Before 1926 Normanston Hall was in Beccles Road (Way), Lowestoft and afterwards in Normanston Drive. There was a farmhouse on this site before 1618 that was known as “No Mans Land”. In the Manor Roll of 1618 the following appears “The same person (Robert Jettor) holds one house, with two adjoining enclosures of arable land and pasture abutting onto Beccles Way to the north and onto common pasture to the south. Area 12 acres: In the western (eastern) part of this messauge is Holetts Chieve, once held by John Jettor”. The present house was built in the early 18th Century and was once owned by Sir Thomas Allin who later owned Somerleyton Hall.
In 1785 the poet Thomas Crabbe, who was staying with George Borrow at Lavengro on the edge of Oulton Broad at the time, wrote about Normanston Hall “There were three or four spinsters of independent means who have formed a sort of Protestant Nunnery” In 1812, Rev. Michael Maurice sold the house by private contract to John Plowman Esq. He kept up the House until 1832 when it was sold by auction at the Angel Hotel, Norwich.
The Leathes family were major landowners in the Lowestoft area also owning Herringfleet Hall. Edward Leathes (1798-1871) bought Normanston Hall in 1832 and owned it until his death. It was inherited by his son William (1845-1928) who lived in it until 1891. William’s brother Philip lived in it from 1891 to 1902 when his daughter Miss M. Leathes inhabited it. Leathes Ham at the bottom of Normanston Park and Leathes Close are named after this family.
In 1906 after the death of Miss Leathes, Normanston Hall was put up for auction by the firm of Knight, Frank and Rutley at the Mart, Tokenhouse Yard, London E.C. The auction included the house, the grounds (Normanston Park) and two cottages. The purchaser was Sir Arthur Monckton. Sir Arthur Monckton (after whom Monckton Crescent and Monckton Avenue are named) owned Normanston House until 1922 when it was acquired for use as an Isolation Hospital for Tuberculosis.
Normanston Hall was used for this purpose under two Medical Superintendents (Dr, Hedley Cross field MB and Dr. Malcolm Macdonald MC, MB, ChB and one matron Miss E. Ashton SRN) until 1945 when it was vacated. Between 1947 and 1962 it was used as changing rooms for Normanston Park. It was demolished in 1963.
The auction catalogue in 1906 described Normanston Hall as “an extremely spacious gentlemen’s residence within easy reach of Lowestoft, Oulton Broad and Gt. Yarmouth”. The ground floor consisted of a morning room (17’ 3” by 15’ 3”); dining room (23’ by 17’ 6”); drawing room (31’ 6” by 17”) with two fireplaces opening by casement doors to the grounds and communicating with the library (16’ by 13’ 6”), which had fitted shelves and cupboards. The ground floor also consisted of the usual domestic offices including the kitchen (18’ 6” by 17’ 3”), which had a range, a high pressure boiler; a sink, cupboards together with a butlers pantry, a housekeepers room and two other pantries, a larder and a dairy together with stairs to the cellar.
The first floor had six principal bedrooms (17’ by 14’ 6”; 14’ by 12’ 6”; 17’ by 15’; 14’ by 12’; 16’ by 17’ 6” and 14’ by 10’ 9”); three separate servants bedrooms reached by a separate staircase from the kitchen, a linen room and a bathroom (h & c) with a modern pedestal wc. The top floor had five servants’ bedrooms. There was a “substantial brick and tiled stabling block with a direct entrance from the road, two loose boxes, two stall stables, a harness room and a three division coach house”. There were 64 acres of parkland (including Leathes Ham) and 18 acres of land used for agricultural purposes let to John Boggis at £85 pa. There were also two brick tiled and thatched cottages.
Ayers Buildings – Beach Village
There is no mention of any street called Ayers (or Ayres) Buildings on the Beach Village. However in the 1881 census there appears the following entry.
Ayers Buildings Beach Road (this later became East Street).
This consisted of two dwelling houses and was on the corner of Beach Road and Coleman Square. Unfortunately the entries are undecipherable but there was only one-person in each house. I cannot find any reference to these buildings anywhere else. It is thought that this was a local nickname for these properties.
