A successful entrepreneur has realised his childhood dream of creating a walled rose garden at a cost of £1.5m.
Sir John Hall, 82, of Wynyard Hall, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, has completed his vision of creating his very own garden of roses.
It has its own tea room, seating area, and grand marquee, and has also boosted the area’s job figures with the employment of 50 people.
Multi-millionaire Sir John said the creation goes back 68 years to when he was a working-class 14-year-old growing up in a pit village near Ashington, in Northumberland.
The seed was planted when his father gave him a little area of their garden and he decided to try to grow some roses.
He said: “I loved the shape of the rose and I thought they had a beautiful smell.
I’m very proud. I never thought, when I was a young lad, that I would be able to do this.Sir John Hall, Wynyard Hall
“I bought some roses with some money I’d earned doing things. I started to graft them and grow new roses.
“I was never successful, I was just a young kid with a dream.
“A lot of the people who lived in our street and our village were great amateur horticulturalists, but they never got any recognition.”
He continued: “I bought this place (Wynyard Hall), but I never lost the dream of the roses.
“We are just custodians of these buildings and I wanted to do something for future generations.
“I got the Sedgefield Historic Society to write a book called The Story of a Great House on Wynyard Hall, and during research for that we found the original sketches for the walled garden, which had roses in.
“I felt really passionate about it, and I brought in designers to do it.”
Unfortunately, as the wheels started turning on the project five years ago, Sir John developed prostate cancer, which took him two years to overcome.
But with the help of his daughter Allison Antonopoulos, who took over the scheme, his dream became a reality.
“Allison has realised my dream for me, my last legacy,” he said.
“I’m very proud. I never thought, when I was a young lad, that I would be able to do this.”
The rose garden cost £1.5m to create. The total cost of the garden, the marquee, the tea rooms and the country school was in the region of £5m.
Sir John said he expects to generate around £100,000 from the garden in the next three to four years.
He added: “I’m hoping we can bring people in from outside the area. If you’ve got something to sell, you’ve got to tell the world.
“I’m happy to help regenerate the North East and give the people of the area something that they can be proud of as well.”
The sell-out grand opening of the garden is being held on August 4, but members of the public can visit from August 5, with a cost of £5 to enter the garden for adults, and £2 for children.