£90,000 Lottery grant to restore Harrogate's Japanese Garden to 1930s glory

A bid to restore an essential part of Harrogate's traditional splendour has been boosted by a grant of nearly £90,000.

Wednesday, 4th January 2017, 4:06 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 12:02 pm
The part of the Valley Gardens where the restored Japanese Garden will be located.

Friends of Valley Gardens Harrogate have been awarded £89,200 to partner with Harrogate Borough Council (HBC), in order to restore a Japanese Garden to its former glory.Within the Valley Gardens, Harrogate there is a small area which has a unique heritage.In 1930 it was a Japanese Garden, designed at the time Japanese gardens were built in estates and parks.Today it has been absorbed into the rest of the garden, a good place for a game of ‘hide and seek’, but hardly anyone remembers its hidden heritage. This project will restore the garden to reflect the heritage from archive postcards, and at the same time recreate the unique atmosphere that this type of physical heritage can achieve. The project will have a lasting legacy for Harrogate, and will restore a beautiful piece of little-known heritage within the grade II listed Valley Gardens which receives more than three million visits a year.Ann Beeby, the project leader, said: “We are truly delighted to have won this Heritage Lottery Fund grant at such an opportune time during the run up to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and look forward to working with everyone to restore an important part of the Valley Garden’s Heritage”.The cash injection by Heritage Lottery means the Friends of Valley Gardens’ long-held ambition to revive the town’s Japanese Garden can now finally be realised.The FOVG team have been working on the project in partnership with Harrogate Borough Council for most of the last year.The submission of a Heritage Lottery Bid with detailed plans and costings was made in September and the good news was received this week.Friends of Valley Gardens chairman Jane Blayney said: “We are extremely appreciative of this award and all the hard work put in by members Ann Beeby and Liz Chidlow who, assisted by Kate Dawson, Harrogate Borough Council’s strategic development manager, who prepared and lodged the application.“We can all look forward to an exciting year, during which the main part of the construction should be completed.” FOVG, a registered Harrogate charity run by volunteers, is expected to start very shortly.”Not only will the £89,200 grant enable involve the creation of a beautiful new garden, it will also involve a major interaction between Harrogate and Japanese culture and history.The area in Valley Gardens is not suitable for the dry garden style of Japanese garden, so the Friends of Valley Gardens intend to make the most of the rock and water features, as well as modifying the planting.In this FOVG is being guided by the expertise of Japanese Garden Society.Its vice-chairman, Graham Hardman, is aiming to create a design which incorporates elements of the garden as it was in 1930 from archive images and up-to-date ideas in Japanese gardens.