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Wherry Lines CRP opens historic swing bridge for Heritage Festival

The Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership and Lowestoft Central Project will once again play a key role in the Lowestoft Heritage Open Day’s Festival which opens this Friday, 9 September, with the town set to host more than 120 events, more than any other town or city in England.

As part of the nine-day festival, the Community Rail Shop and Tourist Information Office at the town’s railway station will host the Festival Information Hub with a host of events taking place both on the station concourse and inside the restored Parcels Office, now a public exhibition space.

Events taking place at Lowestoft railway station include an opportunity to see and hear more about Wartime Lowestoft, learn how British intelligence cracked secret German codes with an incredible replica Enigma machine, a chance to gain an insight into Lowestoft’s multi-million-pound flood prevention scheme, and ‘Sail, Steam & Diesel’ – an exhibition featuring the development of fishing vessels put together by Peter Page and John Soanes from the Port of Lowestoft Research Society.

The second festival weekend sees a major community celebration of the Cooperative movement on Sat 17 Sept with the station hosting a special day of films, memories and music recalling the organisations former CWS food factory in the town and its Rogerson Hall holiday centre situated at nearby Corton. On Sun 18, the Parcels Office hosts respected local historians David Butcher and Ivan Bunn who will be giving a fascinating talk how the towns 14th century first settlement developed.

Somerlayton Swing Bridge. Photo: Wherry Lines CRP

In addition, a unique partnership between Network Rail, the Wherry Lines CRP and Lowestoft Central Project will allow public tours of the historic 1905 built swing bridge which carries the railway across the River Waveney on the line between Norwich and Lowestoft. The swing bridge – along with two others in the area – will be undergoing a substantial £8m modernisation programme this autumn and the tours will enable a final opportunity to witness the original mechanical equipment in operation.

Martin Halliday, Community Rail Development Officer Martin Halliday said;

“The Wherry Lines CRP and the Lowestoft Central Project are delighted to play a key role once again in what has become the country’s largest free-to-enjoy heritage festival. In a year we are celebrating 175 years since the railway reached Lowestoft, we are thrilled to be working in partnership with Network Rail to undertake tours of the historic Somerleyton swing bridge, and our volunteers will be assisting on events not just at Lowestoft station but across a range of the festival activities.”

Diana Moore, Chair of the Lowestoft Heritage Open Day’s Steering Group added;

“We are extremely grateful to the team at the Wherry Lines and Lowestoft Central Project for their invaluable support to the festival and the unique contribution they bring through being members of our steering group, hosting our planning meetings and our festival information hub, assisting with promotion, logistics and public engagement in addition to arranging and hosting and assisting with numerous events and activities.”

Heritage Open Day’s Lowestoft runs from September 9 to 18 – full details can be found online at www.heritageopendays.org.uk and searching Lowestoft.

Applications for swing bridge tours can be made by emailing lowestoftcentral@gmail.com or calling at the Community Rail Shop and Tourist information office at Lowestoft railway station, where free guidebooks to the festival are also available.