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Behind the scaffolding at the former Post Office

An update on the restoration works to the Grade II listed former Post Office, delivered through the London Road, Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone.

January 2022 marked the beginning of a new year, as well as the start of the beginning of the restoration of the former Post Office on London Road North. Unlike the failed new year’s resolutions of learning to speak Japanese and how to play the guitar, conservation repairs have been off to a successful start at the Post Office over the past 8 months, and will be completed this winter.

Unfortunately, much of the amazing conservation repairs being undertaken to the building are hidden behind an enormous amount of scaffolding so has not been visible from the street. We therefore want to share the exciting work which has been happening at the Post Office, being delivered by a superb project team comprising of Chaplin Farrant (Lead Architects), Kings and Dunne (Conservation Architects), The Morton Partnership (Structural Engineers), and multi-disciplined site team of RG Carter (Lead Contractor), Aldis and May (Conservation Specialists), Abbeygate Masonry (Stone Masons), Oakhill Group (Decorating), Apex Scaffolding (Scaffolding) with many other subcontractors involved in the project too.

So, back to the beginning.

The London Road, Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) is one of 2 heritage led regeneration schemes in Lowestoft, funded by East Suffolk Council and Historic England, delivered in partnership with Lowestoft Town Council, East Suffolk Building Preservation Trust and Lowestoft Vision. The schemes use funding to improve the appearance and condition of buildings, repairing traditional detailing, reinstating lost architectural features and bringing vacant buildings back into use to help regenerate the area.

The former Post Office was purchased by East Suffolk Council in 2017 and repairs to the external fabric of the Grade II listed building are a key project for the outcomes of the London Road, Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone.

Figure 1: Former Post Office, 2019 prior to conservation repairs commencing on site (Image courtesy Kate Ellis)

History of the building

The Post Office was designed as a single storey building in the 1880s and was the first dedicated Post Office in Lowestoft, replacing operations which were previously taking place in Post Masters’ houses. The building was extended to provide a first floor around the turn of the century, and second floor around 1909.

Figure 2 – Drawing from 1909 of the extension to the Post Office to provide the second floor (Image Courtesy of the National Archives, Kew)

Work being undertaken

The building suffered from a series of unsympathetic alterations during the 20th century, including re-roofing with asbestos tiles, replacing the ground floor timber sashes with aluminium windows, removing the original entrance door, and relocating it to the side of the façade.

The funding through the London Road, Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone and Towns Fund has allowed East Suffolk Council to carry out a detailed schedule of repairs to the external fabric of the building. This includes replacing heavily weathered balusters at the parapet, timber repairs to the roof structure, repairs to the chimneys including some replacement of stone, and renewing leadwork and rainwater goods. In addition, specialist conservators are completing air lime repointing, consolidation, and mortar repairs to the façade, as well as the removal of algae, lichens, sulphation crusts, dirt, and a linseed oil surface coating.

Figure 3 – Image illustrating the level of sulphation on the exterior of the Post Office at ground floor, with cleaning trials completed in January 2022 to determine an approach for cleaning of the stonework. Conservators Aldis and May used Thermatech to steam clean the surface level dirt from the building, and chemical poultices to remove the more stubborn areas of sulphation and linseed oil.

Figure 4 – Before and After: The stone balusters at the parapet were heavily weathered and showed significant signs of deterioration. As many of the original balusters were retained as possible, but many have been replaced replicating the profile of the original design, as can be seen in the second image.

Figure 4 – Before and After: The stone balusters at the parapet were heavily weathered and showed significant signs of deterioration. As many of the original balusters were retained as possible, but many have been replaced replicating the profile of the original design, as can be seen in the second image.

Figure 5 – Image showing the roof in March 2022 once scaffold access was provided to the roof. The asbestos tiles have been carefully removed and safely disposed of, and the roof will be replaced with natural Welsh slates as per the original design during the later summer

The Post Office has over 50 sliding sash windows which all needed repairing in some form – some splice repairs to replace areas of rotten timber, others needed reglazing, and all needed their sash cords overhauling to make sure the windows open properly and safely. All the windows were carefully stripped to remove the layers of previous paint to allow a clean surface for the repainting of the windows and frames with a linseed oil paint.

Figure 6 – Example of splice repairs completed to the original windows to replace rotten areas of timber. The original method of numbering the windows in Roman numerals can be seen on the middle sash

Figure 7 – Image showing the windows which have been repaired, primed with the linseed oil paint and ready for reinstallation


Works are mostly complete to the stonework, and the roofing work is also due to commence over the coming weeks, both significant milestones in the progress of the conservation repairs to the Post Office.

The final phase of works in this project will be to reinstate the entrance door back to the middle of the building, as per the original design. The modern aluminium windows at the ground floor will also be replaced with sliding sash windows to reinstate the original features of the building.

Figure 8 – CGI of the former Post Office upon completion with the reinstatement of the entrance to the centre of the building and reintroduction of the ground floor sash windows

We were thrilled to open the doors of the Post Office back in June, when we held sessions for the public with the support of the specialist craftspeople working on site to explore the principles of traditional repairs, using lime mortars, repairing original timber sashes, the use of linseed oil paint for historic joinery, and the importance of breathability in historic buildings.


Figure 9: Public engagement talks to share knowledge and information about traditional building skills and repairs techniques

The conservation repairs project being delivered by the London Road, Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone will be completed this winter. This will leave the listed building restored externally and allow for the next phase of conversion works to commence in 2023. We look forward to bringing you more information on the future use of the building in due course.

If you want to keep updated with the conservation repairs taking place at the Post Office, follow @LowestoftHAZ and @ThinkLowestoft on social media.