was formed with representation from station adopters, the East Suffolk Lines and Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnerships, Greater Anglia, Network Rail, Suffolk County Council, the constituency MP, and the local Business Improvement District, and various other local partners, such as Lowestoft Town Council, Lowestoft Tourism Group, and Lowestoft in Bloom.
Since 2018, the group have made significant progress on a number of projects, securing and clearing a large area of land to the south of the station, installing bespoke heritage features and lighting, adding new parking bays, creating information boards featuring maps and tourist guides, revamping all station signage, and organising floral displays.
A separate community interest company, Station Regeneration East, was established to take on the formal lease, on a peppercorn rent, for the station’s old parcels office, which had been left unused and derelict for more than 30 years. With the CRP officer project-managing the build, alongside additional support from The Railway Heritage Trust, the group overcame numerous obstacles and delays to work together to redevelop the 170-year-old industrial building into a modern and spacious venue for public use. The building was officially opened as Lowestoft’s new Community Exhibition Space this summer.
Thanks to more than 1,000 hours of volunteer time, the partnership has successfully re-connected the station to the town centre and created an events space placing it at the heart of the community. Anti-social behaviour at the station has also been reduced, and the site is now an asset for people to take pride in.
Community rail development officer Martin Halliday said: “Lowestoft Station is no longer a blot on the local landscape, and provides tangible evidence of the benefits of both community rail and the importance of partnership working. Both the station concourse and new exhibition space are now able to host activities and events, and the team running the parcels office have been inundated with requests for its use.”