A SECRET garden in Kearsley has opened its gates to residents.

Nearly 200 people flocked to the revamped Kearsley Mount Cottage community space.

The building at the Schoenstatt Shrine and Pastoral Centre/St John Fisher RC Church in Manchester Road, has undergone major renovations following a series of donations.

A cash boost from Bolton Community Development Foundation was used to replace the kitchen.

A grant from Bolton CVS covered the costs of garden equipment and a windfall from The Coalfields Regeneration Trust was used to improve the community room.

Celia Eccleston, treasurer at the community hub, said: “The day was excellent. Kearsley Mount Cottage is quite hidden but it’s a place for all of the community.

“A lot of people who came to the open day had never been before. It is like a secret garden where people pass the gate and the sign which says Schoenstatt but do not realise what is there. There is a massive backdrop of scenery.

“People think it’s a religious site but it’s not, it’s a community site. People don’t have to be religious to come and just read their book or come and eat their sandwiches there. People who are religious do come to see the shrine but people are welcome to come and walk around the garden.”

The open day involved a performance from Kearsley Community Choir, Kearsley Youth Brass Band, soprano singer Georgina Murray and guitarist Chris Ward.

Cllr Colin Shaw and Dee Shaw, Mayor and Mayoress of Bolton, attended. Artist Paul Cooper showcased a mosaic he has created, which will be displayed at the site in October to mark the 100th anniversary of The Schoenstatt.

People took part in guided tours of the centre, including visits to the mosaic peace garden and the shrine. Children’s workshops were also held.

People who attended the open day suggested ideas for future at the centre including women’s pampering sessions and an afternoon tea.

The base is open each day for people who want to visit.