Our latest Curiosity of the Week is a Venetian style waterway in the seaside resort of Great Yarmouth…
The Venetian Waterways, a unique mini Venice on the east coast, will reopen today (Tuesday 20th August), giving families the first chance in years to row out across the boating lake and visit the Island Café.
The Grade II-listed waterways were originally constructed in 1928, offering relief work for the unemployed in an economically difficult time. The attraction, which was dug out by hand, contained winding rivers for gondolas, paths through rock gardens, picturesque bridges over the water, and thatched shelters.
The Venetian Waterways were instantly popular, in an era when seaside resorts were booming. The addition of illuminations, winter skating, amplified music, and a model of HMS Nelson, made them a year-round attraction.
Sadly, with the decline of the British seaside in favour of holidays abroad, the waterways began to fall into disrepair. Thankfully now, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, in partnership with Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, have been undertaking a £2.7m restoration of the seafront park and tourist attraction.
Following the successful reopening of the waterways site at Easter and the boating lake gardens last month, the restored boating lake itself and the Café Island will reopen to the public with a special Grand Reopening Gala.
The gala will include family fun for residents and visitors alike, including Punch and Judy shows, heritage and botanical talks, arts and crafts, music and entertainment, displays, stalls and charity fundraising.
For the first time in around a decade, people will have the chance to hire a rowing boat or pedalo and take to the water, with the site managed by Access Community Trust, a social enterprise and charity.
The waterways 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.
For more information on the newly reopened attraction visit www.great-yarmouth.co.uk
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