The Minutes of Lowestoft’s Emergency Committee covers the period from 1939-1943 although there are no entries for 1940.
By August / September 1939 Air Raid Precautions in Lowestoft were well under way. The Borough Surveyor reported that the scheme for the provision of public air raid shelters for people caught out in the streets during and air raid had commenced, and was to provide shelter at a level of about 10% of the population. The following private buildings were being adapted:
Mass concrete shelters were being constructed as follows:
Work was also to commence on surface shelters at:
Other schemes underway or being drawn up included:
- The Neptune Bathing Chalets and shelters being protected by a timber framed barrier filled with sand
- The Royal Hotel had offered its basements as use as shelter (this would give protection for 100 persons)
- Hervey Street School – would necessitate the removal of a high roof to be replaced with a reinforced concrete flat roof
- Shelters to be considered at the junction of Harold Road and College Road (for 100 persons) and Pakefield Road and one on allotments adjoining Kirkley Cemetary. A shelter for 50 persons on the island opposite the Central station was later included in the scheme.
A Chief Assistant Engineer was appointed to oversee the process of assessing the number of Government issued Anderson Shelters required as part of General Air Raids Precaution Scheme. This was completed by October 1939 when 10 sample shelters were received and erected at Smiths Marsh and in the ground of Southwell Road Clinic to show the various steps of erection.
Arrangements were made to excavate sand from North Denes to be issued free of charge to the public. Steps had also been taken at the Town Hall to strengthen the strong room for document storage and as an air raid shelter. Sand bags had been purchased for the protection of the following:
- Town Clerk’s General Office
- 16,000 sandbags for the protection of sewage pumping stations
- Lowestoft and North Suffolk Hospital
- 40,000 sandbags for the protection of electricity works, sub-stations etc.
Mention is also made of trench shelters in the Committee Minutes. It was noted that the appointed contractor for school trench shelters could no longer carry out the agreed work at the stated cost due to an increase in labour and material costs. The Committee resolved to meet with the contractor but the outcome of any meeting is not recored in the minutes. A letter was received from the Home Office dated October 2nd asking for a return of request for concrete trench shelter linings - Lowestoft put in a nil return.
The Borough Surveyor had purchased stocks of cement, timber, cast iron, roofing materials, felt, wall boards, sewer pipes and fodder for storage. Much of this air raid precaution work was done by the Borough’s Works Service with all other non essential work reduced (e.g. street cleaning and refuse collection) or closed down.
Fire Brigade arrangements were also well under way with 320 auxiliary firemen enrolled. Additional telephones had also been provided for the Fire Stations. In September The Home Office issued one 1,000 gallon canvass dam and three 500 gallon canvass dams for the use of the Fire Brigade. On August 4th, the Committee received consent for the borrowing of £1,250 for the purchase of a fire engine and equipment. Lowestoft, along with Great Yarmouth and Southwold enterd an agreemnt with Lothingland Rural District Council to provide fire services in the Lothingland Rural District area.
The Government Evacuation Scheme was under way by September. Between 7,000 to 8,000 persons had been evacuated to Lowestoft over three days (Sept 1st to 3rd). They were all then evacuated to neighboring areas on Sept 5th.
By September the War Establishment of the Decontamination and Demolition services had been called up and were on full time duty. The Lowestoft and District Master Builders Association stated that it would do everything possible to assist with carrying out “first aid” repairs as a result of War Damage.
The War Agricultural Executive Committee had approached the Borough Surveyor about utilizing Corporation land for cultivation purposes. It was resolved to utilize the Lowestoft and District Allotments Association to arrange for the cultivation of land at the junction of Normanston Drive and Rotterdam Road and land at the rear of Pakefield school (original acquired for a playing field) for the duration of the War.
The question of people made homeless by enemy action was also raised – East Suffolk County Council was responsible for the provision of rest shelters but supplementary to this would be the need to find temporary accommodation for people made homeless for a period of 24 to 48 hours before more permanent billeting arrangements could be made. The Women’s Voluntary Service stated that they would be willing to help in drawing up a list of accommodation available.
Lowestoft emergency Committee minutes, SRO