The primary aim was to return the PRG to its layout at the start of the 20th century – the heyday for the gardens – as shown in the 1905 Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map (scale 25” to a mile).
After the renewal the Linden Arches in 2012, the main objectives were
1. Improving the drainage on the west part of the gardens. The whole of the PRG lie in a flood plain, exacerbated by the clay soil; improvement was achieved by draining water to a newly created low dip known as a swale – like a ditch with gently sloping sides.
The gardens slope from the York Bridge steps towards the north west corner causing waterlogging in wet weather. By encouraging the rain water into the swale and then into a new collection area (the rain garden) from where it runs into the adjacent Leam – with a non-return valve to prevent back flow in times of high river level – drainage was much improved.
The tendency to waterlogging reduced the use of the gardens as the town’s prime amenity space.
A rockery with waterfall had been installed at the west end of the gardens in the 1880s; the waterfall which had been powered from the Pump Rooms was unreliable and abandoned by the 1920s after which the area become neglected.
l to r: Rockery with unsuccessful waterfall late 1800s; new raingarden; overgrown riverbank early 21st century
The project introduced a freshly designed rockery that mimicked the original Victorian one but without waterfall, producing a modern focal point.
2. Clearing the riverbank to reveal the river Leam; planting the bank with low-level vegetation as a wild-life corridor. By the early 21st century the riverbank vegetation obscured the river.
3. Re-laying the paths to renew their foundations along with resurfacing.
4. Renewing the crumbling steps to York Bridge.
5. Renewing and adding small flowerbeds; the location of which had changed during the 20th century.
Flowerbeds in 2021
6. Increasing the seating (from nine to 31 benches). During the 20th century the number of benches had greatly reduced and were of a late 20th century style. The new benches replicate those seen in early 20th century photographs.
7. Restoration of the 1889 bandstand – the focal point of the gardens.
This has been achieved by 2022.