I wrote recently (here) about the disused industrial buildings of Stoke-on-Trent and the daunting conservation challenge they represent. But if you want to have hope that conservation is possible in Stoke it is worth visiting Trentham Gardens on the outskirts. Trentham was for many years the seat of the Dukes of Sutherland but they abandoned the house and grounds in the early C20 because of the then extent of the pollution in the River Trent (a problem which has now largely been resolved). And when the then Council was not interested in the house – apparently because it was ‘too far from the city’ – most of the house was pulled down. The gardens went into a slow spiral of decay until they were bought by property developers St Modwen who have done an exemplary job of restoration and renewal. The gardens are now a national tourist attraction with almost 500,000 visitors per year and featuring the work of some of the world’s most distinguished garden designers.
The next stage for St Modwen is to develop the remains of the house and support buildings. plans for a hotel have apparently been abandoned and the buildings will be converted into what should be highly desirable houses and flats.