Is Lowestoft becoming 'party central' of the east coast?

The spectacular laser light display at Claremont Pier in Lowestoft.

The spectacular laser light display at Claremont Pier in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

Lowestoft is quickly becoming party central of the east coast, according to one hospitality boss after a spate of new openings.

David Moss, whose Moss and Co company reopened the Harbour Inn last month, said the move was part of a "trend" that was seeing Lowestoft's nightlife becoming increasingly popular.

Since the first national coronavirus lockdown, a number of venues have reopened with a new look and new optimism about the future.

Michael and Victoria Manning, with their brother-in-law, Ben Llewellyn, centre, where their roof ter

Michael and Victoria Manning, with their brother-in-law, Ben Llewellyn, centre, where their roof terrace will be created at their new beach bar Piranha Joes at the Claremont Pier in Lowestoft. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

A brand new club, called The Venue, opened on Lowestoft's Claremont Pier over the August bank holiday weekend, replacing the former 900 person capacity music venue Aquarium.

Operating every Saturday night with a limited capacity of between 300-350, the Venue will also feature DJ sets on the terrace, offering an RnB, chilled house and dance vibe until the early hours of the morning.

Ben Llewellyn, one of the directors at Claremont Pier, said: "When we bought the pier we had no plans to open a nightclub, and it had been shut for a long time by then, but the feedback we were getting from customers was encouraging and we thought we would give it a go.

"We might have only been open two Saturdays now but we have been very surprised how busy we have been already. 

"We do get a vibe that there is a market there for nightlife. Oulton Broad had that defining thing for the last couple of years and Lowestoft has been a bit starved of nightclubs in recent years.

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"At the moment we are trying to make it sustainable, build it up and get Saturdays running smoothly and then we will think about Friday nights, maybe towards the end of November or start of December.

"It has only been two years but you forget what it is like to be in a nightclub. It is surreal and it feels so good to be back."

The Harbour was bought by Moss and Co Hospitality in spring.

The Harbour was bought by Moss and Co Hospitality in spring. - Credit: Nick Lane Marketing

At the nearby Harbour Inn, based at Bridge House opposite the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club, the revamp includes a new round bar, list of craft beers and a cocktail mixologist, and is also home to DJ booths, a dance floor and flower wall.

The bar, which is open now, has also linked up with popular Norwich burger brand Fupburger, while the former Faith nightclub will reopen once refurbishments are complete, with bosses hoping this will be by the end of the month.

Adam Vass, operations manager at Moss and Co, said: "With the new bridge being built, we know the council are looking to invest in the town centre and the walk to the beach.

The newly-reopened Harbour Inn, in Lowestoft.

The newly-reopened Harbour Inn, in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

"When you see the investment in the East Point Pavilion and what the team at the Claremont Pier have done, you can tell people are excited again.

"With our investment too, I really think the potential for this part of the town is great and it is freshening up the town.

"Oulton Broad is great but we have seen a decline in customers there because people want something different."

The newly-reopened Harbour Inn, in Lowestoft.

The newly-reopened Harbour Inn, in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

"The tide is definitely turning."

Gull Wing, the third crossing over Lake Lothing, is currently under construction and is expected to significantly ease daily congestion on the bascule bridge near to the seafront.

Mr Vass said: "There is a bit of a long term plan for once the majority of traffic is taken away when the new bridge opens, which will improve the walk to the beach from the town centre.

"It is a nice walk along the seafront like the old days.

"There is more of an attraction to this part of town. There is something different and it is a good, fun time."

Earlier this week, plans were revealed to bring the former Shish site back into use as a pub and restaurant, while away from the seafront, Toby Westgarth and Dominic Burke, also moved their popular Norwich market-based business east, taking over the Stanford Arms pub earlier this year.

Tiffins nightclub above the shops in Station Square, Lowestoft.

Tiffins nightclub above the shops in Station Square, Lowestoft.

Lowestoft's lost nightlife

While memories of the Aquarium and Faith are fresher in the mind, a number of popular hotspots have been lost over the years.

The former Shish restaurant, on Esplanade, closed its doors in September 2019, but has been a popular destination in the town for decades, previously as Hush Hush, The Arena and Hanks Bar.

In Carlton Colville, Hedley House has since been transformed into the Carlton Manor Hotel, while Station Square hotspot Tiffins will bring back many fond memories for countless visitors who danced the night away above the shops below.

The Brown Boat Suite at the Wherry in Oulton Broad may now be a popular wedding destination, but welcomed hundreds of visitors as a weekend nightclub venue in years gone by.

Five years ago, the owners of the Escape nightclub in Oulton Broad announced its closure, along with the Winelodge bar, which came shortly after a request to sell alcohol until 2am was rejected amid anti-social behaviour concerns.

Several pubs in the town have also been lost over the years, including the Alderman on Hollingsworth Road, the Eagle Tavern on Tonning Street, and the Crown Hotel on High Street, which remains boarded up after closing in 2009.

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