A PROJECT to preserve the wonders of a beautiful and historic terraced garden is ready to enter a crucial next stage of work.

For the past 15 months, groups of local people have been helping to transform the the Terraced Gardens at Rivington by hand.

But from January, the programme steps up a gear when some small-scale machinery will be needed to do the heavier work.

The project is led by the Rivington Heritage Trust (RHT) in partnership with Groundwork and is part-funded with £3.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Andrew Suter, Groundwork’s project manager, said: “The transformation of parts of the Terraced Gardens to date is amazing. Hundreds of hours of hard work has gone into this result and we’re really grateful to the local people and businesses who have volunteered to help.

“We now need to bring in bigger machinery to carry out the work we can’t do with our hands, such as restoring the Pigeon Tower and the Italian Lake, but we want to reassure people that looking after the nature and wildlife living in the Gardens is our top concern.

“This project is designed to enhance the special habitat, protecting species and allowing it to thrive.”

Millionaire Lord Leverhulme worked with landscape architect Thomas Mawson on the design of the Terraced Gardens in the early 1900s.

He died in 1925 and the gardens almost immediately fell into a state of disrepair, with a new landowner, Liverpool Water Corporation, taking ownership of the site for water supplies.

They were opened to the public in 1948.

The work to conserve, repair and protect the gardens will eventually lead to all the structures on site being made safe and opened during public events for the first time in decades.

Improved information boards and guided tours will help visitors understand the historical significance of the mysterious wonderland.

Bryan Homan, chairman of the RHT, said: “You can tell from the number of positive comments and photos on social media that people are really excited and appreciative of the hard work going into this community project.”

The project needs to be sustainable once the HLF funding has been spent and small scale events have been held to help raise money.

A Historic Rivington Festival is being planned for the end of May 2018 with more details to be released in the new year.

To get involved, you can join the Friends of Rivington Terraced Gardens Group or be a volunteer and help with the conservation work, education visits and events.

Email rtg@groundwork.org.uk for more details.