Over the centuries the word Lowestoft has been spelt in many ways. Lothu Wistoft, as given in the Domesday Book of 1085/6, is a derivation from the Norse meaning Hloover/Hlothver’s toft or homestead, building or curtilage. It is the most easterly settlement in the United Kingdom and was originally a fishing village. Until the early 1800s all sea trade to Norwich went via Great Yarmouth and the River Yare as Lowestoft had no harbour and Lake Lothing was quite literally a lake.
The Norwich Mercury of January 1819 refers to the idea of forming a harbour at Lowestoft and joining the Rivers Waveney and Yare by a canal one mile long (the New Cut). In the early 1820s William Cubbitt of Ipswich conducted surveys. Although there was opposition from Great Yarmouth, the Norwich and Lowestoft Navigation Act was passed on 28th May 1827 and the contracts for the sea lock signed on 3 July 1827. To deepen parts of Lake Lothing and Oulton Broad, Jabez Bailey built a dredger on land near Lake Lothing and the Excavator was launched on 18 December 1828 and dredging started. Mutford Lock was completed first and opened on 27 March 1830 by the sloop Rose, which brought the heel posts of the balance gates for the Lowestoft Lock, and parts for the swing bridge. The Harbour Bridge was opened on 9 June 1830 and the harbour itself opened to shipping on 27 May 1831 with the arrival of the yacht Ruby owned by Rev Maurice Suckling. The official opening was on 10 August 1831. After some years the harbour lock was no longer used and Lake Lothing became tidal.