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Lowestoft commemorates 175 years since railway to Norwich opened

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Lowestoft is celebrating 175 years of railway as today marks the anniversary of the line between the town and Norwich opening.

To mark the occasion, a special timeline of railway events will be unveiled today by MP Peter Aldous at the town station, which is the most easterly point of the UK rail network.

In 1844, Sir Samuel Morton Peto who resided at nearby Somerleyton Hall purchased Lowestoft Harbour and announced plans to construct a railway from Reedham.

Lowestoft Station. Picture: Google maps
Lowestoft Station. Picture: Google maps

Construction began in 1846 and the line opened to goods traffic on May 3 1847. Passenger services began on July 1.

The initial route to Norwich was followed in 1859 by a line south to Ipswich and in 1903, a direct route to Great Yarmouth.

Lowestoft railway station, which escaped serious damage in both world wars as well as fire, floods and relocation plans, brought goods and tourists to the town and enabled fish caught in Lowestoft, to be available in Manchester or London within hours.

In 1915, the former Great Eastern Railway stables became the first UK railway premises to be bombed in a Zeppelin Air Raid and 1938 saw the arrival of over 500 Jewish children escaping Nazi oppression in Europe as part of the Kindertansport Initiative and the evacuation of over 3000 children away from the threat of invasion and bombing during World War 2.

The station was also used as a filming location for Anglia Television’s acclaimed drama series, Tales of The Unexpected.

In recent years, Network Rail has invested over £60m upgrading signalling and level crossings as well as creating brand new freight sidings which operated for the first time earlier this year.

The timeline, which will include key moments in the history of the station including the addition of lines and introduction of services has been installed by the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership and the Lowestoft Central Project.

The railway currently offers hourly passenger trains to Ipswich and Norwich and a daily service connecting with ferry services at Harwich International.