A UNIQUE lost garden in Lancashire is set to be safeguarded for the fascination of future generations after being awarded £3.4m of National Lottery money.
The historic Terraced Gardens at Rivington – built on the edge of the West Pennine Moors by millionaire soap magnate Lord Leverhulme early in the 20th century – will now undergo a three year programme of work by heritage experts to protect the buildings and landscape loved by local people.
The Rivington Heritage Trust, working with Groundwork Cheshire Lancashire and Merseyside, led the successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund Parks for People grant programme.
The work to conserve, repair and protect the gardens will eventually lead to buildings like the Pigeon Tower being repaired and opened to the public for supervised visits for the first time in decades.
Improved information boards, an interactive website and guided tours will help visitors understand the historical significance of the mysterious wonderland.
Bryan Homan, chairman of the Rivington Heritage Trust, said he was delighted to hear the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund had decided to award them the money.
He added: “There was a real risk these gardens could have been lost forever if the bid had been unsuccessful, so we’re overjoyed to hear the news.
“This is a real victory for the local community, many of whom have already played an important role in our community forum. We hope even more people will now get involved and help us protect these great gardens for future generations to enjoy.”
Dave Partington, a volunteer with the Community Forum which helped to shape the application, said “This is a great result for the area. The Community Forum has worked on this project from the very outset to ensure that the views of local people and Gardens users sit at the heart of the plans. A lot of volunteers have invested a lot of time in this process, and it’s fantastic to hear that we have received the National Lottery support.”
Lord Leverhulme worked with landscape architect Thomas Mawson on the design of the Terraced Gardens.
Lord Leverhulme died in 1925 and the gardens almost immediately fell into a state of disrepair, with a new landowner, Liverpool Water Corporation, taking ownership of the site for water supplies. They were opened to the public in 1948.
The Gardens are a Grade II listed park, and 11 of the structures, including the iconic Pigeon Tower and seven-arched bridge, are also listed at Grade II.
Recently, the site was identified as one of the top ten lost gardens in the UK, and was featured on a BBC Countryfile programme in November 2014.
The National Lottery money forms part of a wider £4m project to preserve and improve the gardens.
Ben Williams, project manager at Groundwork Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside, which is working alongside the Rivington Heritage Trust on the plans, said: “This decision is a real landmark in the ongoing story of Rivington. It’s been a privilege to lead on this application, and my heartfelt thanks go to all those from the Community Forum and from our professional team who have made this happen. We’ve put a lot of effort into achieving the right balance of heritage conservation and preserving the landscape so loved by local people, and it’s great that the National Lottery have supported our approach and plans.”
Today’s news comes as part of a £32million funding announcement for parks and cemeteries across the UK. Sara Hilton, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said on behalf of HLF and the Big Lottery Fund: ““Shrouded in drama and mystery, the Rivington Terrace Gardens are among some of the most atmospheric places to enjoy nature in the UK. Thanks to National Lottery players our investment will help save this special place from further dilapidation whilst preserving its much-loved character and opening up its important history to visitors.”
It is expected work will start on site in the spring of 2017, with the main works lasting through most of the year. Work on the project’s activity plan will start in 2016, providing more opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved in the project and help to look after the gardens.