National Lottery-funded restoration of historic Venetian Waterways
The ground has been broken to start an inspirational community-led restoration of Great Yarmouth's historic Venetian Waterways, ahead of its 90th anniversary this August.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council is working closely with volunteers on a flagship project, supported by the National Lottery, to restore the Grade II-listed Venetian Waterways, including the Boating Lake.
Today, the project partners gathered onsite to officially break ground on the project, which will see the Boating Lake and Island Café refurbished and brought back into use, the quirky Waterways bridges and shelters restored, and the original acclaimed planting scheme, dating from 1928, reinstated.
Work will take place over the next 12 months and is funded through a £1.77m National Lottery grant awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund, plus further support from the borough council, New Anglia LEP and the Department for Communities and Local Government (now MHCLG).
The project aims to involve the community in enhancing and interpreting a unique community facility, tourist attraction and heritage asset, supporting the local economy, boosting civic pride and providing people with meaningful opportunities to improve skills and access further training or employment.
Contractor Blakedown will undertake the heavy landscaping and engineering, including refurbishing the Boating Lake, Island Café and concrete bridges, repairing the crazy paving and dragon-tooth edging, and reinstating the garden beds, rockeries and pergolas.
Volunteers will work with specialists to undertake the planting from September, as well as conserving the rusticated thatched shelters, the steel and wooden bridges, and the quirky animal-themed boat figureheads, which will be incorporated into the scheme.
In a joint statement, the council's political group leaders, Cllr Graham Plant and Cllr Trevor Wainwright said: "This is a great day for the borough and we look forward to seeing one of our unique heritage gems and community assets being restored over the coming year under the hands of our contractors and volunteers. We would like to thank the skilled team who have made this ground-breaking a reality, as well as our project funders, the Heritage Lottery Fund, New Anglia LEP and MHCLG.
"For the community, there are some really exciting, varied and unusual volunteering opportunities, and lots of people have already got in touch. The Waterways were built by local people - and they hold so many special memories - so we can't think of any better way to celebrate its 90th anniversary than to involve local people in its renewal, giving volunteers a chance to learn new skills, have fun and make new memories, while contributing to a lasting legacy for Great Yarmouth.
Steve Miller, Trustee and Member of HLF's East of England Committee, attended the ground-breaking. He said: "The Venetian Waterways is being restored to its former glory thanks to National Lottery players and, as was its original intention, will have the people of Great Yarmouth at its heart. There are fantastic opportunities for volunteers and trainees and people of all ages will have the chance to get involved in creating a bright future for their unique park."
Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said "The Venetian Waterways will provide a welcome boost for Great Yarmouth's visitor economy, reviving an iconic feature of its seafront. Projects such as this give life to local communities and support the creation of new jobs. This is great news for the town."
The borough council is actively seeking expressions of interest from people to volunteer in a wide range of roles between this summer and summer 2019. Nearly 100 people have already registered an interest. In addition, the council is seeking people with stories and memories about the Waterways which they would be happy to be recorded by volunteers.
Find out more about volunteering and sponsorship opportunities at www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/waterwaysproject-volunteer @WaterwayProject #waterways90