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Lowestoft
Image of Lowestoft seafront and harbour
Lowestoft beach and outer harbour
Map showing the location of Lowestoft within Suffolk
Map showing the location of Lowestoft within Suffolk
Lowestoft
Population 71,120 (2008 est.)
OS grid reference TM548933
• London 110 mi (180 km) south-west
Civil parish
  • Lowestoft
District
  • East Suffolk
Shire county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Lowestoft
Postcode district NR32, NR33
Dialling code 01502
Police Suffolk
Fire Suffolk
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament
  • Waveney
List of places
UK
England
Suffolk
52°29′N 1°45′E / 52.48°N 1.75°E / 52.48; 1.75

Lowestoft ( LOH-(ih)-STOFT-,_-LOH-stəf) is a coastal town and civil parish in the East Suffolk district of Suffolk, England. As the most easterly UK settlement, it is 110 miles (177 km) north-east of London, 38 miles (61 km) north-east of Ipswich and 22 miles (35 km) south-east of Norwich, and the main town in its district. The estimated population in the built-up area exceeds 70,000. Its development grew with the fishing industry and as a seaside resort with wide sandy beaches. As fishing declined, oil and gas exploitation in the North Sea in the 1960s took over. While these too have declined, Lowestoft is becoming a regional centre of the renewable energy industry.

History

Following the discovery of flint tools in the cliffs at Pakefield in south Lowestoft in 2005, the human habitation of the Lowestoft area can be traced back 700,000 years. This establishes Lowestoft as one of the earliest known sites for human habitation in Britain.

The area was settled during the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages and during the Roman and Saxon periods, with a Saxon cemetery producing a number of finds at Bloodmoor Hill in south Lowestoft. The settlement's name is derived from the Viking personal name Hlothver and toft, a Viking word for 'homestead'. The town's name has been spelled variously: Lothnwistoft, Lestoffe, Laistoe, Loystoft and Laystoft.

At the Domesday survey the village was known as Lothuwistoft and was relatively small with a population of around 16 households comprising, in 1086, three families, ten smallholders and three slaves. The manor formed part of the king's holding within the Hundred of Lothingland and was worth about four geld in tax income. Roger Bigod was the tenant in chief of the village. The village of Akethorpe may have been located close to Lowestoft.

In the Middle Ages Lowestoft became an increasingly important fishing town. The industry grew quickly and the town grew to challenge its neighbour Great Yarmouth. The trade, particularly fishing for herring, continued to act as the town's main identity until the 20th century.

In June 1665 the Battle of Lowestoft, the first battle of the Second Anglo-Dutch War, took place 40 miles (64 km) off the coast of the town. The battle resulted in a significant victory for the English fleet over the Dutch.

The Lowestoft Porcelain Factory, active from 1757 to 1802, was in production for longer than any English soft-paste porcelain manufacturer other than Royal Worcester and Royal Crown Derby, producing domestic wares such as pots, teapots and jugs. The factory, built on the site of an existing pottery or brick kiln, was later used as a brewery and malt kiln. Most of its remaining buildings were demolished in 1955.

Lowestoft
Lowestoft's Yacht Basin in 1929.

In the 19th century, the arrival of Sir Samuel Morton Peto brought about a change in Lowestoft's fortunes. Railway contractor Peto was contracted by the Lowestoft Railway & Harbour Company to build a railway line between Lowestoft and Reedham. This stimulated the further development of the fishing industry and the Port of Lowestoft in general. The development of the port boosted trade with the continent. Peto's railway not only enabled the fishing industry to get its product to market, but assisted the development of other industries such as engineering and helped to establish Lowestoft as a flourishing seaside holiday resort.

