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RHS BRIDGEWATER

It’s always a pleasure to visit the RHS Bridgewater (Worsley) and it’s a very nice place to have a client meeting at the same time.

Not having a central office makes a huge difference to me. The world is my oyster when I’m engaging with clients whether from a beach in The Bahamas or a back garden in Cheshire. Working for myself gives me a freedom I wish I had explored 25 years ago. Back then I was a partner in my own successful international advertising agency based in Macclesfield – with partners in Boston, San Fransisco, Florida and London. Being mobile and flexible was in my blood.

I was at Bridgewater recently to meet the former MD of AVDanzer and this was a perfect venue because it was AVDanzer who installed the mobile buildings for the construction team that built this fantastic showpiece for the RHS. Now exploring pastures new with Business Development Consultant – ViableWay – we met to chew over our work in progress for their new website and to look at to some future ideas and planning. The cafe is a lovely place to meet, and the wifi is good!

RHS Bridgewater Entrance

The gardens are sustainable and biodiverse and are already looking established. The entire project only started in 2017 and opened in 2021. Featuring cutting-edge design by RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold medal winners alongside numerous dedicated community spaces, Bridgewater is a beacon of gardening inspiration, education and engagement in the heart of the North West of England.

The RHS Garden Bridgewater is the result of a multi-million pound transformation of the historic Worsley New Hall estate, a 154 acre site in Salford that’s now home to 11 stunning garden spaces, including the largest Victorian walled garden in England. One of the biggest garden projects undertaken in Europe at the time, the work has uncovered the lost historic grounds of Worsley New Hall, a grand house that survived a fire and two World Wars before being demolished due to disrepair in the 1940s. This prestigious property was visited by King Edward VII and Queen Victoria, who travelled to the hall via the Bridgewater Canal; in honour of her arrival, the canal water was dyed blue.

Overseen by renowned landscape gardener Tom Stuart-Smith, this once-in-a-generation project brings together world-class planting, community initiatives, stunning woodland and a combined gardening centre and café.

The RHS pledged to find and develop a site for a fifth garden in the north west of England. In November 2015 the RHS, in collaboration with Salford City Council and Peel Land and Property, announced the vision to create the new garden at the site of the 156 acre Worsley New Hall estate.

RHS Garden Bridgewater is the largest gardening project in Europe, and will welcome and inspire up to 700,000 people a year within a decade.

The RHS Garden Bridgewater’s Welcome Building is a new addition to the landscape, the larch-clad structure houses an arrivals hall, shop, café and two classrooms. Designed by Hodder and Partners, the Visitor Centre overlooks the 1.4 acre Moon Bridge Water lake at the rear and leads out onto the Worsley Welcome Garden, where the mosaic-like layout of the flower beds encourages visitors to meander past the plants.

Beyond this is the 11 acre Walled Garden, the ‘horticultural heart’ of the site and with brick walls surviving from the original Worsley New Hall kitchen gardens. Once cultivated by a team of gardeners growing fruit and veg for the hall, the space has been repurposed to include a Mediterranean and Asiatic-inspired Paradise Garden with its central lily pond, a restored Kitchen Garden, Peel Learning Garden, Community Grow and more. Achieved by salvaging and restoring 80% of the 100,000 non-standard bricks, the Paradise Garden alone contains 89 individual planting beds filled with 27,000 plants.

RHS Bridgewater Pathways

The almost three kilometres of pathways that thread across the space lead on to the estate’s woodland, where you can find the stylised wooden bridges that span the Chinese Streamside Garden, as well as a seven-acre Woodland Play adventure area and Ellesmere Lake with its historic island grotto. Beyond this is Victoria Meadow, a low lying, 21-acre area that’s slowly being turned into a wildflower haven, reintroducing the biodiversity lost as a result of intensive farming. The cut grass paths here lead gently back towards the Welcome Building through the woods.

RHS sources:
VISIT MANCHESTER
HODDER + PARTNERS

Photos ©Bammy