Venetian Waterways restoration is on course
Restoration of Great Yarmouth's historic Venetian Waterways is well underway, with volunteers working alongside contractors to bring the park back to its former glory.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council, in partnership with Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, is working with the community on a flagship £2.7m project, supported by the National Lottery, to restore the Grade II-listed seafront attraction, including the Boating Lake.
Work is funded by a £1.7m National Lottery grant awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund, plus further support from the borough council, New Anglia LEP and the Government.
The project, scheduled to be complete in spring 2019, is seeing the Boating Lake and Island Café refurbished and brought back into use, the bridges and shelters restored, and volunteers reinstate the original beautiful and bold planting scheme from 1928.
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.
Since ground was broken in June 2018, contractors have removed the 1960s extensions to the Boating Lake Island Café, stripped back and reinstated the garden beds, excavated and cleaned the rockery, reinstated the pergolas, and are continuing the extensive concrete restoration across the site.
The Island Café, model boat club hut and two Waterways shelters have already been thoroughly re-thatched, while the contractor is continuing restoration work on the concrete bridges, crazy paving and dragon-tooth edging, and reinstating the rockeries.
Currently, volunteers are working alongside recently-appointed Waterways gardeners, Ian Guest and Duncan McKinnell, plus new horticultural apprentice, Simon Swallow, to put in some 6,500 plants, with this gardening work set to finish in the next few weeks. Around 75 per cent of the planting is now complete, with much completed by volunteers from Great Yarmouth Green Gym.
The original planting scheme was exhibited at the 1928 RHS International Exhibition of Garden Design, where it was considered bold for moving away from familiar seaside bedding and instead using perennials and annuals in drifts.
College students, working with the preservation trust, will also soon begin joinery and carpentry works on the wooden and steel bridges and the weather shelters, while contractors are completing the heavy landscaping and engineering.
Discover more about volunteering opportunities at https://www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/waterwaysproject-volunteer. The council is also offering opportunities for businesses and residents to get involved through sponsorship, and is seeking people with stories and memories about the Waterways which they would be happy to be recorded by volunteers and played on Listening Posts at the restored park. Contact Claire.Sullivan@great-yarmouth.gov.uk
The start of the restoration coincides with the 90th anniversary of the Waterways. 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 after the First World War, with local men involved in its construction.