During World War I, Lowestoft was bombarded by the German Navy on 24 April 1916 in conjunction with the Easter Rising. The port was a significant naval base during the war, including for armed trawlers such as Ethel & Millie and Nelson which were used to combat German U-boat actions in the North Sea such as the action of 15th August 1917. In World War II, the town was heavily targeted for bombing by the Luftwaffe due to its engineering industry and role as a naval base. It is sometimes claimed that it became one of the most heavily bombed towns per head of population in the UK. The Royal Naval Patrol Service, formed primarily from trawlermen and fishermen from the Royal Naval Reserve, was mobilised at Lowestoft in August 1939. The service had its central depot HMS Europa, also known as Sparrow's Nest, in the town. Many Lowestoft fishermen served in the patrol service.

Geography

Weather chart for Lowestoft
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source: Met Office

Lowestoft is the easternmost town in the United Kingdom. The town lies on the North Sea coast and is located 110 miles (177 km) north-east of London, 38 miles (61 km) north-east of Ipswich and 22 miles (35 km) south-east of Norwich. The town is divided in two by Lake Lothing which forms Lowestoft Harbour and provides access via Oulton Broad and Oulton Dyke to the River Waveney and the Broads.

Lowestoft is mainly low lying, although with areas of steep hills in the north of the town where the highest points are 20–30 metres above sea level. The underlying rock is crag-sand with overlying sand and glacial till deposits with gravel, with the crag being exposed at coastal cliffs such as at Pakefield. Areas around Lake Lothing feature alluvium silt and some marshland remains west of Oulton Broad. The beaches to the south of the harbour are sandy and have Blue Flag status. Towards the north of the harbour is an area of old sand dunes known locally as the Denes as well as more beaches and Ness Point, the easternmost point of the U.K.

Lowestoft has been subject to periodic flooding, most notably in January 1953 when a North Sea swell driven by low pressure and a high tide swept away many of the older sea defences and deluged most of the southern town. Heavy rain caused flash flooding in the town in September 2006. December 2013 storm surge caused severe flooding of Lowestoft and its suburbs in December 2013

Lowestoft is in one of the driest areas of the United Kingdom and receives less than 600 mm of rainfall a year on average. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. Summer temperatures will tend to reach 21 °C in August, when the town averages over 200 hours of sunshine, whilst in winter minimum temperatures average 2 °C. Significant snowfall is rare..

Demography

Lowestoft is Suffolk's second largest town after Ipswich, with an estimated population of 58,560 in 2010. Including the suburban areas of Oulton and Carlton Colville, which are part of the wider urban area, brought the estimated population of the built-up area to 73,755 in 2018 from 68,850 at the 2001 census. The town contains business and residential areas, with a main shopping centre just to the north of Lake Lothing. Its wider urban area includes the suburbs of Carlton Colville, Gunton, Pakefield, Oulton and Oulton Broad and the district of Kirkley. Associated outlying villages include Blundeston, Corton, Gisleham, Kessingland and Somerleyton.

About 10 per cent of the area population at the 2001 census was aged 75 or over and 20 per cent under 16. In general the population of several wards is slightly skewed towards the elderly. The population is mainly classed as "white", with minority ethnicities making up 1.4 per cent, compared with 8.7 per cent nationally.

At the 2001 census there were 27,777 households, giving an average household size of 2.40. In total 8,430 (30 per cent) were classified as one-person households, while 26 per cent included children aged 15 or under. The proportion of households without a private car was 29 per cent, whilst 22 per cent had two or more. In housing tenure, 72 per cent of homes were owner-occupied.

Culture and community

The town has two theatres, the Marina Theatre and The Seagull community theatre. Operated as a Charitable Trust, the 800 seat Marina was substantially restored and refurbished in 2012 and its cinema was upgraded to digital in 2013. A small four screen cinema, the independently owned East Coast Cinema, underwent a modest refurbishment in late 2011 to upgrade facilities and allow 3D films to be shown. The Beach radio station broadcasts to Lowestoft and the surrounding area as does BBC Radio Suffolk. The local weekly paper is the Lowestoft Journal which is part of the Archant group. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has been resident at the Marina Theatre since 2005.

