What was it?
Garden Festival took place in 1984 from 2 May to 14
October on a site in the old south docks area by the
Dingle and was the first event of this kind to have been
held in the UK.
In 2 years, 500 firms and thousand of workers
coordinated by Merseyside Development Corporation had
transformed 125 acres of rubbish and neglect into an
imaginative and undulating parkland. The docks have been
renovated, the riverside landscaped and new industrial
Described as “a five-month pageant of
horticultural excellence and spectacular
entertainment”, the event presented more than
60 individual gardens and a succession of floral
displays and competitions. Thirty countries took part in
the event and twenty of them had major gardens outside
during the whole of the festival, reflecting their own
national horticultural tradition and their culture.
The Festival grounds was divided in four sections:-
the permanent features, with the Festival Hall, the
Arena and Arena Theatre, the water features, the Marine
Esplanade and the Pathway of Honour;
- the national themes, illustrating many aspects of
gardening in Britain;
- the international themes, presenting every continent
and a wide range of climate;
- the home and gardens features, with show-houses and
Impact/repercussions on local life:-
Festival was at the time a means for the government to
stimulate the regeneration of inner city areas and
improve the environment of local people.
lot of repercussions were expected in term of tourism
and trade. The Festival was the occasion to generate
important and wealthy flows, intermingling and
cross-fertilization, stimulating the local activities as
well as through the country.
millions of visitors walked and discover the activities
of the Festival during five months.
this time, Liverpool was this kind of city burdened by
high unemployment and low morale. The ability to
organise a event on a such scope brought vigor and new
life into the area.
The Festival and its aftermath:-
Festival, part of the site should be converted into
leisure and recreational facilities, with the Festival
Hall as a major venue. Another part should be available
for housing and industrial purposes, such as the
show-houses and their garden, which should be sold for
private occupation and the development, extended. There
also should be left a wide parkland, a number of
specialist gardens and a Riverside walkway.
of the original Festival grounds have been indeed used
for a residential housing development. For the rest of
the site, after a few attempts of conversion into
entertainment facilities, the place remained empty,
abandoned and deteriorating over the last 20 years. The
lease has changed hands several times. And in order to
counter the risk of misuse, of the site, by not very
scrupulous builders and contractors, the organisation
Garden Festival Campaign has been founded, in 2002, by a
group of south Liverpool residents.
In May 2004 a deal was finally concluded, selling in
a multi-million pound deal, the site from Planestation
Group, formerly known as Wiggins, to Haydock-based
Langtree Group, which plans a residential and leisure
scheme. The sale seems to have been welcomed by the
On June 30th, the festival site has won a historic award
for being the most influential landscape development in
Britain, built since 1970. Dr John Ritchie, former
director of development for the Merseyside Development
Corporation, has received the award, granted by the
In 2004 hope remains that something may be on the way to
take advantage of this exceptional and historical land.