Do you remember the Garden Festival?
International Garden Festival
By Paul Coslett
In 1984 the UK’s first International Garden Festival was held in Liverpool as part of government attempts to regenerate the area.
1984 Garden Festival
The festival included 60 individual gardens on a 950,000 square metre site.
The International Garden Festival attracted over 3.5 million visitors in the five and a half months it was open.
Many of the public artworks from the festival have been relocated around Liverpool including the Yellow Submarine and Kissing Gate.
The 1984 International Garden Festival was the first of its kind in Britain. Billed as "a five month pageant of horticultural excellence and spectacular entertainment" it took place on a site that only two years before had been derelict.
The Festival contained more than sixty individual gardens, a Festival Hall, public pavilions and even a miniature railway which toured the site.
'Wish You Were Here' will be displayed late 2010
It also included a pub, The Britannia and a Pathway of Honour recognising Liverpool stars including Cilla Black, Ken Dodd, and Nerys Hughes.
Public artwork included the Yellow Submarine and John Lennon statue, a Blue Peter ship, 'Wish You Were Here' tourist sculpture, a kissing gate and a large Red Bull.
The artwork has since been relocated to places around the city including Liverpool John Lennon airport, Otterspool Promenade and Lime Street. The 'Wish You Were Here' sculpture will be displayed at the new Museum of Liverpool in 2010.
A statue of John Lennon at the festival
Where was it?
The Garden Festival was built on a site in the old south docks area by the Dingle. Much of the site was derelict and needed to be cleared of industrial waste before the landscaping for the festival could commence.
Why Liverpool and why 1984?
The Garden Festival was one of the first major projects undertaken by the Merseyside Development Corporation a body set up to in the wake of the Toxteth riots to regenerate Liverpool in the early 1980's.
The legacy of the Festival was meant to be a unique riverside parkland gifted to the city and "available for all to share".
The Typhoo Ship
When was it?
The festival ran from 2nd May to 14th October 1984, and highlights included the arrival of the Tall Ships from 1st to 4th August.
What's happened since?
The festival site has changed hands several times since 1984. Half of the original festival grounds have been used for a residential housing development.
The Festival Hall water feature today.
The rest of the site, after various incarnations as leisure and entertainment facilities plans have been revealed to develop the site while retaining some of the original gardens.
The Festival Dome was demolished in late 2006 to make way for the new development.
last updated: 01/05/2009 at 16:29