A HISTORIC monument commemorating the man who founded a town-centre park has been lovingly restored.
Thousands of pounds has been ploughed into returning the Lord Ashton monument, in the heart of St Annes’ Ashton Gardens, to its former glory.
The milestone project – which included painstaking research into the garden’s history – was carried out by friends’ group The Supporters of Ashton Gardens (SOAG) thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
SOAG chairman Fred Moor said: “Altogether, Lord Ashton gave today’s equivalent of £5 million to acquire and extend the Gardens for the people, and on their behalf SOAG has documented the history of the gardens, and restored his monument, which we hope will last for another 100 years.”
The monument, in the park’s Rose Garden, has been completely restored, with Kirkham architects Croft Goode overseeing the project.
SOAG’s members donated £12,000 toward the work, while a lottery grant of £50,000 was also used for the scheme.
Jon Harrison, SOAG’s vice-chairman, added: “The work was completed on budget, but took a little longer than expected as a result of a prolonged search that led us to a small quarry in Anglesey for a close-matching marine limestone to recreate the original wing walls.”
The group is planning to hand the restored monument back to Fylde Council’s care at a special handover ceremony on March 7, where it will be received by Coun Sue Fazackerley, portfolio holder for leisure and tourism, and Mayor Coun Howard Henshaw, on behalf of the people.
Coun Fazackerley said: “The monument to the benefactor of Ashton Gardens, Lord Ashton, had deteriorated and badly needed attention.
“We are grateful to the supporters for organising and raising funding for the impressive restoration which will grace the Rose Garden for generations to come.”
As part of the project SOAG is also planning to release a DVD in April which will outline the history of the gardens, as well as going live with a website so the footage can be seen worldwide.
More than 3,500 historic images – and images of historic documents – reflecting the Gardens’ history over the years have been collected as part of painstaking research.
Presentations about the gardens’ history have been delivered to local groups over the past few months.
The handover ceremony will take place in the Rose Garden at 2pm on Wednesday, March 7.