diamond geezer

 Tuesday, November 15, 2016

compass pointsCompass points
(an occasional feature where I visit Great Britain's geographical extremities)
EAST - Ness Point, Lowestoft

The easternmost point in Great Britain is in the easternmost county, which is Suffolk, in the easternmost town, which is Lowestoft. Southwold would be nicer, but that's three miles further west. Great Yarmouth is closer, but wouldn't necessarily be an improvement. So Lowestoft it is, and not even the nice bit of Lowestoft, which I can assure you does exist. I headed to Britain's easternmost station, crossed its easternmost high street, and walked down to its easternmost extremity. A compass beneath a turbine beyond an industrial estate.


The train arrives in Lowestoft up the side of a saltwater lake, part of the much depleted (but still functioning) fishing port. Numerous sidings used to run down to the dockside, now generally brownfield and ripe for redevelopment, but still with silos, hangars and cranes. The harbour is crossed by a bascule bridge which opens less frequently than it used to, and leads to the other half of town, with the elegant seafront you'd hope a former seaside would have. Once 'the Brighton of East Anglia', a broad promenade and sandy beach sweep down to Claremont Pier, the end of which is sealed from public access behind a couple of restaurants and a nightclub. A handful of gardens with floral displays provide the foreground to a long run of Victorian villas, in one of which Benjamin Britten was born, but very few of which are now hotels. This is not the easternmost bit.



Lowestoft's main shopping street is in two very distinct halves. The part leading up from the station is pedestrianised, not especially beautifully, as part of the changes wrought to the town centre when traffic was banished to an encircling gyratory. The retail offering is good, as befits a town with seventy thousand residents, but not as good as it would be were the local economy in better shape. There's an M&S and a Waterstones, plus Beales department store, but also a proliferation of Poundstretchers and Peacocks for the daytime demographic to enjoy. Still, when the local independent bakery does lush Chelsea buns for 63p, and checks carefully through all those in the window to find you the best one, who's complaining?

Beyond the one-way system the ambience changes completely, this the original high street and surprisingly well preserved. The Triangle Market attracts a few shoppers, or drinkers, and provides a handful of parking spaces around the fish and chip kiosk. The rising High Street contains a mix of old shopfronts and huddled houses, one of which contains the town's Heritage Centre, and many of which eke out a living as takeaways. A dazzling array of independent boutiques could find an ideal home here, but this is not Margate, nor ever likely to be.



The Old Town's most interesting feature is a sequence of eleven narrow alleyways, called Scores, leading steeply down towards the shore. These once linked the fishing industry at the bottom to homes up top, and had names like Crown Score, Mariners Score and Spurgeon Score. I took Maltsters Score, whose double dogleg was supposedly introduced to make mugging fisherfolk easier, a vibe it's still easy to imagine on the descent past litter-strewn backyards watched over by a startled cat. I would have taken Rant Score, because this lines up most directly with Britain's easternmost point, except the fish finger factory is in the way.

Birds Eye's last remaining UK factory covers a large area of Lowestoft Denes, the beachfront lowland that's long been the centre of the town's fish processing industry. 800 people work here inside a large corrugated shed, churning out rice fusions and whatever other newfangled frozen stuff sells these days. They also own a brick lockup outlet close by, the Birds Eye Store, which genuinely is the answer to the fabled question "Why did the one-eyed chicken cross the road?" Neighbours include carpet showrooms, van hire and builders merchants, plus the easternmost bus garage in the UK, a gasholder and a sewage treatment plant. If Great Britain's other cardinal points are rugged and scenic, Ness Point is anything but.



The one waterside structure you can't miss is 'Gulliver', in its day the tallest wind turbine in the UK. This white spike rises 126m from the ground - a fraction shorter than the London Eye - with three spinning petals that cast periodic shadows across the sea wall. It's here because the town is seeking to reinvent itself as a centre of renewable energy, hence the opening of an adjacent business centre hub in 2008 part-funded by the EU. This closely resembles a concrete grandstand, with five terraced storeys looking out across the featureless North Sea, and a suite of underused conference facilities and meeting rooms within. A huge 100-stalk wind farm is planned 30 miles off the coast, provisionally named East Anglia One, which should be operational by the end of the decade.

Gulliver very nearly marks the most easterly point in Britain, but that honour goes to the minor headland at Ness Point, not so much a bulge as a bend in the coast. To reach it head down Gasworks Road, the easternmost road in Britain, and step through the gate in the flood defence wall. There's an artificial feel to the shoreline, a waveproof concrete promenade lined by large chunky boulders to create a breakwater, and which signs warn against attempting to climb. On my visit someone had tied a bouquet of Morrisons red roses to the railings, reduced from a fiver to £3.75, suggesting that this place is indeed dangerous, or has a fateful allure. A small car park has been provided up top to leave your vehicle.



Look down to see the Euroscope, a large paved compass which is the official monument to Britain's easternmost scrap of land. Around the outer metal ring are distances to several places around Europe, including Minsk, Luxembourg and Andorra, as well as to Great Britain's other three cardinal extremes (Dunnet Head 472 miles, Ardnamurchan Point 453 miles, Lizard 352 miles). If you're cycling, jogging or walking to any of them, it's a very long way. Three different sunrise markers are provided, two for the solstices and one for the equinoxes. But think twice if you're planning to be first to watch the dawn - at this time of year Dover sees the sun four or five minutes earlier, and at midsummer John O'Groats wins by almost half an hour.

Annoyingly a sewage outfall pipe pokes out beyond the headland, encased in concrete and shielded by boulders, potentially possible to walk along but again with warning signs strongly recommending against. A single fisherman had ignored the cautionary notice, and a set of metal railings, and was busy dangling a rod into the warm emergent flow several metres out to sea. It would have been dangerous, gauche and intrusive to join him, and he wasn't going anywhere soon, so I had to make do with being merely the second most easterly person on the mainland, my ultimate target missed. A most peculiar place, this accident of geography, in the less than mystic East.



» Sixteen easterly Lowestoft photos


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain
#coronavirus

read the archive
Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv