Funding to boost Great Yarmouth’s historic Waterways and Winter Gardens
PUBLISHED: 10:01 01 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:01 01 August 2017
They are two of the jewels of Great Yarmouth’s historic seafront.
The Waterways and the Winter Gardens have been giving joy to visitors for years.
And now millions of pounds are being pumped into their regeneration.
Plans for new cinemas, restaurants and a casino have recently been approved and a decision on the long awaited third river crossing is expected by September.
Chairman of Great Yarmouth borough council’s economic development committee, Barry Coleman, said: “The borough council is committed to working with partners, including Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund, to conserve, enhance and promote the borough’s rich built heritage as a way of further supporting the local economy and communities.
“Great Yarmouth has built a national reputation for delivering on historic buildings conservation, and this is reflected in our success in securing significant external funding for a range of projects over the years, including for St George’s Theatre, Time and Tide Museum and more recently for the Waterways restoration.
“The Waterways Restoration Project is well underway, with work on-site due to start in spring, and we urge people to remain patient while preparation progresses ‘behind the scenes’. Considerable work has also taken place to help bring the Winter Gardens back into use, with the council last week agreeing a £20,000 investment to develop a comprehensive business plan and analysis for a sustainable reuse of the Winter Gardens that reflects this special building’s historical horticultural origins.
“While the council does not own many of the historic seafront buildings, bringing back into use the Waterways and Winter Gardens – both landmark council-owned buildings at either end of the seafront – will support the regeneration of the whole seafront, helping to bring in private sector investment, in addition to boosting the important tourism economy and civic pride.”
Thanks to a grant of over £1.7m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund Parks for People Programme, the borough council is working closely with Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust to restore the Waterways.
First opened in 1928, the Grade II-listed park and tourist attraction in North Drive was commissioned by the council as an unemployment relief programme after the First World War, with the community undertaking its construction.
The Venetian Waterways, as they are also known, became hugely popular with generations of holidaymakers and residents alike enjoying rides in quirky boats with carved wooden animal heads, and walks in the beautiful surrounding parkland, which originally boasted a radical nationally-acclaimed planting scheme.
It is hoped works will be completed in two years time and will bring back 1920s style wooden boats.
There are also plans to grow plants to the original planting scheme.
Once described as a ‘people’s palace of glass and steel’ and a ‘seafront cathedral of light’, it is fair to say the Winter Gardens have seen better days.
The borough council has recently allocated £20,000 to develop a lottery funding bid to renovate the glass house.
The Grade II*-listed building, the second highest level of listing, was built in Torquay, Devon, before being relocated to the east coast by barge.
It was originally built by John Watson and William Harvey between 1878 and 1881 at a cost of £12,783, before it was moved to Yarmouth in 1904.
The borough council’s surveyor at the time, John William Cockrill, helped secure their purchase for just £1,300.
He said: “It would lengthen the season with better class visitors, and on wet days to provide for 2,000 persons under cover.”