How it all began...

 

In 1999 members of the Wolverton Society for Arts & Heritage talked about a discarded, overgrown, piece of land they walked through, would it be possible to acquire it and turn it into a garden that everybody could enjoy, in a town with too few green spaces. The name came from a group member’s favourite childhood book, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett where children go through a hidden door and discover an overgrown garden that’s mystical and magical.  We hope that as this garden matures it will become more and more magical for children from 3 to 103.

 The original track down into the garden

The site was formerly occupied  by 4 villas (semi-detached houses), built by the London & Birmingham Railway Company in the 1840s to house some of the important members of the management of the Railway Works. Occupied until the late 1960s when the houses were demolished, the area had become neglected.  A sub-committee, which eventually evolved into the Wolverton Secret Garden Society, was formed to pursue the project to turn this land into a community garden.

Then one of our members  bumped into an employee of Railtrack at a family gathering which enabled us to start negotiations with them, and to cut a long story short, Railtrack (now Network Rail), agreed to sell the land to the Wolverton & Greenleys Town Council for £1, provided that it should remain a garden in perpetuity. 

 

So we’ve got the land, but what sort of garden would people like?  With the help of funding from the Countryside Agency Doorstep Greens scheme we employed landscape architect Neil Higson, then of Landscape Town & Country, who drew up three different schemes. Group members then took these plans out to public consultation.  We took them to various community events - a ' Down Memory Lane' history day, the 'In the Square' music festival and the Friday Country Market.



    The design that people liked best was the less formal one, with a path that wound through the site, a formal 'Villa Garden' on the site of the former Stationmaster's  and Works Accountant's Villas and a less formal area where wildife could be encouraged and where there might be more 'mystery' and surprises.

    The plan also included a footbridge link from the canal towpath on the only other side of the canal.  This was an extremely popular feature and one which we are still seeking funding to put in place.







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