Ashton Gardens is a charming public park in the heart of St Annes. Situated just 100 metres from The Square, the gardens are a must for any visitor to the town.
Originally established as a garden by the St Annes Land and Building Company in 1874, the gardens were formally known as St. George’s Gardens. The park was placed to provide attractive recreational areas for residents and visitors as part of the town’s design. This shows the importance placed by town planners of the time to develop such areas as ‘green lungs’ for the towns and cities of the time.
The gardens were located within a rectangular plot of land, connected to St. George’s Road, and running parallel to St. Andrew’s Road. They were approximately 140m from the seafront and their proximity to the sea would still have been evident due to the open nature of the park’s surroundings and the views across the sand dunes. Views to open sea would have been prevented around 1893 due to a housing development along North Promenade Road.
The garden was originally laid out to, as far as possible; retain the topography of the natural sand dunes. It remained largely unchanged until 1914 when Lord Ashton gave a donation to acquire the gardens for the people of St Anne’s. He also bought another strip of land which connected the gardens to Clifton Drive North.
Later in the same year the Council ran a competition for the redesign of the gardens, which was won by Mr F. Harrison, a local man. The gardens were redesigned to incorporate a greater diversity of spaces. Large areas of ornamental planting replaced the native sand dune vegetation, although the undulating topography was retained in most areas and can still be seen today. Ashton Gardens were formally open on the 1st July 1916.
In the years since, the garden has seen the addition of a rose garden and a rock and water garden. Both of these are still part of the gardens today. Both were constructed by Messers Pulham & Son who specialised in the creation of picturesque ferneries and rock gardens.