Gardening project unearths green history at Woodend

The gallery at Woodend which was home to the largest indoor garden.
The gallery at Woodend which was home to the largest indoor garden.

Woodend is returning to its gardening roots after teaming up with a Scarborough charity in a bid to help people grow fruit and vegetables.

Staff at Woodend Creative Workspace, in The Crescent, have linked up with the Castle Community Network, which runs the Growing Opportunities project, and in doing so have discovered how ‘green’ Scarborough’s Victorians were.

Growing Opportunities works to match people with land so they can grow their own fruit and vegetables.

Andrew Clay, director at Woodend, said: “We’ve plenty of space at Woodend so the link with Growing Opportunities is a perfect fit.”

Growing Opportunities will be installing seven raised beds at Woodend, made from reclaimed wood, and will provide mentoring for people to create an ‘edible garden.’

“This is a really exciting project for us,” said Mr Clay. “Many of our tenants have a green agenda within their businesses. But what has made it extra special are the links we’ve discovered between the current project and the Sitwell family.”

As the home of the Sitwells from 1870-1934, Woodend famously had the largest indoor garden in the country, housed in what is now the gallery.

“What we’ve discovered is several features of the house appear to have been designed with a very early ‘green agenda.’ added Mr Clay. “For example, there are holes and channels in the balcony to allow rainwater to drain away. There is evidence this was collected in water butts and used on the gardens, and we will follow exactly this model with Growing Opportunities.”

There are also plans to create Victorian wildflower and herb gardens at Woodend. Architect and Woodend tenant Mick Paxton is drawing up plans for the project.

Mr Clay added: “We’re preserving another part of Woodend’s heritage and at the same time giving local people the chance to benefit from the expertise of Growing Opportunities.”