Lowestoft Museum, which holds a collection of Lowestoft Porcelain as well as artifacts describing the town's history, is in Nicholas Everett Park in Oulton Broad. A number of small museums are located in Sparrow's Nest park in the north of the town, including the Lowestoft War Memorial Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Royal Naval Patrol Service Museum. The Heritage Workshop Centre is also located in the park. The Mincarlo is the last surviving sidewinder trawler of the Lowestoft fishing fleet and can be visited at Lowestoft Harbour. The East Anglia Transport Museum, which holds a collection of buses, trams and trolleybuses is located in Carlton Colville.

Lowestoft retains a number of narrow lanes with steps running steeply towards the sea, known locally as "scores". These were used by fishermen and smugglers in the past and are now the site of an annual race which raises money for charity. The borough church is dedicated to St Margaret and is a Grade I listed building.

Lowestoft library, located in the centre of the town, contains a local history section and a branch of the Suffolk Record Office. Lowestoft Hospital provides community care for the elderly as well as other services. The main burial grounds for the town are Lowestoft Cemetery and Kirkley Cemetery.

The town is twinned with the French town of Plaisir in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France to the west of Paris. It was formerly twinned with Dutch town of Katwijk which is due east from Lowestoft on the North Sea coast.

Landmarks

Ness Point, the most easterly location in the United Kingdom, is located in the town close to a 126 metre high wind turbine known locally as Gulliver. At the time it was completed the turbine was the tallest in the United Kingdom. At the most easterly point is a large compass rose, the Euroscope, set in the ground which gives the direction and distance to various cities in Europe.

Belle Vue Park is the site of the Royal Naval Patrol Service memorial. The central depot for the service was in Lowestoft when it was mobilised in August 1939 on a site known as Sparrow's Nest adjacent to the memorial. The memorial has the names of the 2,385 members of the service who died in World War II.

Lighthouse

Lowestoft Denes lighthouse - geograph.org.uk - 229057
Lowestoft Lighthouse

Lowestoft Lighthouse, located to the north of the town centre, was built in 1874 and stands 16 metres tall, 37 metres above sea level. The light, which has a range of 23 nautical miles (43 km), was automated in 1975. It is the most easterly lighthouse in the United Kingdom.

The first two lighthouses in Lowestoft were built in 1609, on the foreshore and candlelit, to give warning of the dangerous sandbanks around the coast. These were the first lighthouses constructed by Trinity House. The Low Light was discontinued in 1706 following sea encroachment, but re-established in 1730 in a form that could be easily moved in response to further changes to the Stamford Channel and shoreline. It was finally discontinued in August 1923. The 'High Light' tower was rebuilt as the present lighthouse in 1874 with the intention of displaying an electric light, but when opened paraffin oil was used instead; it was not until 1936 that it was electrified. The lighthouse, along with two cottages originally used by lighthouse keepers, is a Grade II listed building.

Lifeboat station

Lowestoft Lifeboat Station is located at the mouth of the outer harbour at the South pier. The station is one of the oldest in the British Isles, founded in 1801, and is open to visitors throughout the year. The lifeboat is Patsy Knight, a Shannon class lifeboat which replaced the Tyne class boat Spirit of Lowestoft in 2014. A former Lowestoft lifeboat was used during the Dunkirk evacuation of British forces from France in 1940. The South Broads Lifeboat Station, an inland RNLI station, operated at Oulton Broad between 2001 and 2011.

Town Hall

Lowestoft Town Hall, Historic High Street
Lowestoft Town Hall

Lowestoft Town Hall stands on the High Street. Various forms of local government have met or been based on this site since the establishment of a Town House and Chapel here in 1570. In 1698 a new Town House was built, incorporating a 'corn cross' on the ground floor with the meeting chamber and chapel above. This in turn was replaced by the present building, designed by architect J. L. Clemence, in 1857. The building houses the town clock and the curfew bell, which dates from 1644 and is rung each evening at 8pm. The building is a Grade II listed building.

