Walton Lea Project

Our Purpose

We are a charity which provides supported employment for adults

  • with learning disabilities,
  • mental health problems,
  • mobility issues
  • and early onset Alzheimers.

The type of jobs we offer are gardening, woodwork, floristry, conservation work, working in our shop, dealing with customers  etc. Some people work one day a week whilst others come Monday to Friday.You have to like working outdoors!

In order to finance our work we rely on: Support from Warrington Social Services, Charitable trusts, sales of vegetables and plants that we grow, sales of seasonal products that we make, short courses that we run in subjects like floristry and those for the RHS.


The Walton Lea Project opened in 1998. The vision to train and  employ adults with learning difficulties in horticulture grew out of discussions between Warrington Community Transport and the  Supported Learning Department of  Warrington Collegiate,  Institute at Padgate College  Campus during the late 1990’s. A traditional one acre Victorian walled garden at Walton Lea in the south west of the borough, owned by Warrington Borough Council, lay overgrown and idle and this would be the home of the new charity. We can be thankful that the people who had this vision put a successful lottery bid together in 1997 and the charity was born.Warrington Collegiate itself also continued to provide horticultural courses for adults with learning difficulties at its Long Lane site but withdrew from this activity in 2007.  Our charity was able to take over the Long Lane site and increase the number of adults that it supports.


The walled garden was part of a mansion built by George Crosfield in 1864. His brother John bought it in 1875 when George moved to London. The Armitage family then bought it the early 1900’s when the rest of the Crosfield family moved to London. When they sold it in 1923 the Greenall family, political rivals of the Crosfields, acquired it and eventually demolished it, leaving the cottages, lodge and the walled kitchen garden intact.The Victorians were meticulous in siting and sizing their gardens. Ours measures one acre and the  land  slopes  downwards  from  the  south-facing wall toward the  north-facing  wall,  so that it  “tilts” towards the sun.  In  1942,  the  kitchen  garden  at  Walton  Lea,  which  had  recently been acquired by Warrington  Borough  Council,  as  part  of  a  plot,  which covered  over  48  acres, was  used  for  intensive  vegetable  growing.  The Walton  Lea  garden,  in  the  early days  of  Warrington  Borough  Council ownership,  produced  all  the  year  round  vegetables and tomatoes  for  the hospitals,  and  privets  for  the  new  estates  of Warrington.  The  emphasis  then  changed  to  becoming  a  nursery  for  growing trees, shrubs  and young plants.  There  was  heavy  investment  in  the  Youth  Training Schemes (YTS) at  Walton  Lea.  The present greenhouses were built with YTS money. The nursery  closed  around  1990  when  it  was  deemed  no  longer economically viable.  The Walton Lea Project ushered in another new and productive episode in the life of this lovely garden.