Restoring a heritage garden
Mark Fenton MSGD recently completed the first phase of restoring The Mount in Fleetwood
We first began planning the restoration of Fleetwood’s The Mount Pavilion and Gardens - designed by Decimus Burton in the 1830s - in 2015, and I presented a feasibility study to Mrs Lofthouse, owner of the famous Fisherman’s Friends, which are made in Fleetwood. We were delighted when she donated £1 million to the project. This allowed us to get things happening on site while building up a case for a Heritage Lottery Funding bid. We undertook a public consultation to form our brief and it became apparent that people wanted to see the gardens restored.
The site commands dramatic views of the coast, but putting together a planting scheme was a challenge due to the sea-facing location. Everything we have put in is permanent, rather than seasonal, and has been chosen to withstand wind and to be salt tolerant. Planting at the entrances features a range of hardy, coastal plants such as Cordyline, Crataegeus, Santolina and Cistus.
Mrs Lofthouse was keen to see the railings around the gardens go up, so I worked with a conservation architect to make that happen. The railings we used are exactly as they were in the 1890s – they were removed during the Second World War. We pieced together what they looked like from old photographs and catalogues. When repairing the Edwardian shelters in the gardens we also went through layers of paint from over the years until we got to the green we have now used.
We could also see from old postcards that the original rockery features were missing, so we reintroduced them. They were made from Westmorland Limestone, which you can’t buy new anymore. I had mentioned this to a local landscape firm, Bannister Hall in Preston, and, amazingly, when they sourced some they remembered my request.
Phase one is now complete and we are working on the funding bid for phase two, which involves restoring the pavilion and the lodges at the back of the garden, plus the Mary of Hope garden, which was designed in the 1960s for blind people. I’m looking at plants with different textures as well as sounds, such as rustling foliage.
As part of a larger scheme I’m involved in, Healthier Fleetwood, it’s my aim to provide a place where people can enjoy being outside. A series of events and activities is underway to allow the community to play a part in shaping plans for the site before a second application to the HLF for the full project, totalling around £2.4m, is submitted.
Since phase one was completed, the garden has gone from strength to strength. The day-to-day upkeep is managed by Wyre Council’s operations team. We’re all proud to be involved in the redevelopment and are looking forward to the next part of the restoration.