Bleasdale Tower open gardens

Sue McDade (left) and Brenda Lownsbrough help on the garden stall at Bleasdale Tower open garden weekend
Sue McDade (left) and Brenda Lownsbrough help on the garden stall at Bleasdale Tower open garden weekend

Bleasdale Tower opened its gardens at the weekend, raising funds for the local school, church and village hall.

Bleasdale estate owner Jeremy Duckworth was delighted at the turn out and said the success of the event owed much to the support of the local community.

He acknowledged the good work of his gardener David Leece and of the dedicated local residents who help organise and ensure the annual event is a highlight of the local calendar.

In addition to the expected stroll round the extensive garden, which is renowned for its spring show of azalea and rhodedendron blooms, the range of attractions this year included vintage tractors and trikes on Saturday, vintage cars on Sunday, locally made ice cream, delicious strawberry teas and cakes, a well stocked plant stall, bric a brac and car stalls , a local history display and a display of work by pupils from Lancashire’s smallest school - Bleasdale school. Wyre’s Countryside Rangers also had an information stand.

Members of the Bleasdale school band (all nine of the small school’s Key Stage 2 pupils) provided musical entertainment on Saturday.

Mr Duckworth reported that the open garden attracted some 700 visitors and made £3,500 which will be shared between Bleasdale school, Bleasdale village hall and St Eadmer’s church at Bleasdale.

Noting that his mother started the tradition of opening the gardens once a year, which had now continued for more than 40 years, he said:”It raises very much needed funds for the school, church and parish hall. It’s very useful in bringing the community together -it’s a community effort and it’s wonderful.”

Sue and Andrew Jolleys of Goosnargh had braved the cold to show off their 1936 Alvis/Speed 20 car, which they purchased some eight years ago from a Cheshire owner who had cherished it for the previous 43 years.

The Jolleys, who are members of Preston and District vintage car club, provided an information sheet detailing the work they have done to keep the car on the road, including replacing the hide upholstery.

The Alvis has taken them round the Lakes and on trips to Yorkshire and Northumberland and the previous owner toured the vehicle abroad.

Other cars attracting attention included a vintage mini, a Ford Capri and a Rover.

The event also provided an afternoon tea stop for those taking part in one of the closing events of Garstang Walking Festival - a walk to the former North Lancashire Reformatory. which is now private housing.

Walk leader Jean Fone had also organised the local history display, which featured some local records and information about the 14 local soldiers who died in the First World War, researched by the Bleasdale Heritage Group,

She explained the reformatory was the result of the vision of local man William Garnett who was keen to keep boys out of prison. She said :”The reformatory movement advocated that boys should be in a different place to than criminal men...They learned a lot of skills, farming, vegetable growing, and they learnt masonry skills. They built a magnificent bridge just up above the reformatory which is still used every day.”

The reformatory closed around 1902 and is now known as Clough Head Cottages.