Celebration to mark reopening of Venetian Waterways
PUBLISHED: 00:01 20 August 2019
After a year of restoration works, the grand reopening of Great Yarmouth’s historic Venetian Waterways takes place today (August 20), with the Boating Lake and Island Cafe back in use for the first time in a decade.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council, working with the town's Preservation Trust and volunteers, has led the £2.7m revamp of the listed seafront park and attraction.
The park was built in the interwar period as an employment relief programme after the First World War.
Opening in 1928 it was popular with generations of holidaymakers until it declined in the later years of the 20th century, leading to the loss of historic features and plants in the Waterways.
The Boating Lake was drained in 2014.
Since restoration started in June 2018, the Boating Lake and Island Cafe have been refurbished, the Venetian bridges and thatched weather shelters restored, and volunteers working alongside the new Waterways gardeners have replanted the park.
Conservation works have included the repair of seven bridges and planting of 19,500 perennials, shrubs and trees.
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The Boating Lake basin has been repaired and filled with 3,600 cubic metres of water via a dedicated borehole.
Following the successful reopening of the Waterways site at Easter and the Boating Lake gardens last month, the restored Boating Lake itself and the Cafe Island reopens today (August 20) from 2pm to 6pm as part of the Grand Reopening Gala.
In addition to other family fun, people will be able to hire a rowing boat or pedalo and take to the water, with the site managed by Access Community Trust, a social enterprise and charity.
The restoration has been funded by a £1.7m National Lottery grant awarded through The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund, plus further funding from the borough council, New Anglia LEP and the Government.
In addition, volunteers have so far contributed 2,000 hours, with the community continuing the restoration over the coming years.
Cllr Graham Plant, chairman of the economic development committee, said: "The Waterways has regained its magical sparkle thanks to everyone involved and it will improve further still as the restoration continues, the plants mature and the Boating Lake and Island Cafe come alive again with visitors.
"At 91 years old, it remains one of our most beloved and unique community facilities, tourist attractions and heritage assets - a park that's by the public, for the public, in its construction, usage and now its restoration. It has been totally transformed, winning a Green Flag Award, and that's credit to our fabulous funders, dedicated staff and volunteers."