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Great Yarmouth Borough Council

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The lake at the Venetian Waterways was drained in 2014 but will open to boaters once more

A seaside town’s Venice-inspired boating lake is returning to use for the first time in a decade as part of a £2.7m restoration.

The revamp of the Grade II-listed Venetian Waterways in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, began in June 2018.

The lake and island cafe have been refurbished, with work to its bridges, shelters and gardens.

Councillor Graham Plant said the waterways had regained their “magical sparkle”.

“At 91 years old, it remains one of our most beloved and unique community facilities, tourist attractions and heritage assets – a park that’s by the public, for the public, in its construction, usage and now its restoration,” he said.

The Venetian Waterways were opened in 1928, having been commissioned by the borough council as a way to create work after World War One, but they declined towards the end of the 20th Century.

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Supplied by Great Yarmouth Borough Council

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The Venetian Waterways were a popular attraction during Great Yarmouth’s tourism boom

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Great Yarmouth Borough Council

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But by the end of the 20th Century, they had fallen into decline and the lake was drained in 2014

As part of the restoration, volunteers contributed more than 2,000 hours to return the site to its former glory.

They worked alongside gardeners to replant 19,500 perennials, shrubs and trees in their original design, which won praise from the Royal Horticultural Society.

Seven bridges had to be repaired, four buildings were re-thatched and more than 500 tonnes of rock and stone repositioned.

The boating lake, which was drained in 2014, was refilled with 3,600 cubic metres of water from its own borehole.

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Ali Hall

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The gardens were also neglected as the waterways fell out of use

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Great Yarmouth Borough Council

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More than 2,000 volunteer hours have gone into recreating the gardens’ original planting patterns

Chris Starkie, chief executive of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said the investment would “create new jobs, redevelop seafront sites and offer a fun day out for families”.

The project has been led by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, which worked with the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust.

It was funded by the National Lottery, which awarded a £1.7m grant, the borough council, New Anglia LEP and central government.



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