In 2012 Waveney District Council announced that it planned to leave the town hall, and share Suffolk County Council's offices on Riverside Road. This took place in 2015.

Transport

Diesel Multiple Units stand at Lowestoft - geograph.org.uk - 1460645
Trains at Lowestoft station

Lowestoft railway station, originally Lowestoft Central, is centrally placed within walking distance of the beach and the town centre. It provides services to Ipswich on the East Suffolk Line and to Norwich on the Wherry Line. Both lines were originally part of the Great Eastern Railway and are operated by Abellio Greater Anglia. The suburb of Oulton Broad has two stations: Oulton Broad North station lies on the line to Norwich, while Oulton Broad South is on the line to Ipswich.

Lowestoft North railway station, originally operated by the Norfolk and Suffolk Joint Railway, closed in 1970 with the Lowestoft to Great Yarmouth line. The site is now taken by the residential Beeching Drive.

Buses in Lowestoft are mainly operated by First Norfolk & Suffolk, with Lowestoft bus station as the hub. They link the town with Norwich and Great Yarmouth and provide services within the town and to surrounding villages. The Excel X1 route runs a link to Peterborough. National Express Coaches stop in Lowestoft on the LondonGreat Yarmouth route.

The main A12 road to London passes through Carlton Colville, Pakefield and Kirkley in the southern area of Lowestoft, ending at the town's harbour Bascule Bridge. It connects there to the A47 road, which runs around the centre of town, before exiting along Great Yarmouth Road, crossing the county border into Norfolk.

A second road from the town centre, the A1044, links the town to Oulton Broad, via its second road crossing over Lake Lothing, and connects with the A146 that runs between Lowestoft, Beccles and Norwich. Both bridges can be raised if vessels need to pass through the harbour and Lake Lothing, though this can cause congestion in the town and routes can become gridlocked. As of June 2021 a third crossing of Lowestoft Harbour is under construction. A southern relief road was built to divert traffic from the seafront, while a proposed pedestrian and cycle bridge is planned as an alternative crossing alongside the Bascule Bridge.

Lowestoft's cycle network has routes that link areas to the town centre. About 12 per cent of residents cycle to work. The town is seen as "ideally suited" to cycling due to its relatively small size and flat landscape. Suffolk County Council aims to promote cycling by working with employers and schools and by funding a town-centre pedestrian and cycle bridge.

Sport and leisure

Lowestoft's sport clubs and facilities include Lowestoft Town Football Club at Crown Meadow and Kirkley & Pakefield Football Club at Walmer Road. Lowestoft Cricket Club plays at the Denes Oval sport ground. Other sport clubs include Waveney Gymnastics club and Rookery Park Golf Club.

Lowestoft and Yarmouth rugby football clubalso has its Gunton Park home based in Lowestoft. Founded in 1879, it is one of the oldest rugby union clubs in England.

East Coast Hockey Club is the town's field hockey side formed in 2019 as a result of a merger between Lowestoft Railway Hockey Club and Lowestoft Ladies Hockey Club. They play their home matches at East Point Academy.

The town's main leisure centre, the Waterlane Leisure Centre, was redeveloped at a cost of £8 million in 2010–2011. Facilities include a gym and climbing wall as well as a 25-metre swimming pool with a movable floor. Lowestoft has a number of parks and recreation grounds.

The Broads national park extends to Lowestoft on Oulton Broad. Water activities and boat tours can be taken here. Powerboat racing takes place throughout the summer, mainly on Thursday evenings. Fixtures are organised by the Lowestoft and Oulton Broad Motor Boat Club and can attract up to 1500 spectators. The Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club has its club house in Lowestoft harbour.

Economy

Originally based on fishing and engineering, the economy of Lowestoft has declined over the years. Although the tourism sector has grown, the major employers in the town are the wholesale and retail sector, with 18 per cent of employment. Service industries, including health, social care and education are significant employers, while manufacturing employs about 10 per cent of the workforce.

