In early 1900s Lowestoft’s fishing village – known as The Grit – was the most easterly community in the country, right next to the North Sea and home to 2,300 people, three schools, churches, shops and 13 pubs. There was a strong sense of independence and community spirit among the often poor ‘Gritsters’.
Drawing on the recollections of those who lived there, The Grit – written by Dean Parkin and Jack Rose – was the first book entirely devoted to the Beach Village and its people. Originally published in 1997, it quickly became a local bestseller and is now considered an East Anglian oral history classic.
This 2019 edition of The Grit has been comprehensively revised by Dean Parkin to draw on new interviews, documentary evidence and recently discovered manuscripts. There is an additional final chapter, to bring the story of The Grit up to the present day, and the book has been freshly designed to feature 120 new photographs plus specially-commissioned illustrations by Lowestoft artist Paula White.
Charting the origins and heyday of The Grit, this book tells the real-life stories behind the hardships of the 1920s and 1930s, the devastation caused by the Second World War and the 1953 flood, the collapse of the herring industry, and the final demolition of the village in the 1960s to make way for a new industrial estate.
Yet through all this, The Grit celebrates the community spirit that made it such a special place to grow up, live and work. As Jack Rose always said, “Why was it called The Grit? Well, sand is grit in’t it? And you needed a lot of grit to live there!"