St. Margaret’s Institute
In 1911 a buildings committee of St. Margaret’s church consisting of Basil Charlsworth MA, JP (chairman); Frank Peskett (secretary); I. T. Sanger (treasurer); E. L. Henderson MA (rector of Lowestoft); Lancelot Orde JP and Arthur Stebbings JP (churchwardens) was appointed to raise the £5000 needed to build the institute and to appoint an architect. Henry Blyth MSA, RIBA of Victoria Chambers, 62 London Road North submitted the plans to Lowestoft Town Council. The plans were approved at the General Purposes Committee held on 12th April 1911 at the Town Hall. The Town Council that met on 25th April 1911 at the Town Hall confirmed this decision.
The plans stated that the institute would be built on two floors in Gothic style with a façade of red brick and bath stone. There were to be three entrances with the main one leading from the front. The girl’s entrance was to be on the left had side and the boy’s on the right. The main entrance will lead to the Crush Hall measuring 18’ by 15’ 9” with ladies and gents cloakrooms. The 5’ wide staircase will lead to a large assembly hall 60’ by 30’ by 21’ 6” high would be capable of seating 450 people. A platform convertible into a stage will be erected. Folding partitions on the left and right will form seven classrooms when necessary. On the ground floor will be three classrooms, a billiard room 24’ square, a reading room 12’ by 17’, a small hall 36’ by 24’ and a kitchen. The heating apparatus will be installed in the basement.
Two foundation stones were laid on 7th September 1911 in the presence of Rev. R. Bignold (Rural Dean); Mrs T. E. Thirtle (Mayoress of Lowestoft) and the buildings committee. The first stone read, “This stone was laid by Canon A. D. Tupper-Carey MA on 7th September 1911, B. A. Charlsworth MA, JP chairman of committee; I. T. Sanger treasurer; F. Peskett secretary; E. L. Henderson MA rector; Lancelot Orde JP; Arthur Stebbings JP churchwardens; H. F. W. Blyth architect.
The inscription on the second stone read, “This institute is erected as a testimonial to the work of Canon A. D. Tupper-Carey MA, rector of Lowestoft 1901 – 1910”. The contractors were Mobbs Bros. Ltd and the stonework was by Mr. W. Whitehead. Canon Tupper-Carey opened the institute on 19th September 1912.
In 1970 the institute became an annexe for Lowestoft College of Further Education. A & R Motorcycles took over the premises in 1999. Cunningham’s Accountants now own the institute.
Benjamin was born on 29th October 1804 and died on 24th August 1878 the son of William and Sarah Cook (nee Butcher). He had two brothers Rumour (born 1805) and Matthew. He was a bathing machine proprietor and fishing boat owner (the Beeswing). From 1846 he lived in the Beach Village probably in Cook’s Buildings.
In 1845, Benjamin Cook acquired a piece of land near the end of Old Nelson Street in Whapload Road. This was on the site that is now John Grose car dealers. It is highly likely that he built the properties that became Cook’s Buildings on this site
He married Charlotte (born 1804) and had three sons; Thomas Robert (born 1834), David (1844) and Charles (1850) and six daughters Anne Mary (1828), Eliza (1830), Louisa (1836), Hannah (1838), Isabella (1840) and Fanny (1846).
William T Balls sold the bathing machine business on behalf of Benjamin’s son David at an auction held on Thursday 13th July 1904. Included in the sale were thirteen bathing machines (eleven double and one single), three wooden sheds, a capstan, a selection of towels, bathing dresses, chairs and ropes as well as the Beeswing, a 19 foot, 4 oared copper-fastened boat.
Benjamin acquired the Beeswing in 1853 from the Kessingland Beach Company. It was an ex lifeboat
In 1858 the firm of P. Brand & Son tailors and outfitters was established in Broad Row, Gt. Yarmouth establishing a branch at 96 High Street in 1864. They commenced making waterproof clothing in 1872 by which time William and Henry Brand ran the firm. Branches were established at 54 South Denes Road Gt. Yarmouth in 1875 and at 10 London Road North in 1879. The firm concentrated its business at 10 London Road North in 1896 and closed in 1908.
