How Express helped ensure future of gardens

Ashton Gardens in St Annes celebrates its centenary this year

Ashton Gardens in St Annes celebrates its centenary this year

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Did you know the Express played a key role in persuading Lord Ashton to buy the landmark town centre Gardens to which he gave his name on behalf of the people of St Annes?

In 1914, what was then known as St George’s Gardens was in a ruinous state and the town was divided over whether the council should take over the area, with consequent cost to the ratepayers.

James Bowman, the first editor of the Express, called on a councillor who knew Lord Ashton, a linoleum magnate based in Lancaster who already had a strong affection for St Annes, to send the peer copies of the Express article about the issue and he agreed to donate the required sum of £21,350.

The new-look Ashton Gardens, with an additional entrance at Clifton Drive North at a further cost of just over £5,000, opened in the summer of 1916 - and the centenary will be marked with a day of celebration in the Gardens on Saturday, August 6.

Along with a host of family events and the final of a new centenary bowling tournament, it will includes an illustrated talk by Fred Moor, former chairman of the Supporters of Ashton Gardens, repeated at intervals through the day, about the venue’s history.

Held in West Lodge, St George’s Road, each talk will run for half an hour each at 10am, 11.30am, 2pm and 3.30pm and advance booking is strongly advised by calling (01253) 728047 or emailing info@fredmoor,com.

Fred said: “The talk will look at the whole history of the Gardens, including details of how the Express played a key role after what was previously known as St George’s Gardens had fallen into disrepair, the formation of the Supporters of Ashton Gardens during the battle to stop Safeway supermarket developing there, and our restoration of the monument to Lord Ashton in the Rose Garden.

“There’s no entry charge but we’re asking people to pre-register because space is limited in West Lodge, and each talk can only accommodate around 20 people.”

The celebration day, running from 10am to 4.30pm, will include music from Blackpool Brass Band, along with performances from clog dancers, a George Formby tribute act, a Punch and Judy show, period costumes, games such as target bowls, croquet and a coconut shy, a sale of plants, Guide Dogs for the Blind display, the bowls final and a barbecue.