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Search is on for memories of RHS Garden Bridgewater

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RHS Garden Bridgewater will open in 2020

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is looking to gather memories from those who lived, worked and played in the grounds of Worsley New Hall, to create a rich bank of first-hand material in preparation for the opening of RHS Garden Bridgewater in 2020.

The RHS is partnering with Salford University’s Centre for Applied Archaeology to capture people’s memories about different facets of the garden’s history. The stories may feature in books and exhibitions about the garden and form part of its interpretation, enhancing the experience for future visitors.

In its heydey, Worsley New Hall was a notable residence of its era and the magnificent gardens, landscaped over a 50-year period, were equally impressive. Queen Victoria visited twice, in 1851 and 1857, and the hall became a British Red Cross hospital during the First World War. After this time the hall and the gardens fell into decline, and in the Second World War parts of the hall were requisitioned by the War Office, its gardens used as training grounds by the Lancashire Fusiliers.

During the early 20th century the hall fell into disrepair. Weakened by dry rot and following a fire in 1943, this once-grand building was finally demolished by a scrap merchant, who had bought it for just £2,500. By 1949, after a century of heritage, the hall became part of Salford’s historic past. In subsequent years parts of the grounds have been used as a garden centre, a Scout camp and a rifle range.

Anna da Silva, Programme Director, RHS Garden Bridgewater, says: ‘One of the great gifts of the Worsley New Hall site is its rich heritage and its significance for local people. We know there are some fantastic stories out there, from those who worked in the house or garden to those who learnt survival skills at Scout camp or attended raves in the Bunker. We want you to get in touch with your precious stories and memories so that we can make them a key part of the visitor experience at the garden.’

Students and staff at Salford University will be piloting the project in 2018, interviewing a sample of participants, and collecting and recording stories. If successful it will continue in future years, to the opening of the garden and beyond. Anyone interested in contributing should email bridgewaterfeedback@rhs.org.uk or write to Memories Project, RHS Garden Bridgewater, Leigh Road, Boothstown, Salford, M28 2GU with a brief summary of their experiences of the Worsley New Hall site and grounds.