A project to preserve and restore Rivington’s beloved Terraced Gardens for future generations has begun.

The proposals suggest how the area’s historic landscape of ravines, winding paths, bridges and faded grandeur can be kept safe.

The ideas come from a report which will form part of an application to secure £3.3million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and allow the treasured area to be protected.

The project has already received initial support 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.

Bryan Homan, chairman 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 from 1905 to 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, 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 and activities and volunteer programmes to get people involved. 

Mr Homan said: “We’ve heard a very clear message from local people 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.”

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.”

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.