Gyllyngdune Gardens restoration project

The restoration project for Gyllyngdune Gardens, Falmouth has been awarded just under one million pounds from the Heritage Lottery under the Parks for People programme. This is a coup for Falmouth as the total project is worth £2.7 million with extra funding coming from organisations such as Play Builder, Cory Environmental Trust and Carrick Leisure. The exciting project will not only see the restoration of the shell grotto and shell seat but also the chapel/summerhouse overlooking the beach as well as returning the planting to an historical context A strip of land is to be brought from neighbouring Gyllyngdune Manor to facilitate a new entrance from Emslie Road as well as a new sloping path for disabled access. Work has already been undertaken to repair the veranda around the Princess Pavilion and further works to this building will see a complete refurbishment of the café, an improved entrance foyer for the theatre and a new entrance from Melville Road.

Members who attended the 2007 Association of Gardens Trusts conference will remember being given a tour of the project by Jon James and seeing the current state of the gardens..

The Heritage Lottery award will see the gardens restored to their former glory and fit for twenty-first century use.  During the restoration, information boards will be on display and visitors will be able to study the progress of the work.

The executive board, of which the Cornwall Gardens Trust is a member, has been reformed under the chairmanship of Julian German, the portfolio holder for the Environment and Waste of Cornwall Council.  The project manager is Jon Mitchell working with Alan Horne of Carrick Leisure and Jon James, Cornwall Council’s Operations Manager.  The group will meet quarterly from 1st February 2010 for a five year period to oversee the establishment and delivery of the Heritage Lottery Fund funded project receiving quarterly progress reports, reviewing progress of key work-streams, and discussing and agreeing change requests as well as being advocates for the project.

With the help of a grant from Play Builder a play area has been developed on the site of a derelict municipal greenhouse in the upper gardens.  Local children from four Falmouth primary schools joined Cornwall Council’s design team to develop the story of Morgawr, the Falmouth Bay Sea Serpent who comes to the garden every 26th moon.  The story provides the link between the top garden, the rose garden and the features such as the stone arch, the grotto and the sea.  The design is a bulky, sinuous landform of this mythical sea dragon lying in its lair alongside the path.  Most of the materials were locally sourced and fabricated by local crafts people.

The latest news is that the main contract has been let and work started on the remainder of the site on 22nd November 2010.  It is proposed that the official opening of the restored gardens will be in September 2011.

Nigel Mathews