Pilton Garden Makeover Marks 40th Birthday

A project to improve Pilton’s Rotary Gardens is now complete, in time for the park’s 40th anniversary on Friday 23 May.

Work at the gardens began last year, with a new path and benches and extensive work on the trees and shrubs, giving the place a fresh look and making it more accessible for the local community. This week the finishing touches were made to the area around the pond.

Three new information boards have also been placed around the gardens. Two of the boards provide visitors with a potted history of Pilton and the Rotary Gardens. The third board is a tree trail, designed to help people enjoy the beauty of a variety of trees around the gardens.

The information boards have been designed with the help of the Rotary Club of Barnstaple and members of a local community heritage project called The Pilton Story.

£12,000 of Section 106 funds was released by North Devon Council for the overall project, following a consultation event with the local community. Section 106 is money contributed by developers as part of the planning conditions of large planning applications.

Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Derrick Spear, says: “Pilton has a rich history and a very active community, which is clear from the involvement of the Rotary Club and the Pilton Story in this project. This is exactly the sort of project that Section 106 money should be spent on, which is a contribution from developers to make improvements for the local community.”

Local ward member, Councillor Brian Greenslade, says: “I’m glad to see the finishing touches made to this project. As well as improving the look and accessibility of the gardens, we have also installed CCTV at Pilton Causeway. It’s lovely to see the new facilities being used, especially during the Pilton Green Man Festival, which always brings crowds of visitors to the gardens.”

The Rotary Club of Barnstaple’s immediate past President, Brian Ross, helped coordinate the project throughout his Rotary year. He says: “We know the former presidents involved and their chairman, the late Vivian Moon, would be proud if they could see it today. We hope everyone can visit and enjoy the tranquil setting, right here in Barnstaple and of course enjoy the Pilton Festival – when the gardens are not quite so tranquil.”

Margaret Reed, Pilton historian and member of The Pilton Story team, says: “This project links in well with our collection of Pilton’s heritage.  We have fascinating evidence of the historic use of the land which is now Rotary Gardens, over more than 100 years. We were also very pleased to be involved in such a wonderful example of community, council and charity working together to provide a lasting amenity.”

The Rotary Gardens were first laid out as a rest garden for the local community and the elderly in 1974 by the Rotary Club of Barnstaple, in celebration of the club’s 50th anniversary. Care of the gardens was then transferred to North Devon Council, which is still responsible for its maintenance today.

PHOTO: Left to right: Liz Eveleigh from The Pilton Story, 1974, Secretary of the Rotary Club of Barnstaple John Moore, Margaret Reed from The Pilton Story, Pilton Ward Member Cllr Brian Greenslade, current President of the Rotary Club Brian Kettle, past President of the Rotary Club Brian Ross and Pilton Ward Member Cllr Mair Manuel.