£1.7m to bring boats back to Great Yarmouth’s Waterways
- Credit: Archant
Plans to restore a unique tourist attraction to its former glory have been given a boost after receiving a £1.7m grant.
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.
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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.'
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.
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.'
Do you have memories of Great Yarmouth's waterways? Email email@example.com