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Green fingers needed for historic estate; Liverpool lights up the streets for a night of cultural delights.

Byline: Lorna Hughes

AMATEUR gardeners are being invited to help preserve the magnificent gardens at a historic Wirral estate.

The Grade II listed Thornton Manor, home to three generations of Leverhulmes, boasts more than 60 acres of grounds and parkland.

The gardens were created a century ago by Thomas Mawson - the principal English landscape architect of his day. William Lever, founder of the Port Sunlight soap empire had moved into Thornton Manor and was Mawson's most important client. Dave Milner, one of the late Lord Leverhulme's gardeners who has spent more than 40 years tending the vast landscape of the estate, is leading the call for volunteers.

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or write 48, Old Liverpool Today there are only three gardeners at Thornton Manor which, although sold after the death of the third Viscount Leverhulme in 2000, remains a private manor home and is virtually unaltered.

Dave, 59, went to work for Lord Leverhulme straight from school in 1969 and was once one of 20 gardeners employed to look after the estate.

He said: "I'm working outside on my own much of the time - and 60 acres is a lot of garden. Having volunteers would mean I could concentrate on more detailed work.

"The gardens at Thornton Manor are at their best in spring - the azaleas, magnolias and rhododendrons are just beginning to bloom and will soon be a blaze of colour. There's no place in Wirral quite like this."

views letters@co.uk, PO Box Street, L69 3EB Dave said volunteers don't need a great deal of experience, simply a love of gardening.

He added: "It would just be leisurely work and no one has to use any machinery.

"I'll be there to give advice, so there's no need to worry. People can do as many or as few hours as they want. They can even make a bit of a social occasion out of it as we'll be setting up a refreshment room too, maybe in the saddle room."

Volunteers should call Thornton Manor on 0151 353 1155.

CULTURE fans took to the streets to celebrate Liverpool's first Light Night.

More than 50 city centre venues opened their doors late into the evening on Friday for a series of events, many of them free.

They included explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who gave a talk at Liverpool University about his many adventures, a behind-thescenes tour of Richard Wilson's Turning The Place Over in Moorfields, and a chance to watch Garston-based movie Under The Mud and meet its stars.

Liverpool Biennial created a spectacular show in Jordan Street, where Belgian artist Filip Gilissen's fiery work launched this year's Biennial prog ramme.

There were also performances by choirs, theatre groups and artists, a French-inspired evening at the Walker to coincide with the opening of its Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition, and a preview of this year's Liverpool Arts Prize in the streets of Liverpool One.

Dan Stinson, who co-ordinated the Light Night event, said: "The response was fantastic and helped create a huge festival for which there was no programming money.

"It gave people a chance to see all the things they meant to, but had not had the chance to get round to doing before."

Liverpool's other late-night cultural festival is Liverpool The Long Night, which this year takes place on November 18.

CAPTION(S):

Helen Maher at The Walker Art Gallery A visitor makes their way into the Biennial trailblazer Warren Wakin gets in the spirit of the festival Sir Ranulph Fiennes at Liverpool University
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 17, 2010
Words:584
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