A SUNDIAL sculpture installed in Rivington Terraced Gardens in tribute to the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to restore the historic grounds has been vandalised.

Rivington Heritage Trust described the wilful act as "disappointing" ­— but refused to let it take away from the good work that has transformed the gardens, which formed part of the grounds of the Lord Leverhulme's home.

Now a fundraising page has been set up for donations to restore the sundial, which reflects a time in Bolton's rich history.

The trust posted on its Facebook page on Sunday: "How deeply disappointing that, at a time when we are seeing the very best in people, someone has decided to vandalise our new sundial sculpture.

"More so because it was paid for with money saved by our incredible volunteers and installed as a tribute to their amazing efforts. They have donated almost 70,000 hours in the last three years.

"Before we all pile on with criticism, can we instead chose to be positive about the incredible improvements up there and celebrate these amazing Gardens.

"We are choosing not to share a picture of the damage."

Already £115 has been raised towards the repair costs.

The sundial was placed in the gardens in November, its installation literally turned the clock back

For when Rivington Terraced Gardens were originally created for Lord Leverhulme in the early 1900s, a sundial had stood on the corner of the Orchestra Lawn.

Following Lord Leverhulme’s death in 1925, the lavishly beautiful gardens fell into decline and the sundial disappeared.

All that remained of the sundial was the circular stone plinth that it once sat upon and as part of the ongoing work being undertaken to preserve and protect the Gardens, a new sundial based on the original design was unveiled.

To find out more about the fundraising effort visit Rivington Heritage Trust Facebook page

Moves to reinstall a sundial were made possible thanks to the 600-plus registered volunteers who have been working to restore the gardens to their former 1900s glory as part of a multi-million pound heritage project.

The volunteers, whose ages range from seven to 86 regularly give up their evenings and weekends to clear vegetation, restore pathways and remove rubbish from the 45-acre site.

And their hard work has not only helped to create a better environment for visitors and wildlife, but has also saved the project over £90,000 that it would have otherwise had to pay to contractors.

In 2016, a project to preserve and protect the gardens, which is managed by Groundwork, received £3.4M in lottery funding to restore and reopen its eleven Grade II listed buildings, drain and desilt its two lakes and improve signage and access routes.

The project led to the reopening of the Pigeon Tower, much loved by Lady Leverhulme, after many decades.