John Bishop & Son
In 1844 John Porter Bishop established a Braziers business in the High Street transferring to 2 Dukes Head Street in 1846 becoming a tinner as well. He carried on in business at this address until 1858 when he transferred to 3 London Road. He worked here on his own account until 1874 when he was joined by his brother Edward and became brazier’s coppersmiths and ironmongers trading as Bishop Bros. They traded under this name until 1891 when Edward opened a branch at 3 Whapload Road (the 1891 census lists John Porter aged 53 a coppersmith born Oulton; John Keith Bishop aged 18 son a shop assistant born Oultonand Edward William Bishop aged 60 brother ironmonger born Oulton) at 3 London Road and 3 Whapload Road (the 1891 census lists at 3 Whapload RoadEdward’s sonEdward Bishop aged 30 Ironmonger born Oulton Hannah Bishop aged 31 wife born Gunton; John Bishop aged 12 son born Lowestoft and Hannah Bishop aged 10 daughter born Lowestoft)
By 1901 John Keith Bishop aged 28 had become a confectioner and was married to Ellen Bishop aged 27 born Lowestoft with twin daughters Annie and Noele aged 3 born Lowestoft. 3 London Road became 185 London Road North in 1898 and the Bishop’s ran this shop until 1970 when the business was transferred to 3 Whapload Road. John Keith Bishop ran the confectioners until 1925 when it was taken over by Annie and Noele. The 1927 electoral register entry for 1 Whapload Road has Annie & Noele Bishop being eligible to vote on 28/12/27. The two sisters would have to have been 30 on this date therefore were born on 28th December 1897.
Lowestoft Co-Operative Society Ltd Lowestoft
This was established in the Lowestoft area as Lowestoft Co-operative Stores Ltd in about 1900 with the first shop being situated at 64 Clapham Road. Two more shops at 267 London Road South and 2/6 Bridge Road Oulton Broad were opened in 1909 with the Oulton Broad shop moving to 123 Bridge Road in 1911 when the other one was burnt down. By 1916 when the name of the society had been changed to Lowestoft Co-operative Society, the Clapham Road site had been extended to No’s 64 to 76. The South Lowestoft branch had moved to 237/239 London Road South. The society had established a bakery in Alexandra Road and had acquired some premises in Till Road to house some stables.
The period between 1919 and 1938 saw a major expansion by the Lowestoft Co-operative Society. New branches were opened at 60 St. Margaret’s Road, Belvedere Road (coal depot), and 133 London Road North (butchery) (1919); Parade Road South (dairy), 102 Norwich Road (1927); 40 Bridge Road Oulton Broad (butchery), Jubilee Buildings, London Road Pakefield (grocery), 120 Bevan Street (cycle agents) (1938). The Clapham Road shop had expanded to include No’s 64 to 80 by this time.
Unfortunately, the co-op suffered a major catastrophe when its Clapham Road shop was severely bombed in 1941. Most departments were transferred to the 133 London Road North shop
After the war, further expansion took place with new shops opening at 23 Fir Lane, 28 Long Road and 4 Harris Avenue in 1948 with shops being hired to takes the departments that had been bombed out. These included the men’s outfitters at 85/86 High Street, the drapery at 155 London Road South and furnishings and hardware at 61/67 London Road North with a small shop and garage/workshop at 80 Clapham Road. In 1960, a major development took place at the 133 London Road North shop with a brand new department store including grocery, butchery, confectionery, drapery, furnishings, electrical, menswear, footwear and off-licence. This now covered No’s 133-141 London Road North and is now the Westgate department store. During the 60s and 70s, further shops opened including Gresham Avenue Oulton Broad, 71 Hollingsworth Road (to replace the one in Harris Avenue) and 143 Oulton Road (to replace the one in Fir Lane).
Other branches were situated at The Street Somerleyton, Wash Lane Kessingland, Sealands Hopton and Queen Street Southwold