In 1900 Lowestoft was a top fishing port and tourist resort with a population of 23,000. The town’s fishing village — known to locals as THE GRIT or the Beach Village — was the most easterly community in the country, right next to the North Sea. THE GRIT was home to 2,500 people, 13 pubs, three schools, two churches, shops and cafés and the often poor ‘Gritsters’ were known for their spirit of independence. The decline of the fishing industry, coupled with World War Two and the 1953 flood, resulted in the demise of THE GRIT. By the early 1970s few houses remained and Birds Eye and other new industries have since taken over the site.
In 1997 Jack Rose (fisherman, lifeboatman and local legend known in the town as ‘Mr Lowestoft’) and Dean Parkin (Lowestoft born writer and poet) published their book of The Grit – the story of Lowestoft’s fishing village – which became a local bestseller. Out of print for many years, that book is now at the heart of a new community words, film and music project devised by POETRY PEOPLE, in partnership with the Lowestoft Maritime Museum, and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Lowestoft Rising.
In 2018, THE GRIT project will deliver:
• A new show bringing to life the characters and stories of THE GRIT
• Permanent new displays about THE GRIT in the Lowestoft Maritime Museum
• Schools workshops and a resource to teach THE GRIT’s history to future generations
• Reminiscence and oral history sessions with local care home and sheltered housing residents
• Publication of a revised edition of the original book
Dean says: “I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to share the story of The Grit with Lowestoft’s younger generation and to create a new live show celebrating some of the remarkable characters who lived and worked there. We can all learn from the spirit of The Gritsters who stuck together in hard times with resilience and humour.”
GRITFEST (Celebration Day) Sunday 27 May 2018 / 10.30am to 4pm
at Sparrows Nest Gardens. All welcome.