OVERGROWN gardens lost for nearly 100 years are slowly being returned to their former Victorian glory.

The terraces behind Dalton Grange, overlooking Bradley Mills, Huddersfield, will soon explode with spring colour, as they did in their heyday in the late 1800s.

The eight-bedroom Grange, built in 1870 by mill tycoon Henry Brooke, had its own stables, a glasshouse and fully-irrigated grounds staffed by a number of gardeners.

The three-acre site included the front gardens lining the drive, a wood below the house and the rear terraces measuring about an acre.

But misfortune befell the family and by 1916 the mansion had been sold to the British Dyes company.

From that moment on, until only a few years ago, the once imposing garden was left to run virtually wild.

Later this month, on Sunday, April 25, an open garden event for Kirkwood Hospice will, for the first time, give visitors the chance to explore the grounds and see them as they may once have looked in Henry Brooke's day.

Gardener Helen Tinham started working at the Grange four years ago, appointed simply to keep the undergrowth in check.

Then, in February 2003, Don Wilkinson took over the Grange - now a popular function venue.

With heavy diggers and cutting equipment, the pair set about clearing the gardens to return them to their full glory.

"It's a woodland garden of a shrubbery type which the Victorians would be very keen on.

"They liked their grottoes and things like that," said Helen, who has spent months in back-breaking work and hours poring over books to return the garden to its authentic Victorian look.

"It was unbelievable," said Don. "We had bonfires that were 30ft high. Once you start you can't stop, but it was absolutely great. It started looking better and better. And every spring it looks better than the last."

Spring, summer and autumn flowers have now all been planted. Some trees were felled while others have been left to flourish.

Six tonnes of wood chippings have been laid down on 200 yards of pathways. Walls have been built, terraces dug out and benches installed.

Old plants left to grow riotously over the decades gave clues for Helen to work from as she built up a plan of how the gardens once looked.

"I'd like to come back when I'm about 85. I bet it looks great!" said Helen.

"A few years from now it should knit together like a tapestry."

Don hopes the gardens will provide a more fitting backdrop for wedding parties using the Grange throughout the summer. He has a 10-year business plan for the venue which includes intensive upkeep of the stunning gardens.

"People will go out and go for a walk along the gardens. It's nice for them to be able to do that," Helen said.