25 years: reviving the forgotten heritage of The Broads

25 years: reviving the forgotten heritage of The Broads

Venetian Waterways boating lake
To celebrate The National Lottery’s 25th Birthday, we explore the areas around The Broads and uncover how our investment is ensuring its important histories will never be forgotten.

Great Yarmouth

A stone’s throw from the heart of The Broads and its sprawling landscape in the East of England, is the seaside town of Great Yarmouth. As we hear more and more that our coastal towns are suffering from neglect, National Lottery funding over the last 25 years has aimed to buck the trend by investing £14million in over 80 projects in the area.

The humble herring

Great Yarmouth’s heritage has herring at its heart. With its roots as a fishing settlement dating back to the 10th century, the humble herring was key to the town becoming a thriving port in the 18th century. Over the next two centuries, the industry boomed and 'fish girls' from across the British Isles were drawn to Great Yarmouth for employment. But by the mid-20th century, the industry had declined steeply and has now all but disappeared.

The Tower Fish Curing Works were once a bustling hub for the industry, but closed their doors in 1988. Now the site is home to the award-winning Time and Tide Museum, which tells the story of Great Yarmouth’s rich maritime and fishing history to approximately 30,000 people a year, keeping the story alive.

Bringing the magic back to the Venetian Waterways

If you walk along the seafront in Great Yarmouth today, you’ll be met by winding rivers, picturesque rock gardens and bridges and quirky thatched shelters. It's all thanks to £1.7m from The National Lottery and the hard work of an army of volunteers.

The ‘child’s dream’ that volunteer Clare Cooper remembers from her youth, and that her kids can now experience, is worlds away from the weed-infested and unkempt site it was a few years before.

Volunteer Clare Cooper at the Venetian Waterways
Volunteer Clare Cooper at the Venetian Waterways


The Waterways brought Venice to the British seaside for those who could not afford to go abroad. The park also had a social outlook in its construction, built as a means of employment relief after the First World War. Today it continues that ethos with the newly reopened Island Café and boating lake operated by a social enterprise and charity.

Revealing the hidden heritage of Carlton Marshes

Man looking out over Carlton Marshes
The wild beauty of Carlton Marshes


Despite comprising only 0.1% of the UK, The Broads National Park boasts more than a quarter of its rarest wildlife, but not everyone realises this natural heritage is there. This is especially true of Carlton Marshes, but that will soon change as a vast new nature reserve will be completed in 2020.

Thanks to £4m of National Lottery investment, people exploring the marshes will benefit from a brand new visitor centre, better access across the Southern Broads’ watery landscapes and hides where they might spy the elusive lapwing and redshank. 

Water, Mills and Marshes

Meanwhile, the incredible Water, Mills and Marshes project, a partnership of more than 50 different organisations, is helping to create a lasting legacy in the National Park.

From the restoration of historic mills, to art and drama workshops, to wild watches and skills training, the project is encouraging people to connect with The Broads in new ways, ensuring that this unique part of the UK has a bright future.

25 years of funding for heritage

Over the past 25 years, The National Lottery Heritage Fund has been the largest dedicated grant funder of the UK’s heritage. We’ve awarded £8bn to more than 44,000 projects across the UK.

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