SIXTEEN years ago Valley Gardens, in Barnoldswick, was just a dilapidated open space used primarily as a dog walking route.

Now the area is unrecognisable, having been transformed into a Green Flag park featuring wooded walkways, communal green space, and a children’s play area.

The improvements are down to a small group of residents who call themselves Valley Gardens Working Group.

Founder member Hazel Nutter says the gardens have proved a huge benefit to the local area.

She said: “As a child, I would spend a lot of time down by the beck playing by the mill races. As I got older, I noticed that people only went down there to walk their dogs.

“We felt it was a shame and wanted to turn it into something that the community could use. I approached one of the local councillors and we organised a meeting to get people’s views.

“The meeting was well attended and we came up with the idea of an area for pond-dipping and picnic benches.

“We organised a country fair which raised £2,000 towards the transformation.”

Over the years, the group managed to secure funding towards a children’s play area.

Members have also created flower beds, and have just completed the first stage of a new terraced area near the beck.

In addition to this, they have planted fruit trees, and hope to plant more in order to create a small orchard.

Group secretary Joyce Holgate said: “We have been trying to look after the upkeep of the area as well as making improvements to make it more attractive, such as planting colourful flowers.

“Most recently, we have put in a terraced area and planted fruit trees.

“We hold an annual country fair as a fundraiser to pay towards these improvements.

“The fair is a really good day out for the family. We have had a number of stalls, a children’s entertainer and origami kite making as well as a whole host of other activities.

“Looking to the future, we really need new members to join the group, ideally some who are younger.

“We want to keep the area looking nice but we are all getting older so some younger bodies who could help out would be really appreciated.”

For more information about joining Valley Gardens Working Group, call Pendle Council’s parks outreach and park keeper service on 01282 661569, or 01282 661600.