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Thirty years after The National Garden Festival transformed the former Shelton Bar steelworks site in Etruria into landscaped areas and displays, local artists are coming together to celebrate the anniversary with a weekend of events at the Festival Park site.

Named ‘The Lost Gardens’, the Festival features an extensive programme of activities, sights and experiences over 16-18 September. Celebrations open on the evening of Friday 16 September from 7.30pm with a special night-time illuminated walk.

The Lost Gardens is being delivered by Artcity, a consortium of independent arts organisations in Stoke-on-Trent, in partnership with regeneration specialist St. Modwen, which is also celebrating its 30th anniversary. Ann Francis is curating the exhibitions.

Trevelyan Wright, Executive Director of B-Arts and festival coordinator, said: “The team at Artcity are really excited to be working with St. Modwen to celebrate such a landmark event in Stoke’s recent history.

“We’ve got a host of exciting artists creating work for the Lost Gardens weekend: Jo Ayre and the clay army, animated animals from Richard Redwin, James Wood’s edible foraging and a temporary playground from Lina Hernandez. The Night Walk is already sold out, highlighting the affection with which the site is held by the city.”

The National Garden Festival was a six-month event in 1986 which featured new gardens, art performance and sculpture and extensive temporary displays across a 160 acre site. Transformed by St. Modwen into Festival Park, the site represents one of the developer’s first flagship regeneration projects, with around 55 of the 160 acre Garden Festival site preserved as mature park, woodland lakes and public open space.

Mike Herbert, Regional Director at St. Modwen, said: “The 1986 Garden Festival was a hugely popular national event which attracted people from across the UK, and the 55 acres of green space is still retained, managed and funded by St. Modwen to this day.

“The Lost Gardens Festival the event is a great way to support local arts organisations in the city, and provides an opportunity for younger generations to experience the 1986 event and engage with the interactive artwork on display, whilst allowing people who remember the festival to reconnect with the many original sculptures which still remain at the site.

“As a further mark of our celebrations, and tying in with St. Modwen’s own 30th anniversary year, we will be planting 30 new trees within the mature parkland during the autumn for future generations to enjoy.”

A recreation of an original street show from the 1986 Festival will also feature at the event, alongside newly created garden spaces and events, focusing attention upon Stoke-on-Trent’s bid for City of Culture 2021.

The success of Festival Park was the catalyst for further regeneration and St. Modwen has expanded the original 160 acre Garden Festival site by encompassing derelict adjacent land to over 300 acres with the Garden Festival site at its heart.  The whole Festival Park and Etruria Valley site now comprises a major employment site in the centre of the city with office and commercial development, retail park, leisure park, 4 star 150 bedroom hotel, restaurants and housing.

Around 1.4m sq ft of new development has been created so far, employing around 6,700 people and has brought circa £195m investment into Stoke. About 47 acres remain for future development in a strategic location off the A53 dual carriageway within 400 metres of the A500 urban expressway, linking Stoke to the M6 junctions 15 and 16.

For details on the festival visit: or for information on St. Modwen visit