A unique lost garden at a popular walking haunt for Wiganers is revealing treasures unseen for 80 years.
Hidden footpaths and an ornate door knocker are among items discovered as a £4.2m three-year programme to safeguard the much-loved Terraced Gardens at Rivington gets under way.
Project manager Andrew Suter, from Groundwork, said: “It has been fascinating for us to witness parts of Leverhulme’s garden being rediscovered for the first time in decades as we carry out the conservation work.
“It gives everyone involved a very tangible sense of preserving a captivating chapter of local history.”
He added: “We’ve found three old footpaths, an ornate door knocker from the grand ballroom Lord Leverhulme built, as well as some of the original cedar shingles from the Pergola which once overlooked the Japanese Lake. Until this project, these items had been lost to history.”
The work to conserve, repair and protect the gardens will eventually lead to buildings like the Pigeon Tower being made safe and opened during public events for the first time in decades.
The project is being part-funded by £3.4m of money from the Heritage Lottery Fund: Parks for People Programme.
Lord Leverhulme worked with landscape architect Thomas Mawson on the design of the Terraced Gardens, known to many locally as the Chinese Gardens, in the early 1900s.
He 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.
Recently, the site was identified as one of the top 10 lost gardens in the UK.
An army of local people have signed-up to help turn the plans into reality, including over 200 volunteers who are getting their hands dirty carrying out conservation work, researching former residents and garden plans and even leading guided walks.
The Rivington Heritage Trust is leading the project, working in partnership with Groundwork Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside.
Bryan Homan, chairman of the Trust, said: “The response from local people who want to get involved has been staggering.
“There was a risk these gardens could have been lost forever, but thanks to the National Lottery money and the local community, we are in a great position to protect this special area for future generations.”
To get involved, you can join the Friends of Rivington Terraced Gardens Group or be a volunteer and help with the conservation work, education visits and events. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.