13 August 2015
This community group, looking after one of the largest herbaceous borders in the country, are proud to raise their Green Flag Community Award this year.
This Southport site's unusual name, 'Rotten Row' is traceable to the late nineteenth century and derives the Rotten Row in London's Hyde Park, which is a broad straight road or walkway along the southern edge of the park
During the last century, and up to 20 years ago, Rotten Row was an extremely popular place to visit, particularly during the summer months. It boasts one of the largest herbaceous borders in the country (746 metres). Visitors would take a leisurely walk alongside the colourful borders or take advantage of the regular coach tours, which included Rotten Row on the town's tourist route.
Over the years leading up to the formation of the Friends of Rotten Row (FORR), the border had deteriorated to the extent that it was no longer the attraction it had once been. The borders to one side of Rotten Row had been replaced with grass and it was feared that the opposite side was threatened with the same fate. It had become a dumping ground for rubbish, was overwhelmed with weeds and devoid of colour.
Many of the local residents regretted the deterioration of Rotten Row and the loss of what had once been one of Southport's jewels in its crown. A decision was therefore made to apply for Heritage Lottery Funding to restore the site to its original condition. The application was successful and working in partnership with Sefton Parks and Greenspaces and The Landscape Group work commenced in 2011.
The border has an immediate visual impact on visitors and a sensory area is currently being developed. It promotes Southport's tourism as it is located close to a number of visitor attractions including a visitor caravan park, Victoria Park, a cycling club, tennis club, model car club, croquet club, model engineering club, restaurant, model boating club and children's playground.
It attracts all age groups and it is particularly noticeable that an increasing number of elderly and disabled residents are regular visitors because of its safe, even access and the availability of free parking.
In the three years since the restoration commenced, the group has achieved an average of 77 volunteer hours per week, which is higher than the average in the borough. The total volunteer hours up to the beginning of July were 10,500 and FORR strives to increase the number of volunteers as the popularity and impact associated with Rotten Row touches the wider community. Each volunteer session is for a minimum of two hours (longer during the summer months or when specific works are required) and there are three sessions per week over 48 weeks, ensuring that the standard of maintenance is continuous.
All volunteers are encouraged to engage with the public and answer any queries regarding Rotten Row and plant identification whilst working on the border. This has already proved to be very popular and has the dual advantage of attracting new volunteers as well as improving the visitor experience. Local schoolchildren have been involved in designing themes for the borders.
FORR have received awards from North West in Bloom in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and, additionally in October 2014, had the great honour of being awarded the City of Liverpool Trophy Best Neighbourhood Award (NW in Bloom) and the Top Honour of the NWIB Helena Homes Trophy for the Best Overall Neighbourhood.
In January of this year we applied for Community Green Flag award and were judged in June, with very favourable comments. We were overjoyed to hear that we had been successful in our venture to gain the Green Flag Community Award and had our flag raising ceremony in August which was well publicised by the local press. Find out more about the group at www.friendsofrottenrow.com