Supporters of Ashton Gardens

SOAG exists to protect, preserve and enhance Ashton Gardens

The Ashton Institute before its removal


A quiet game of bowlsNews

Centenary Celebrations 2016

Several events and activities have been planned to celebrate the centenary of the opening of the gardens, including:

Download a posterAn illustrated, in-depth talk setting out the History of Ashton Gardens - looking at how the creation of the new town of St Annes led to the gardens being developed - initially as St Georges Gardens, who created them; why they were developed; and why as St George’s Gardens, they fell into disrepair.

The talk will then look at Lord Ashton and his connection with the new town of St Annes - who he was; why he was interested in St Annes, and how he became involved with Ashton Gardens, before concluding with the epic 'Safeway' battle that saw SOAG come into being, and the history of the Lord Ashton Monument in the Rose Garden, and how and why SOAG restored it.

Please click on the poster to download a full sized version for more details.

Lord Ashton Monument Restored

The restored Lord Ashton MonumentFylde's 2012 Mayor: Howard HenshawA grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund allowed SOAG to undertake a major project for the gardens.

We have researched the history of how the gardens were made, and documented that story with over 3,500 images of documents and photographs.

We presented the findings of that research at a major seminar in June 2011, and completed the restoration of the Lord Ashton Monument.

A handover ceremony saw Fylde's Mayor receive the completed monument from SOAG on behalf of the people of the town.

The picture below shows SOAG's members celebrating the completed restoration.
SOAG's members celebrating the completed restoration

25 June 2011 will see the findings of our research published.

This was a major seminar setting out the history of the gardens from before they were first laid out, through their first layout by Edward Thomas, and onward to the story of how Lord Ashton became History of Ashton Gardens Presentation of Findingsinvolved with St Annes and why he gave he gardens to the people.

The seminar was in three parts. Firstly Ruth Thurnhill of the Lancashire Gardens Trust will set the scene by explaining how the public parks movement came about and which were the early public parks.

Next, SOAG's Chairman -  Fred Moor explained how the town and the gardens were created out of a sand dune wilderness. This included considerable information about Edward Thomas who first laid out the gardens.

Finally SOAG's Vice Chairman - Jon Harrison - explained how and why Lord Ashton came to be involved and why he gave today's equivalent of 5 million to buy the gardens.

SOAG's Lottery Bid
SOAG Executive CommitteeWe heard today (April 2010), that we have been successful in obtaining the maximum grant provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund under their 'Your Heritage' scheme.

So this morning we took a celebratory picture of SOAG's Executive Committee who have worked hard over the last few years to prepare the bid to restore the Lord Ashton Monument in the Rose Garden.

The really had work starts now though as we set about forming  project committee and appointing architects and specialist contractors to restore the monument.

We will also be undertaking research into the history of the gardens and the monument and will publish the findings of that work in the near future. We hope to hold a major seminar once the research is completed, and we expect to publish a DVD and to expand the website.

Fylde's Lottery Bid

Fylde Council submitted their lottery bid on 7 September 2005.  We wholeheartedly support the principle of the lottery bid but, in common with other community groups, we believe the Council's vision, and the principles behind this latest bid, will renovate and modernise, rather than restore and respect the Gardens. 

Councillor Coombes told the local paper that he wanted to see the area as a "vibrant leisure facility". We hoped they would focus on the fact that they are gardens,  not a leisure centre, and they are of significant historic importance to the town.

Based on expert opinion and public opinion surveys, we reluctantly advised the Council we were unable to support this version of their plan. Please see a summary of our position here, and our full response to the Council here

We thought and hoped we might have the gardens restored to Edwardian splendour -  something like the picture below.  Instead, the area of bedding-out plants will reduce by more than 600 square yards, and most of the landscape work has been slipped forward to a future scheme that may or may not happen at all. The present scheme is mostly for buildings and lighting. The Council remains unmoved in its intention to modernise the gardens, and looks set to repeat the mistake it made with St Annes Town Centre.

Period Gardens at Ripon, Yorkshire.

SOAG presents Cheque for Bulbs

Soag presents cheque for 200 worth of spring bulbs in the gardens

On 5th October 2005, SOAG presented a cheque to Fylde Parks department for  200 worth of spring flowering bulbs to be planted in the gardens. Presenting the cheque, Treasurer Jill Sumner said " We raise funds to protect, preserve and enhance the gardens, and we hope the displays of spring flowers will be brighter as a result of our donation today". The picture shows committee members Eileen Harvey, Audrey Bex, Jill Sumner, Fred Moor and receiving the cheque, Councillor Barbara Pagett.

Latest on the Charity Registration

Not a great deal to report at this time. The most recent information from the Council suggests they are trying to avoid having to register the land with the Charity Commission. We are in touch with both parties at the present time,  and monitoring developments. 

Goodbye to the Institute

The Ashton Institute - Gone.

According to Fylde Borough Council, this is work to "Record, carefully dismantle and store" the Institute's key elements.

In late July 05, The Council's contractors began to dismantle the Institute. It was completed on 6 August. The Council's intention is to store the parts for up to two years, then re-erect and restore it between the present toilets and the War Memorial.  Follow the "dismantling" link above and see if you think it is being carefully dismantled for restoration, or demolished with a few bits saved for token re-use.

At its September meeting, Councillor David meldrum of the recently formed Saint Anne's on Sea Parish Council moved a resolution saying "This Council notes with disquiet the careless manner in which the Ashton Institute has been dismantled, making the task of restoration appear both difficult and expensive. This Council reminds Fylde Borough Council of its public undertaking to restore the Institute on a new site within Ashton Gardens. This Council urges the Borough Council to be mindful of the wishes of the citizens to preserve the heritage of St Annes in all its aspects"  The Parish Council gave this resolution unanimous support. We are grateful to Councillor Meldrum and the St Annes Parish Council for their support.


Email list

We are setting up an email list so members of SOAG can keep up to date with the latest news as it happens, and we can do so cost effectively. If you would like to join the SOAG members emailing list, please send an email to

Supporters of Ashton Gardens 

Copyright 2012 Fred Moor.
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