Whickham Hermitage Community Garden
Once part of a private residence dating back to 1790, the hermitage garden had been unknown to the local community for about 60 years.
In 2002 the neglected garden was discovered by local resident Dave Peacock who arranged a public meeting, and formed a committee to gain planning permission and generate funding in order to restore the garden to its former glory, preventing former plans for the site to become a car park. In 2003, a second public meeting was held where the Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor David lynn, ceremonially signed a 10 year tenancy document.
Between 2004 and 2006, the garden was extensively restored, and original features including a lake, boathouse, bridge and a pagoda were retained. The lake was made into a wildlife pond and bog garden. A new wooden watchtower was built and fitted as a toilet for disabled people.
The summerhouse (pagoda) shows a pictorial gallery of Whickham's history and is a showcase for photographs of the work done in restoring the garden. A pergola has been added, paths have been laid, and the garden extensively planted with trees flowers and shrubs. An accessible vegetable garden with raised beds gives hands on experience to children from local schools and to provide the opportunity to learn about cultivation and land preservation. The garden was officially opened by the mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Maureen Goldsworthy (pictured above).
In July 2009, Dave Peacock was awarded an M.B.E in the Queens birthday honours list for his work and commitment involved in restoring the garden. Articles where written in the Evening Chronicle and the Journal on that Saturday as well as being interviewed by B.B.C. Dave and his wife travelled to Buckingham Palace in November 2009 to receive the award by Prince Charles in the Palace Ballroom. It was a truly wonderful experience for them both and true to form, Dave took his faithful old cap!
Restoration of the garden has relied heavily on volunteers, particularly the men from Community Payback who have helped with much of the heavy work.
We are always looking for help and support. Helpers need not necessarily be gardeners as support of any kind is welcome, by giving advice or expertise, arranging events or raising funds, providing tools and equipment, or just giving us encouragement. Volunteers come from different age groups so you will never be too young or too old!
We depend entirely on public money and generous grants from Gateshead Council, Awards for all, Gateshead Health Action Zone and many others have paid for the restoration. In addition, donations are made by visitors to the garden and funds are also raised by groups from the community centre.
Come along and like the chidren and parents pictured above, enjoy a lovely day out in the tranquil surroundings of the beautiful Whickham Hermitage Community Garden.
Visit the Hermitage Web Site created by Victoria Bell at: www.whickhamhermitagegarden.co.uk