THE race is on to raise £20,000 to save a historic walled garden in The Leasowes and preserve it for the people of Halesowen.

The Hales Owen Abbey Trust struck a deal with Birmingham Metropolitan College to buy the walled garden but has been given three months to complete the deal.

The Trust has teamed up with the Friends of Leasowes and Halesowen MP James Morris to appeal for donations so the garden can become an attraction in the town.

Mick Freer, honorary secretary of the trust, urged local people and businesses to donate towards the appeal.

He said: “The walled garden has been here for 240 years and yet most Halesowen people are unaware of this treasure in our midst.

“With the Friends of the Leasowes we intend to restore the ‘lost’ garden and open it to the public."

He added: "It will be dedicated to the public in perpetuity."

Mr Morris also hopes the fundraising campaign will result in the walled garden being saved for future generations.

He said: “Mick, the chairman of the friends Marianne Diller and everybody involved is working really hard to turn the garden into a fantastic asset for our community.

“I am delighted to support them and will be working with them to try to find more ways to raise the money to buy, restore and maintain the walled garden.”

Leasowes Park is of historical significance because of the landscaping carried out by poet William Shenstone from 1743 until his death in 1763. The walled garden was added in the 1770s to feed the family and servants of the next owner, Edward Horne.

Stourbridge College used the garden for its horticultural centre for learning disabilities until they abandoned the site 20 months ago in favour of Kidderminster.

In March governors from Birmingham Metropolitan College, which took over Stourbridge College last year, agreed to sell the 1.85 acre site to the trust.

Mr Freer subsequently announced he would bid for £500,000 Lottery funding to restore the garden back to its 18th Century glory.

He said: "This is one of the most exciting developments to hit Halesowen since the 1950s when Lapal Canal was restored."

Donations can be sent to Mick Freer at 59 The Hawnelands, Halesowen, B63 3RT and any cheques should be made payable to the Hales Owen Abbey Trust.