A forgotten corner of Warrington, close to the town’s cenotaph, is set to be transformed as part of a community project remembering one of the town’s Alderman and a local soldier who was tragically killed in Afghanistan.
Warrington Borough Council is working with the community on plans to breathe new life into Marshall Gardens on the banks of the River Mersey on Bridgefoot, opposite the town’s Cenotaph.
A business plan is being developed to turn the site, situated opposite the cenotaph at Bridgefoot, into a Memorial Garden.
Marshall Gardens was named after Hon Alderman Edward Marshall M.B.E. an influential and respected member of the community, who died in 1983 at the age of 103.
Born in Lincolnshire, Marshall moved to Warrington at the age of 20 to work on the railways. He became well known for supporting poorer people and was awarded an M.B.E. for his role as Chair of the Warrington & District Joint Food Control Committee from the start of World War II onwards.
The gardens, which were once a picturesque focal point in the town centre are now in need of refurbishment and the council is working with community figures – including Lisa Billing, the mother of Private Daniel Wade, from Latchford, who was killed fighting in Afghanistan in 2012 aged just 20 – to move forward with the rejuvenation plans.
Plans being discussed include transforming the site into a vibrant, sensory memorial garden, honouring Edward Marshall’s efforts as Chairman of the Food Control Committee and creating a quiet place where people can sit, reflect and remember those who have fallen in war, as well as their own ‘heroes’ who hold a place in their heart. There are also plans for the gardens to play an education role by helping children and young people learn about the history of the war and the sacrifices made.
The programme of works being developed would include the short-term, clean-up of the gardens.
This would pave the way for a refurbishment programme which could include:
●the clearing of overgrown trees and shrubbery
●securing the gardens through new railings and CCTV
●the installation of a new path, benches and bins
●landscaping works and the planting of a variety of colourful, textured, scented flowers
● new sculpture and sensory items, including braille signs
Under the plans, community groups would be engaged to work together on the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens.
Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for leisure and community, Cllr Tony Higgins, said: “I’m really pleased that these plans, to breathe new life into Marshall Gardens, are moving forward.
The gardens, in their position opposite the cenotaph, and with their views of the River Mersey, have real potential to become a haven of peace and reflection.
“We will be working closely with the community to develop these plans, which aim to bring a green, town centre asset back into use and support the ongoing regeneration of our town centre.”
Lisa said: “I came up with the idea of improving the garden on the day my son’s name was put on the wall of the cenotaph. I was able to cross the road into the garden for some peace. It was then that I thought that the gardens need revamping, to bring what was once a beautiful place back to life again.
“My hope is that this will be a community project – which will be dedicated to Mr Marshall and also my son, Private Daniel Wade.”