Factual information mostly taken from the book “In days gone by” Peter Clements (1991)*
This is a small A5 size paperback book – excellent value and a great little book!
I cannot find my copy of this book, but there was a map in that book of the coastline as it was in the past and in 1990 – does anyone out there have this amazing little book?
David and I live in Pakefield, which many people just classify as being just another part of Lowestoft as is Oulton Broad and Lothingland, but that was not always the case!
The name Pakefield is probably derived from Pacca’s or Pagga’s field, and was named after the land’s owner. In 1801 Pakefield had a population of 282, by the mid 1800’s this had increased to 718 and then by 1901, Pakefield could boast of having a population of 1,425.
Pakefield’s land loss is probably the most important factor of its history (hopefully not its future). At one time, roughly where the coastline is now, was the street called Lorna Grove. Unfortunately there have been no groins placed at Pakefield and I am sure the shoreline is just getting closer and closer (don’t tell the insurance company).
The shop on the corner later became Hammond’s (or Alexander) Dairies and to the left of the house (not shown) were allotments.
A point of interest is that it is not possible to take this same photograph today as the land on which the photographer stood has succumbed to the sea and is no longer there. All that is left, is now part of the beach which is approximately 10′ lower now than when this photograph was taken.
During the 1920s and 30s, although the schools were overcrowded and depression had gripped the country, childhood was not all doom and gloom. There were some local customs, one of which was that on St. Valentine’s day, children would go around the streets together early in the morning singing: Good morning Valentine, All up your window blind, If you want to hear us sing, Open the door and let us in.
People would give them apples, biscuits, farthing coins and so on. The landlord of the Jolly Sailors threw out hot coins which had been heating on the cooking range in readiness (I wonder if it would work today?)
The 1930s saw the increase of cars – and the end of the local tram service. Trams would run until midnight and were very frequent, costing a penny from the Tramways Hotel to Carlton Road, twopence to the Railway Station and threepence to Sparrow’s Nest.
Local public services were denied in Pakefield because they were too expensive and the people in Pakefield could not afford higher rates and as they did not want to loose there independence to Lowestoft, therefore went without many of the facilities, i.e. Pakefield Street denoted the boundary between Pakefield and Lowestoft – so, only the Lowestoft side of the street had any gas lamps, the rest of Pakefield remained in the dark! Pakefield’s streets were ignored by Lowestoft’s road sweepers. In 1934 there was also a lack of proper sewage and sanitation facilities, resulting in 450 privies, five ashpits and forty cesspits to be emptied in the village. The unpleasant task of emptying these fell to Mr. Bob White, the carter and coalman, who came once a week, usually at night.
In April 1934 as a result of a lack of services and efficient sea defences, the parish (or most of it) was incorporated into Lowestoft, but it was agreed that the name of Pakefield be retained for all official purposes relating to the village.
Meanwhile, the battle with cliff erosion continued although from 1927 to 1937 the erosion began to abate with only 35 feet of land lost to the sea during this 8 year period. Unfortunately, most of this land was occupied. In 1934 sea defence plans for Pakefield (now part of Lowestoft) were put into operation. Construction of the south sea ‘Jubilee Wall’ commenced in 1935, but before it was completed war intervened.
Erosion of the cliffs became so serious an issue that despite the war, permission was granted in June 1942 to excavate the bottom stages of a projected new defence system. During a raid on April 21st 1941, bombs fell and hit the makeshift wall so that the sea found its way. Since the work has been completed in 1942 erosion has stopped (so they say) and the shape of the coastline has remained the same since 1944. The threat of course, remains. The Churchyard was being washed away and it is said that even as late as 1953, bones could be seen hanging over the edge of the cliff! No wonder that going for walks along the cliffs is still popular with dogs!
Note – following picture added 8th Oct 2012 (thanks to David who commented on this page)