Employment can vary seasonally due to the importance of tourism to the economy. In early 2011, around 10 per cent of the working population of the town claimed Jobseekers Allowance.

Traditional industries

Trawler Mincarlo, Lowestoft, 13th June 2009 (17)
Traditional trawler, the Mincarlo, now a museum ship

Until the mid-1960s, fishing was seen as Lowestoft's main industry, although from the 1930s the percentage so employed directly and in trades associated with fishing was actually only about 10 per cent. Fleets of drifters and trawlers caught fish such as herring, cod and plaice. Catches have diminished since the 1960s and although 100 boats remained by the 1980s, there are now only a few small boats operating out of Lowestoft, with no large trawlers. By 2011 just three traders remained at the town's fish market, which is under threat of closure due to redevelopment of the port. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), a large fisheries research centre that is a part of Defra, is still located in Lowestoft.

Other major traditional employers included Eastern Coach Works and engineering and shipbuilding companies clustered around the harbour. These included the Brooke Marine and Richards shipbuilding companies, which together employed over a thousand men but went out of business in the 1990s, and the Norwich-based engineering company Boulton and Paul. Some shipbuilding and repair still goes on at the harbour.

Modern economy

Lowestoft 10-4-2004
Windfarm construction in Lowestoft harbour

Major local employers include Birds Eye frozen foods, with 700 workers. This has been located in the town for over 60 years. The food-processing company Wessex Foods closed its Lowestoft plant in 2010 after a fire destroyed the factory and it failed to find alternative premises.

Several other employers have shed labour in recent years. The Sanyo plant in the town closed down in 2009 with a loss of 60 jobs, having once employed 800. The timber company Jeld-Wen closed its factory in the town in 2010.

From the mid-1960s to the late 1990s, the oil and gas industry provided significant employment in the area. For many years the Shell Southern Operations base on the north shore of Lowestoft Harbour was town's largest employer. A decision to close the Shell base was finally made in 2003. Oil and gas is still a major industry.

The town has made efforts to develop as a centre for renewable energy in the east of England. The non-profit Orbis Energy centre has been set up to draw business in the green-energy sector and features solar thermal heating. In April 2009, Associated British Ports announced that the harbour is to become the operations centre for the 500 MW Greater Gabbard wind farm, which when completed will be the world's largest offshore windfarm. The turbines will be located 15 miles (24 km) off the Suffolk coast and the Outer Harbour will be used to house the necessary operational support facilities. Other developments in the renewable energy sector include a prototype tidal energy generator being produced by local company 4NRG and wave power systems developed by Trident Energy.

Rainbow Saver Anglia Credit Union, a savings and loans co-operative established in 1999 and operating throughout East Anglia, is based in the town. Hoseasons (now part of Awaze), a specialist in self-catering UK holidays, is also a large employment provider.

Retailing

The town centre is the main shopping area in Waveney district. The retail chain Marks & Spencer has a store. Chadds independent department store was founded in 1907, and after nearly 100 years trading in the High Street, was taken over in 2004 by the Great Yarmouth-based Palmers group. Specialist shopping areas, branded as The Historic High Street and the Triangle Market Place, have been developed on the northern edge of the centre. Several retail parks have appeared, the largest being North Quay Retail Park in Peto Way.

Tourism

Lowestoft beach crowd - geograph.org.uk - 1420548
Lowestoft beach at the airshow

Lowestoft is a traditional seaside resort, first developed as a bathing site in the 1760s. The coast has been called the "Sunrise Coast". The town's main beaches are south of the harbour, where two piers, the Claremont and South piers, provide tourist facilities, and the East Point Pavilion the tourist information service. The beach south of the Claremont Pier is a Blue Flag beach. Lifeguard facilities are provided during the summer and water sports take place along the coast. Tourism is a significant aspect of the town's economy.

