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Station to host special celebration of Town’s Co-operative Heritage

The Community Rail facilities at Lowestoft Railway Station will host a special celebration of the town’s Co-operative heritage in October with memories of the former CWS Canning Factory that once employed over 1000 people in the town.

Rail connected Riverside Rd near CWS Factory Courtesy Russell Walker

Originally planned as part of the September Heritage Open Day’s festival, the event was postponed following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

‘Prepared by the Shore, Sold by the Store’ will feature a special exhibition, film screenings, memorabilia and lots of memories, and will now run from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 15 October, in the Parcels Office Exhibition Space at Lowestoft railway station.

Organised by the Central England Co-operative’s Membership & Community Council, the day is a chance to celebrate and reminisce about the former CWS Canning Factory, based on Waveney Drive and Riverside Road from 1932 through to its eventual demolition in 2000.

All are welcome to join the free event, especially former factory employees with a chance to reminisce whilst enjoying some free COOP food and drink. The team will be sharing how the Cooperative movement continues to play a vital role in Lowestoft and they would love to see any memorabilia that anyone connected with the factory would like to share.

Opened in 1932, occupying part of the former Maconochie Bros site, the CWS factory grew considerably manufacturing a host of food products including the Waveney Brand which, for many years, were transported across the UK by rail, utilising a complex network of railway goods lines to be sold in COOP stores across the UK. The movement also owned the former Rogerson Hall holiday centre near Corton for use by COOP employees with the factory itself boasting a host of employee facilities including a large community hall and sports facilities.

The Central England COOP was formed following a series of mergers with the original Beccles COOP and Lowestoft COOP Societies (later Waveney COOP and then Anglia Regional COOP) forming part of the group.

As part of the celebrations, a specially produced booklet featuring a history of the factory will be available free of charge to those attending.

A special talk by historians Ivan Bunn and David Butcher has also been rescheduled to take place at the railway station Parcels Office at 2.30pm on Sunday 9 October. Lowestoft Relocated is a fascinating illustrated lecture on how the town moved from an original island site onto the cliff-top during the first half of the fourteenth century and explores what prompted this radical change.

Both events are being staged by kind permission of the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership and the Lowestoft Central Project and are free for the public to enjoy with no need to book. Further information is available from the Community Rail Shop and Tourist information Office at Lowestoft station.

Maconochies-CWS Factories looking NW June 1928 Courtesy Russell Walker