An action plan has been launched today to help preserve the history of Rivington’s magical Terraced Gardens for future generations.
The proposals suggest how the area’s historic landscape of ravines, winding paths, magnificent bridges and faded grandeur can be gently safeguarded.
The exciting ideas come from a report which will form part of an application to secure £3.3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and allow the treasured area to be protected.
The project has already received initial support for the project from the HLF of around £64,000.
Groundwork Lancashire West and Wigan and the Rivington Heritage Trust, two local charities leading the bid, will now use this conservation management plan to consult with local people and get them to help shape the future of the Terraced Gardens.
The plan suggests the work should include repairing and conserving buildings and managing woodland and vegetation to highlight and protect the popular beauty spot. New information signs and webpages would bring alive the history of the area.
Bryan Homan, chair of the Rivington Heritage Trust, said: “We’re really excited about these plans and telling people about them.
“The Terraced Gardens are rich in history and with thousands of visitors each year, it’s really important we try and preserve this amazing place for future generations.”
The Terraced Gardens are a landscape of international significance. They were the brainchild of two prominent early 20th century figures; Bolton-born soap magnate Lord Leverhulme, who owned the land, and internationally renowned landscape architect TH Mawson, who was commissioned to design the area. The gardens have been open to the public since 1948 and 11 of the structures are now listed by English Heritage.
Construction of the gardens took place on both sides of the First World War, starting in 1905 and completed in 1925, with many of the features, such as the Pigeon Tower, bridges and steps, still visible today.
Among the plan’s recommendations are:
Repairing and conserving buildings and structures, making some buildings safe so people can go onto the roofs.
Sensitively managing trees and vegetation to reveal and protect structures
Improving signage and information about the history of the gardens on site and via the internet.
Activities and volunteer programmes to get local people involved.
Bryan said: “We’ve heard a very clear message from local people already that the atmosphere of faded grandeur and mystery is what people find enchanting about the gardens and we’re not going to do anything to compromise that.
“However, we need to look at managing the area differently or the heritage and people’s enjoyment of the gardens could be affected.”
Rivington Heritage Trust is working in partnership with landowners United Utilities and environmental charity Groundwork to promote the new conservation plan.
Ben Williams, Project Manager with Groundwork Lancashire West and Wigan, said: “The launch of this plan is a very exciting milestone for us. We now have clearly set out proposals which we can take out to the public and really engage them in the detail of the project.”
Heritage expert Maria Luczak, who led the development of the plan, said: “Historically, the Terraced Gardens are an incredibly significant piece of landscape.
“With their breathtaking views towards North Wales and the Lakes, their location on the edge of the West Pennine Moors and the sheer ambition of creating Italian and Japanese-influenced gardens in such a dramatic location means they can genuinely be described as unique.”
The Trust secured funding last year from the HLF to put together the plan. They will find out later this year whether they will receive more grants to carry out the plan’s recommendations.
A summary of the plan is available by going to Rivington Heritage Trust’s website – www.rivingtonheritagetrust.co.uk. Also, details of events and activities where people can come and find out more about the Gardens and the proposals will be put on this website and on Twitter - @RivingtonTG, and at www.facebook.com/RivingtonTG
The trust will be hosting guided tours of the Terraced Gardens, where people can meet the project team and ask questions.
A community forum meets monthly in Horwich to discuss the proposals. To register your interest in the group, visit the “Get Involved” section of the RHT website.