Venetian Waterways

Photo:Venetian Waterways in the 1950's

Venetian Waterways in the 1950's

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:A Girl amongst the plants in the Waterways

A Girl amongst the plants in the Waterways

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:Some of the tableaux in the Waterways

Some of the tableaux in the Waterways

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:The Waterways at Night

The Waterways at Night

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:Relaxing in the Waterways

Relaxing in the Waterways

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:One of the electric-powered boats on the Waterways

One of the electric-powered boats on the Waterways

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:Shelter at the Venetian Waterways

Shelter at the Venetian Waterways

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photographs of the Waterways in the 1950's

By John Layton

The Venetian Waterways were opened in August 1929, and were built as a seafront attraction.  The boats were named after Broadland rivers and were electrically powered - a very early innovation.

In the 1950's there were a series of Nursery Rhyme tableaux around the sides of the Waterways, which were illuminated at night, and provided much fun and entertainment for both young and old alike.

Nowadays, the old boats and tableaux have gone, but the gardens remain, and can still provide a quiet haven away from the hustle and bustle of seaside holidays!

This page was added by John Layton on 21/02/2007.
Comments about this page

We used to come to Yarmouth to Norwich once a year in September to 'see the lights'. My grandfather would take us to the funfair where we would be allowed to choose one or two rides from a small selection that were considered suitable. The big wheel, the carousel and the small roundabouts were allowed but not the roller coaster! We always walked down to the Venetian waterways for an exciting trip in the dark.

By Jenny
On 23/03/2007

We too visited the Waterways Gardens on our annual Sunday school outing from Pakefield church. The lighting system was such that it led us to believe that the illuminated animals were really hopping through the grass. It was magical experience for us young children.

By Jennifer Jackman
On 27/03/2007

The construction of the Waterways was started on the 2nd of January 1928 and completed on the 30th June. It was hoped to open the attraction to the public in July but owing to difficulties obtaining the charging apparatus for the boats this had to be delayed until the 2nd August (1928).

By Terry Ashbourne
On 07/01/2008

With the exception of a few key men, the Waterways were laid out as a 'relief scheme' by the unemployed who received one shilling per hour for their labours. They dug out the channels by hand using just shovels and wheelbarrows. Over 6000 tons of soil was brought over from Caister to construct the ornamental gardens.

By Terry Ashbourne
On 21/01/2008

There were five boats specially built by J.W. Brooke & Co. of Lowestoft to ply the Waterways in 1928 and each was named after a Broadland River. They were called the Yare, Ant, Bure, Waveney and Thurne. Each boat had its own designated boatman who was supplied with a Jersey bearing the name of the boat. The boatmen earned £3 per week and the money-taker (Mr S.L. Gough of York Road) earned 30 shillings. The man in overall charge when the Waterways first opened was Mr E. Harlock of Alderson Road.

By terence ashbourne
On 28/01/2008

So enjoyed looking at photos of waterways, we used to come in the 1950s.  We used to stay in caravan at Northdenes, used to play in sand dunes all day.  Remember my little cousin nearly falling in water one year, trying to get into boat; many happy memories.  Still try to come back most summers, but bring grandchildren now.

By jean
On 10/04/2012

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