Conservation scheme under way to restore Great Yarmouth’s Venice-inspired Waterways

Historic photograph of the Waterways and boating lake, from the collection of Dr Paul Davies.

Historic photograph of the Waterways and boating lake, from the collection of Dr Paul Davies. - Credit: Dr Paul Davies

It is among our region's most cherished attractions. Now the public is being asked to assist in an unusual way to help revive Great Yarmouth's historic Waterways.

Historic photograph of the Waterways and boating lake, from the collection of Dr Paul Davies.

Historic photograph of the Waterways and boating lake, from the collection of Dr Paul Davies. - Credit: Dr Paul Davies

For generations, it was one of the highlights of a trip to the seaside.

Great Yarmouth's Venice-inspired Waterways – a network of canals and lakes navigated by small gondolas – has been a much-loved fixture on the seafront for decades.

But the years have taken their toll on the site, leaving much of the attraction in dire need of repair.

Now, a conservation scheme is under way to restore the Grade II-listed landmark, to its former glory, helped by lottery funds.

Historic photograph of the Waterways and boating lake, from the collection of Dr Paul Davies.

Historic photograph of the Waterways and boating lake, from the collection of Dr Paul Davies. - Credit: Dr Paul Davies

However, to support the application for the full amount available, officials need to prove just how treasured the site is among locals and visitors to the town.

They are asking for people to send in photographs, memories and stories about the Waterways, so they can demonstrate to the lottery organisations just what the network means to the resort. Submissions may also be used in a future exhibition.

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Council leader Graham Plant added: 'This insight will help to highlight in the detailed application what people truly think is special about the attraction and support this partnership project to safeguard for future generations a unique asset.'

Darren Barker, the council's principal conservation officer, added: 'What we're particularly interested in is holiday snapshots people have taken of their family and friends enjoying themselves together at the Waterways or boating lake.

Historic photograph of the Waterways and boating lake, from the collection of Dr Paul Davies.

Historic photograph of the Waterways and boating lake, from the collection of Dr Paul Davies. - Credit: Dr Paul Davies

'It would also be great to hear from anyone who might have anecdotes relating to the construction of the Waterways.'

Great Yarmouth Borough Council is working with Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust on the restoration project.

Funding of £1,020,800 has already been earmarked for the project by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund.

Of this, £45,000 has already been handed over. The request for photographs and memories is to support the ongoing application for the remainder of the grant.

Contributions should be emailed to Darren Barker via darren.barker@great-yarmouth.gov.uk or Charlotte Paddock via charlotte.paddock@great-yarmouth.gov.uk

HISTORY OF THE SITE

• The Waterways and boating lake were built in the late 1920s as part of a relief effort to find work for the unemployed in the years after the First World War

• The Venetian-style Waterways featured gondola rides on winding rivers, bridges, rock gardens and thatched shelters

• It is thought that the channels were all dug out by hand, using shovels and wheelbarrows and 6639 tons of soil were brought in from nearby Caister to replace the sand

• Salt water was replaced with fresh water to allow skating to take place in cold winters

• During the Second World War, the Waterways were damaged by bombs but were still able to re-open in 1946

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