A green-fingered dream has become reality with the opening of 50 new allotments plots in a Wigan village.
Foul weather couldn’t dampen the delight at the launch of the enterprise in Shevington and the latest phase of a project to create recreational space in the township.
It was four years ago that Shevington Parish Council had the presence of mind to buy up a piece of land which used to be part of the defunct Roburite explosives factory.
Developer Orica had been given permission to build houses on much of the site but the council was determined that it wasn’t all going to go that way.
Some ancient woodland near Crooke was also acquired to protect it for future generations.
Local people were consulted about how the eight-heactare field should be used and allotments and sports facilities came out far ahead of any other use.
Since then groups involved in football and rugby, including Shevington Sharks, have been working behind the scenes to raise funds to bring the dream to reality.
Villagers say there has been a considerable amount of co-operation between the sports groups and Shevington Gardening Club, also with the parish council and Community Association.
Club secretary Eileen Longmore said: “At the time of the land acquisition, the Gardening Club had been searching for some 10 years for a suitable site to try to clear a growing waiting list for allotments numbering more than 40, many of whom had been on the list for eight years.
“One of those people acknowledged that they were waiting to ‘step into dead men’s shoes’!
“The Gardening Club efforts so far have raised enough money to fence the area, which will enclose 50 allotment plots, plus eight to 10 raised bed plots for less able allotmenteers and, eventually, a large shared polytunnel.
“We are absolutely delighted at the progress.”
Following the official joint opening by local councillor Chris Ready and parish council chair Ira Whiteley, plots are now being allocated and Ms Longmore said it is looking as if all those remaining on the waiting list will be accommodated, together with quite a few families new to Shevington.
The Plot Party on Saturday also provided an opportunity for prospective plotholders to meet and get to know one another.