Conservation award win for 19th century Lowestoft Post Office

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Left to Right – Cllr Anthony Speca, Chairman of East Suffolk Council;
Katie May Langridge, Aldis and May; Sam Aldis, Aldis and May;
Rebecca Styles, Heritage Action Zone and PSiCA Project Manager for East Suffolk Council, Gavin Leeks, Building Solutions Manager, R G Carter.

The Grade II listed former Post Office building in Lowestoft, has won a prestigious accolade at the East Suffolk Council’s Quality of Place Awards 2023, winning first place in the Conservation category.

The awards recognise and encourage an interest in the quality of the built and natural environment of the district and promote an awareness of the need for high standards in all forms of design, including planning, architecture, sustainable development, landscaping and community engagement.

Purchased by East Suffolk Council in 2018 as part of a wider programme to boost regeneration in the town centre, the project to restore this 19th century building was made possible through the London Road, Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone project, funded by Historic England, East Suffolk Council and the Towns Fund.

Local contractor R G Carter, started restoration works to the building at the start of 2022, working with architects Chaplin Farrant and Kings and Dunne, and heritage specialists to restore the external façade of the Grade II listed building. The completed works included over 60 sash windows refurbished and restored by carpenters from R G Carter, with Oak Hill stripping and preserving each frame with traditional linseed oil. The roof was also reinstated with natural Welsh slates and the ground floor restored to its original appearance.

The conservation to the external fabric of the building, led by Aldis & May, started with steam cleaning all three storeys of stonework, followed by air lime repointing, consolidation and mortar repairs to walls and decorative features such as cornices and balusters, as well as removing algae, sulphation crusts, dirt, and a linseed oil surface coating. Heavily weathered balusters at the parapet were replaced, and repairs to the chimneys and leadwork and rainwater goods renewed.

On their site visit in October, the Quality of Place Awards judging panel were impressed with the scope of the work, and the attention to detail that was behind every decision. They praised the team for their dedication to ensuring that every intervention was sensitive to the historic materials, and for their engagement with the local community during the project. They were happy to see the positive impact that the restoration has already had London Road North and excited to see the Post Office become a lively place once more, which this restoration will enable.

Gavin Leeks, from R G Carter says; “We are delighted that the Post Office has received this conservation award in recognition of the craftmanship and commitment of everyone involved. It has been an honour to be part of this unique project and to play our part in bringing this important local building back to its former glory and preserve the rich architectural heritage in Lowestoft.”

Tony Calladine, East Regional Director, Historic England, said: “Congratulations to everyone involved in the restoration of the former Post Office in Lowestoft on this well-deserved award. This important local landmark has been a central project of the London Road Heritage Action Zone and it’s wonderful to see the building repaired, restored, and ready for a new life. I’m looking forward to seeing people exploring and enjoying the revitalised space.”

In May 2023, the high quality of the conservation repairs project was also recognised with the RIBA Suffolk Individual Craftmanship Award.

Thanks to this flagship restoration project, the Post Office will once again benefit the people of Lowestoft. A conversion phase will commence in 2024 for the Post Office to become a new cultural arts space run by Messums, recognised for revitalising old buildings and embedding them within communities.