WORK has begun on the £4.2m restoration of Rivington Terraced Gardens.

It follows painstaking work by hundreds of volunteers over the past two years.

The project was created after the discovery of three lost footpaths and was kickstarted by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It aims to restore gardens and landmarks, making the area safe enough to be opened to the public.

Andrew Suter, heritage projects manager at Groundwork CLM, said: “The contract work started on Monday and should take 50 weeks. The programme will address the 11 listed structures in the gardens like the Pigeon Tower and five summer houses.”

He added: “We will be draining the Italian and Japanese Lakes, re-lining them and refilling them. We will also be improving all the woodlands and restoring some of the original planting around the Japanese Lake.”

He stressed: “A key part of the project is conserving the site for future generations and in particular improving the various habitats for wildlife. All the contract work will be overseen by a project ecologist who will ensure we protect the many species which live in the gardens.”

The terraced gardens were created by industrialist and philanthropist Lord Leverhulme during the early 20th century and in their 1920s heyday, the gardens boasted lakes, waterfalls, pagodas, oriental tea houses and even a small zoo.

Lord Leverhulme financed the extravagant constructions through his £5m fortune amassed as a successful soap manufacturer.

Lord Leverhulme was a staunch supporter of workers’ rights, advocating workers becoming partners and even a six-hour working day.

The long-term goal is to make the garden restoration project a visitor attraction that will pay for itself.

It is hoped that the chief draw will be Pigeon Tower – which at one time served as Lady Leverhulme’s sewing and music chambers.

Some 200,000 people already visit the gardens every year in their current state.

For anyone who would like to see the progress on the gardens so far, a guided walk will be held this Saturday.

It will set off at 10am from the lower house car park.

Anyone interested in getting involved with the project is asked to email