The Regency Restoration Project has been an interesting experience in juggling.
So while we rightly applaud Paxton and his team for their efforts with no modern equipment to hand, he did live in a different time. Society is learning, sometimes the hard way, to value our spaces; both for their heritage and their natural landscape, and those are values to which the Garden holds true. So, where Paxton would have made a plan, and asked only how much it cost, we have had several competing issues to deal with;
- Protecting the parkland which is registered as a Park and Garden with Special Historic Interest- Not just for the Regency times, but honouring both the earlier history of East India Company founders the Middletons, who gave the estate its site and name, but also the later inhabitants of the Adams, Abadams, Gwynne’s, and right up to the 20th Century farming community who lived, worked and played on this estate until the formation of the botanic garden.
- Protecting important species – we’ve carried out a yearlong ecological survey on the Garden (over most of the whole 568 acre site). Our consultant ecologists have monitored protected species like dormouse, otter, badges, barn owls and bats; and surveyed the park to tell us what vegetation is where, including the types of plants like grasses, lichens, mosses wildflowers and important floristic species.
- Our archaeological team worked hard to investigate the remaining waterpark to guide and inform our engineers in the absence of plans, drawings or detail documents of the work.
- Stringent new reservoirs legislation protecting downstream communities from flooding
- And the Garden is open, 363 days a year to the public, with over 140,000 annual visitors from far and wide.
Have I forgotten anything – oh yes, we still have budgets to meet and costs to bear down on.
Balancing these issues has not been easy but we’ve done it, and we are justly proud of all our hard work. Guided by Rob and supported by our technical experts, our team here have done sterling work – I couldn’t have asked (or hoped for) a better one. We have Louise our Heritage Officer bringing an incredible wealth of experience from the heritage sector, whose hard work and dedication to this project is amazing; Rachael (Project Administrator) whose organisational skills have kept us on the straight and narrow, and who has taken on new tasks and challenges with boundless enthusiasm and great success, and our creative and skilled Volunteer and Outreach Officer HollyMae whose work has brought together and organised a magnificent group of volunteers who are still providing support of the most incredible quality.
And this is the power of this project. It reaches out, back through time, across many disciplines and catches your attention. If you are a computer buff – we’ve got GIS linked to archaeological records and more.. If you are any sort of engineer or scientist, I would defy you not to be amazed at the work that has gone on and will go on. If you are an economist you can join the historians and the geographers as you chart the growth of the global economy from its first steps in the East India Company of the Elizabethan era. If you are an artist, come and join Hornor’s tradition and interpret this landscape through your art.
So keep everything crossed for our project – we look forward to giving you good news in September. This county, Garden and project have much, much more to give back to the local community, Wales and the World!
And yes, if you can’t tell. I am still excited about our Regency Restoration Project.