The town features two major attractions, the first being Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park, situated on the northern edge of the town, while the second is the Africa Alive! wildlife park, situated in the south at Kessingland. The town maintains a holiday park at Pakefield, operated by Pontins, and a small caravan site near its northern beach. The natural attractions of the Broads and the River Waveney on the west edge of the town, also attract visitors and been the site for boat trips and water sports events, with companies such as Hoseasons operating hire boats from Oulton Broad.

Between 1996 and 2012, the town hosted a major air show during the summer, dubbed the Lowestoft Airshow. A major attraction, the two-day event took place in August, and featuring a wide range of aircraft including the Red Arrows, a Lancaster bomber, Spitfires and an Avro Vulcan. From 2004, it was run by Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival Ltd, a non-profit company, but suffered financial difficulties. In 2010, the event made a loss of £40,000 and raised concerns over its sustainability, whereupon further financial difficulties coupled with bad weather and low visitor numbers made the 2012 airshow the last before it was discontinued.

Near the town centre is Lowestoft Maritime Museum, open from late April to late October, which has exhibits of maritime artefacts, an extensive collection of ship models and medals, marine art, fishing and the fishing industry, activities with the Royal Navy in WWII, and shipwrights' and coopers' tools.

Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth at night
Lowestoft (right) and Great Yarmouth (left) at night

Redevelopment

Lowestoft is among the more socially deprived areas in Suffolk, with Kirkley the county's most deprived ward, ranking 173rd most deprived in England out of 32,486. The area attracted European Union redevelopment funding. The Waveney Sunrise Scheme invested £14.7 million, funding transport improvements and tourist facilities such as fountains on Royal Plain, as stimulants. Regeneration company 1st East, which focused on the Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth areas, closed in 2011.

Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone was announced in 2011 and launched in April 2012. The zone, developed by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, has six redevelopment sites across Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. The bid for the zone in 2011 envisaged creating 13,500 jobs by 2036. It involved the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance and focused on developing the energy sector initially using tax incentives, simplified planning regulations and the provision of improved broadband internet services. The sites in Lowestoft are Mobbs Way, Riverside Road and South Lowestoft Industrial Estate.

The harbour is a focus of redevelopment proposals for Lowestoft through the Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour Area Action Plan, submitted in February 2011. The plan focuses on the redevelopment of brownfield sites in and around the harbour area to create jobs, particularly in the renewable energy and retailing sectors.

Education

Lowestoft has several primary and high schools, including four 11–16 high schools: Benjamin Britten Academy, Ormiston Denes Academy, East Point Academy and Pakefield High School. After reorganisation, all eight middle schools in the town closed in 2011 and Pakefield High School opened. Post-16 education is provided at Lowestoft Sixth Form College, which opened in September 2011 as part of the reorganisation, and at East Coast College (Lowestoft Campus), which offers a range of academic and vocational courses.

East Coast College (Lowestoft Campus) provides some higher education courses through an affiliation to the University of Suffolk. Degrees were initially validated by the University of East Anglia and the University of Essex but are now validated by the University of Suffolk. The college also has courses in boat building and some to support the offshore and maritime industries that are major employers in the town. Other adult education courses are run by the County Council from a base at the town library.

Notable people

The Elizabethan pamphleteer Thomas Nashe, a father of modern journalism and a primary source for the literary milieux of William Shakespeare, was born in Lowestoft in 1567. Robert Potter, poet and translator of Greek drama, was Vicar of Lowestoft until 1804. The 19th-century writer and traveller George Borrow lived at Oulton Broad for many years and wrote most of his books there. Lieutenant General Sir Edwin Alderson also lived at Oulton Broad, on a houseboat, and died in 1927 at the since-demolished Royal Hotel in Lowestoft, where he had been staying for his last month.

