1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lowestoft

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LOWESTOFT, a municipal borough, seaport and watering place in the Lowestoft parliamentary division of Suffolk, England, II7½ m. N.E. from London by the Great Eastern railway. Pop. (1901) 29,850. It lies on either side of the formerly natural, now artificial outlet of the river Waveney to the North Sea, while to the west the river forms Oulton Broad and Lothing Lake. The northern bank is the original site. South Lowestoft arose on the completion of harbour improvements, begun in 1844, when the outlet of the Waveney, reopened in 1827, was deepened. The old town is picturesquely situated on a lofty declivity, which includes the most easterly point of land in England. The church of St Margaret is Decorated and Perpendicular. South Lowestoft has a fine esplanade, a park (Bellevue) and other adjuncts of a watering-place. Bathing facilities are good. There are two piers enclosing a harbour with a total area of 48 acres, having a depth of about 16 ft. at high tide. The fisheries are important and some 600 smacks belong to the port. Industries include ship and boat building and fitting, and motor engineering. The town is governed by a mayor, 8 aldermen and 24 councillors. Area 2178 acres.

Lowestoft (Lothu Wistoft, Lowistoft, Loistoft) owes its origin to its fisheries. In 1086 it was a hamlet in the demesne of the royal manor of Lothingland. The men of Lowestoft as tenants on ancient demesne of the crown possessed many privileges, but had no definite burghal rights until 1885. For several centuries before 1740 the fisheries were the cause of constant dispute between Lowestoft and Yarmouth. During the last half of the 18th century the manufacture of china flourished in the town. A weekly market on Wednesdays was granted to John, earl of Richmond, in 1308 together with an eight days fair beginning on the vigil of St Margaret's day, and in 1445 John de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, one of his successors as lord of the manor, received a further grant of the same market and also two yearly fairs, one on the feast of St Philip and St Tames and the other at Michaelmas. The market is still held on Wednesdays, and in 1792 the Michaelmas fair and another on May-day were in existence. Now two yearly fairs for small wares are held on the 13th of May and the 11th of October. In 1643 Cromwell performed one of his earlier exploits in taking Lowestoft, capturing large supplies and making prisoners of several influential royalists. In the war of 1665 the Dutch under Admiral Opdam were defeated off Lowestoft by the English fleet commanded by the duke of York.

See Victoria County History, Suffolk; E. Gillingwater, An Historical Account of the Town of Lowestoft (ed. 1790).