Waterways restoration project gets underway
The inspirational community-led project to completely restore the Waterways and Boating Lake has started after securing a grant of more than £1.7m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund.
First opened in 1928, the Grade II-listed park and tourist attraction along North Drive was commissioned by Great Yarmouth Borough Council as an employment relief programme, with the community undertaking its construction.
Generations of holidaymakers and residents enjoyed 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.
Thanks to a grant of £1,773,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund/Big Lottery Fund Parks for People Programme, plus support from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the borough council is restoring the attraction to its former glory, working closely with Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust and, crucially, the community.
The important preparatory work is already well underway behind the scenes. In spring 2018, contractors will begin on-site landscape and engineering works.
Between summer 2018 and summer 2019, volunteers and trainees will work alongside professionals to faithfully reinstate the original and beautiful themed flower beds, and repair the rusticated thatched shelters, which contribute much to the special character of the attraction. The surviving carved wooden animal heads from the historic boats will be incorporated into the restoration scheme in some way with the help of the community.
This work will be phased to ensure the park remains open to the public during the restoration programme, which will see boats return to the Boating Lake and the café on the Boating Lake Island renovated and re-opened to help fund the ongoing maintenance of the park.
In accordance with the project's business plan, under which the Heritage Lottery funding for the restoration was secured, boats will initially return to the purpose-built Boating Lake, where they will be available for hire from the refurbished island café. If there proves sufficient demand, there will be the option to introduce trips to the restored Waterways.
The restoration aims to bring back into use another important part of the borough's rich built heritage, to further boost the economy by providing yet another reason to visit the resort, and to provide people with meaningful opportunities to improve skills and access further training or employment, while bolstering civic pride.