Lush Gardens Grow At Historic Train Station

Tue, 14/08/2001 - 01:00

A student has helped transform the gardens of a historic museum in Sunderland.

Mark Ellison, who is studying arboriculture at East Durham College’s Houghall Campus in Durham, was part of the group that volunteered to help at Monkwearmouth Station Museum.

The new gardens at the Museum have proved a blooming success. Visitors were once greeted by an overgrown cotoneaster bush that had been there since the 1970s, and wasteland plagued by fly-tippers.

Now the grounds around the station have been totally transformed into a traditional station master’s garden, woodland glade and wildflower meadow.

As well as making the monument to Sunderland’s industrial heritage look a whole lot prettier, the gardens have become a haven for wildlife including hedgehogs, bees, butterflies and birds.

Mark, 16, from Houghton, said: “I came along to the opening of the wagon shed last year, and decided I wanted to help out at the museum.

“I’ve been helping to put the woodland path in and helping to prune the trees in a way which doesn’t damage them. It looks completely different up there now.”

Duty Manager, Peter Gibson who headed the project said: “We’ve tried to represent a cottage garden that would have existed when the station master and his family lived at the station

“At one time it would have been used as a means to feed his family, but over time that became unnecessary so flowers took over.”

His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Visitor numbers are up at the site, and the gardens have already picked up a Sunderland in Bloom Award and are vying for a Northumbria in Bloom award.

He added: “I’ve worked here for 17 years and I love this museum. But I thought a stunning building and its neo-classical facade deserved a stunning garden.”

Martin Routledge, keeper of history at Sunderland Museums, said: “The gardens are fabulous. Before this the land was pretty dull, but now it’s attracting a lot of comments.

“It’s creating a much bigger experience for people.

“This is such an important site for the city. Sunderland and the whole of the North East was at the centre of the creation of the modern railway system.”