Work starts to revive iconic seafront attraction

Work to revive an iconic Great Yarmouth tourist attraction has begun, which is expected to bring new jobs and visitors to the town.

Today, the project partners gathered onsite to officially break ground on the Venetian Waterways 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 New Anglia LEP (250k through the Growing Places Fund), the borough council and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (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.

New Anglia LEP’s Growing Places Fund provides loan-funding to help kick-start and support development projects across Suffolk and Norfolk.

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.”

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.”

Steve Miller, Trustee and Member of HLF’s East of England Committee, 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.”

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