Lord Leverhulme is often regarded as Bolton's most famous son. His profile as an industrialist, philanthropist and progressive social influence shaped society throughout his lifetime and beyond. Rivington Terraced Gardens formed part of his legacy, and local people have likened it to his "Gracelands".
In 1913, his original residence, Roynton Cottage, burned to the ground following an arson attack by the Suffragette Edith Rigby of Preston. Lord Leverhulme then replaced the original cottage with a more substantial residence, "the Bungalow", which survived until after his death. With the outbreak of World War II, the Bungalow was requisitioned as a billet for wounded troops, and Nissen huts were erected in the grounds. The Bungalow's wartime residents were less than attentive to the Bungalow's upkeep during this period, and upon the cessation of hostilities the damage to the structure was such that Liverpool Corporation decided to demolish the building.
The Gardens fell into disrepair over the years, with woodland self seeding across the site. Large parts of the Gardens became inaccessible due to being choked with overgrown rhododendron , which was removed a few years ago, opening up parts of the Gardens again to public view.
The park's situation at the foot of Rivington Pike also gives it an important rooting in local culture and tradition. Every year on good Friday, thousands of local residents pass through the Terraced Gardens on their way to the Pike. This Easter Walk is a deeply-rooted tradition, and one which people from the area will frequently travel long distances to sustain.
The Gardens have a rich heritage as the pleasure gardens of one of the region's richest and most powerful men. Who knows what deals were done by industrialists strolling the paths of the ravine? Dozens of gardeners worked on the site in its heyday, and many local people have memories of the Gardens. As part of our work, we want to capture more of the Gardens' heritage and share it with a wider world.
Some notable dates are:
1900: WH Lever purchases the Rivington Hall estate comprising 2,100 acres of tenanted farm and
moorland, Rivington Hall and Barns.
First terracing of the site for the bungalow undertaken by Architect Jonathan Simpson.
1901: First phase of prefabricated Roynton Cottage, Belmont, Bolton and South Lodges.
1902: Compulsory purchase by Liverpool Corporation defines the boundaries of Lever Park and the 45 acres
of the Terraced Gardens.
1905: W. H. Lever commissioned Thomas Mawson to design a garden setting for Roynton Cottage. The
layout of the Italian Garden begins.
1906: Construction of the Loggia and Long Walk with its stone archway.
1910: Pigeon Tower designed and construction begins.
Second floor added to Roynton Cottage.
1913: Roynton Cottage burned down.
1914: Construction of the Bungalow begins.
1915: Stone House Lodge constructed.
1919: Construction of the 'Ravine'.
1923: Japanese Garden construction.
1924: Work begins on excavation of the Great Lawn to create additional water supply for the Ravine.
1925: 27 April Lord Leverhulme dies.
November – Bungalow and Gardens bought by John Magee, local brewery owner.
1926: Abandoned third lake project converted to shale tennis courts.
1938: John Magee dies – Bungalow and Gardens put up for sale.
1939: A consortium of local authorities fail to agree a purchase of the site. World War 2 begins and access
to Government loans is barred. Liverpool Corporation buy the site.
1947: Bungalow and ancillary structures are demolished.
1974: Liverpool Corporation Water Board responsibility is transferred to North West Water Authority.
1996: Terraced Gardens become part of the development proposal for the Rivington Area piloted by North
West Water Limited (now United Utilities plc).
1997: Rivington Heritage Trust set up.
2005: Defra control order issued for eradication of Rhododendron on siteFirst attempt to secure funding for a restoration project.
2011: Groundwork Lancashire West & Wigan engaged to develop a plan for the site and seek funding.
2013 Backing secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund (Stage 1) to develop a full proposal for the site to take to Stage 2 of the funding process.
2015: Full proposal submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund (Stage 2)
2016: 9th August, Permission to start is given by the Heritage Lottery Fund to begin the improvement works