£1.7m to bring boats back to Great Yarmouth’s Waterways

GREAT YARMOUTH
HOLIDAY MAKERS TAKING A TRIP ON THE WATERWAYS
DATED AUGUST 21ST 1955 OR 1956

GREAT YARMOUTH HOLIDAY MAKERS TAKING A TRIP ON THE WATERWAYS DATED AUGUST 21ST 1955 OR 1956 PLATE P2199 FOA Aug 2014 - Credit: Archant

Plans to restore a unique tourist attraction to its former glory have been given a boost after receiving a £1.7m grant.

The Waterways and gardens on North Drive in Great Yarmouth.
June 2016.
Picture: James Bass

The Waterways and gardens on North Drive in Great Yarmouth. June 2016. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Great Yarmouth's Venetian Waterways have been awarded the cash by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

First opened in 1928, the Grade II-listed park and tourist attraction in North Drive was commissioned by the borough council as an employment relief programme after the First World War, with the community undertaking its construction.

Quickly, it became hugely popular, with generations of holidaymakers and residents 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.

Now, thanks to a grant of £1,773,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund/Big Lottery Fund Parks for People Programme, the borough council is progressing plans with Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust to faithfully restore the attraction with people again able to hire boats.

GREAT YARMOUTH
BOAT TRIP ON WATERWAYS
DATED 1955
PLATE P6285

GREAT YARMOUTH BOAT TRIP ON WATERWAYS DATED 1955 PLATE P6285 - Credit: Archant


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Chairman of the trust Bernard Williamson, said the Venetian Waterways were unique.

'They are a mini Venice on the North Sea coast – and they hold a special place in the hearts of generations of residents and tourists, who kindly shared their stories and photos with us at the public consultation.

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'It is great that the community are behind this partnership project because the community is at the heart of the Waterways: local people built the Waterways, local people used the Waterways, and now they are at the centre of the project to restore and continue to maintain the Waterways for future generations to enjoy.

He added: 'We would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund for their vital support.'

GREAT YARMOUTH
PEOPLE IN BOATS ON WATERWAYS
NO DATE - 1950S
PLATE P6298

GREAT YARMOUTH PEOPLE IN BOATS ON WATERWAYS NO DATE - 1950S PLATE P6298 - Credit: Archant

What next?

The three-year project will involve much-needed repairs to the structures of the bridges, the Waterways and Boating Lake, thought to be the last surviving purpose-built concrete boating lake in the country. The café on the Boating Lake Island will also be renovated and re-opened to help fund the ongoing maintenance of the park.

PLACES / Y
YARMOUTH - BOAT LOAD OF HOLIDAYMAKERS TAKE A TRIP ON THE VENTIAN WATERWAYS
DATE; 24

PLACES / Y YARMOUTH - BOAT LOAD OF HOLIDAYMAKERS TAKE A TRIP ON THE VENTIAN WATERWAYS DATE; 24TH JULY 1967 C3887 FOA AUg 2014 - Credit: Archant

Crucially, volunteers will work alongside professionals to faithfully reinstate the original themed flower beds, and help to repair the rusticated thatched shelters, which contribute much to the special character of the attraction. The surviving carved animal heads from the original boats will be re-used as part of the scheme.

The borough council will meet on Thursday to discuss the next steps.

Chairman of the borough's economic development committee Barry Coleman said: 'The Venetian Waterways are a unique 20th century park and tourist attraction, a real heritage gem and community asset, which deserve to be safeguarded for future generations. Their restoration will further enhance Great Yarmouth's seafront economy, enhance our rich cultural heritage offering, and further enrich our neighbourhoods.'

Darren Barker, the borough's principal conservation officer, said: 'As with the trust's successful conservation projects at the Cemeteries and Hopton Ruined Church, I am delighted that our local volunteers and trainees will lead this restoration, developing community ownership and much-needed horticultural and building conservation skills, which will be vital in the park's ongoing maintenance.'

Great Yarmouth - Seafront
Waterways Gardens and Lily Pond at Great Yarmouth.
Dated reprinte

Great Yarmouth - Seafront Waterways Gardens and Lily Pond at Great Yarmouth. Dated reprinted 27 February 1961 Photograph C9930 - Credit: Archant

Do you have memories of Great Yarmouth's waterways? Email george.ryan@archant.co.uk

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