Admiral Sir John Ashby, who commanded HMS Victory at the Battles of Barfleur and La Hogue in 1692, grew up in Suffolk and is buried in Lowestoft. A memorial is sited in St Margaret's Church. Admiral Sir Thomas Allin, a commander at the Battle of Lowestoft on 13 June 1665 was awarded a knighthood on 24 June and appointed an Admiral of the Blue squadron. He lived in a family house in High Street until his victories enabled him to move to a grander country residence, Somerleyton Hall. Vice Admiral James Dacres fought in wars against America in the 19th century and was born in the town. Claud Castleton VC of the Australian Army was born in Kirkley and Captain Thomas Crisp V.C., Royal Navy officer, was born in the town – one of the town's main roads is named after him. Robert William Hook, coxswain at the RNLI in Lowestoft from 1853 to 1883 and who has been credited with saving more than 600 lives in his career, with Lowestoft RNLI and with private companies. He was born in Lowestoft, lived and worked there all his life, and is buried in Lowestoft Cemetery.

Sir Samuel Morton Peto, bought Somerleyton Hall in 1843 and has one of the town's main roads named after him. He was influential in developing the town's railway links and harbour. Sir Christopher Cockerell, inventor of the hovercraft, lived at Oulton Broad, and tested craft in Somerleyton at Fritton Lake. The astronomer Fiammetta Wilson was born in the town in 1864, with a birth name of Helen Francis Worthington. Economist Sir Dennis Holme Robertson was born in Lowestoft in 1890. He was educated on a scholarship at Eton, and read Classics and Economics at Trinity College, Cambridge before teaching at Cambridge University, working closely with Keynes. The philanthropist Howard Hollingsworth, co-founder of Bourne & Hollingsworth Department Store, visited Lowestoft in 1908 and later bought and renovated the burnt-out Briar Clyffe House and grounds on Gunton Cliff. He became a Lowestoft benefactor, and on the death of his friend Nicholas Everitt, bought his estate at Oulton Broad and gave it to Lowestoft for a public park. He was made the first Freeman of the Borough of Lowestoft in 1929. Roland Aubrey Leighton, fiancé of Vera Brittain, immortalised in her WW1 autobiography Testament of Youth, lived with his family at Heather Cliff on Gunton Cliff.

The composer Benjamin Britten was born in Lowestoft in 1913. He has been called "without a doubt the greatest English classical composer of the last century" and "the only person of real celebrity to have emerged from darkest Lowestoft." The Benjamin Britten High School and a small town shopping centre are named after him. The artist Mark Burrell (born in Lowestoft in 1957) has a studio in the town and often features Lowestoft's landmarks and local people in his paintings. He is a leading member of the North Sea Magical Realists.

The children's author and illustrator Michael Foreman, born in 1938, spent his childhood in Pakefield, where his mother kept a grocer's shop. He went to Pakefield Primary School, and played on Hilly Green – stories of which are recorded in his book War Boy. The author and illustrator James Mayhew lived in the town and studied at Lowestoft School of Art. Photographer George Davison was also born in Lowestoft. Jayne-Marie Barker, author of the Inspector Allen mysteries, grew up at Oulton Broad and has used Lowestoft as an inspiration for her books. Author Mark Dawson was born in the town.

The comedian and actor Karl Theobald was born in Lowestoft, as were BBC Radio 4 newsreader and television presenter Zeb Soanes and DJ and BBC radio presenter Tim Westwood. Three founder members of The Darkness rock band were educated in Kirkley; some of their songs feature local landmarks or stories. Lil' Chris featured in Channel 4's Rock School, filmed at Kirkley High School and went on to a musical career. Leanne Mitchell, winner of the first The Voice UK series, lives in the town.

Sports people associated with Lowestoft include the England football captain Terry Butcher, who was educated there, and Peter Wright, a Darts World Champion who spent formative years there. Others include former Ipswich Town goalkeeper Laurie Sivell, Norwich City defenders Paul Haylock and Daryl Sutch, former football player and manager Richard Money, New York Mets pitcher Les Rohr and Olympic Bronze medal-winning middleweight boxer Anthony Ogogo.

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