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Venetian Waterways and Boating Lake


The Venetian Waterways and Boating Lake were constructed from 1926-28 as part of a relief programme for the unemployed following World War One. The vibrant and floriferous planting was highly commended at the time, being entered into the Royal Horticultural Society's International Exhibition in 1928 where it was described as being particularly 'bold'. 

The park enjoyed its heyday until the 1960s when a decline in tourism at British seaside resorts contributed to a lack of visitors in the latter half of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century. Investment in, and maintenance of, the park, therefore declined leading to the eventual closure of the Boating Lake and the loss of historic features and planting in the Venetian Waterways.

The Borough Council, in partnership with the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust (GYPT), submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in August 2016. The bid involved the repair and restoration of the entire park, a comprehensive restoration training programme in horticulture and traditional building skills for long-term unemployed, youth and local residents, as well as a legacy of community activity. 

Restoration work began in June 2018 and completed in late Spring 2019. The Waterways (opens new window) was reopened as a collective site on the 20 August 2019. The project was funded through a £1.77m National Lottery grant awarded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), plus further support from the Borough Council, New Anglia LEP and the Department for Communities and Local Government (now MHCLG). 

How can I get involved in maintaining The Waterways?

Between summer 2018 and summer 2019, volunteers and trainees worked alongside professionals to faithfully reinstate the original and beautiful themed flower beds, and repair the rusticated thatched shelters that 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.

There continues to be a number of volunteering opportunities and if you would like to apply to become a volunteer at The Waterways you can do so by getting in contact with the operator, who have taken responsibility for managing the ongoing volunteer scheme. All the details of what you will need and how to sign up are available on The Waterways (opens new window) website. 

Please note that by signing up to volunteer (from January 2020) your contact information will be used by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the official operator who jointly run the volunteering programme. You can remove your consent for your information to be shared at any time by contacting

What happened to the commemorative benches?

The original benches on site were unfortunately beyond repair; new seating around the park has been installed as part of the restoration scheme. New memorial benches are available under the updated Memorial Scheme. Previous memorial plaques have been returned to their owners, where information was available.

How do I arrange a new commemorative plaque?

The Waterways has a memorial scheme which includes traditional benches scattered around the Waterways park and garden memorials such as adopting a rose bush or shrub in your loved ones name. For information about the memorial scheme options please contact 

Where can I find more information online about the project?

The Waterways has its own website (opens new window) where you can follow updates about volunteering days, events, memorials and a blog. In addition, you can stay up to date with behind-the-scenes news and photos by following our social media channels on:

Information can also be found on the Waterways Memories (opens new window) website, comprising memories shared by local residents. Wider information about The Waterways is available online including a local blog, getting involved information, memorial application, historical background and gallery through (opens new window)

How much does a boat ride cost and what are the opening times?

The Boating Lake Island café, including the hire of boats, is run and managed by Access Community Trust.  Opening times and fees are updated on their media accounts or The Waterways website. (opens new window)

All under 12s and non-swimmers must wear a life jacket. 

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