THIS WEEK’S READING SUGGESTIONS

23 April, 2020

Here are some more books to consider if we are in this lockdown for the long run.  If not they’ll make great Christmas presents!

29 Angel 9780244803810.  A book by Barbara Tinsley and her father I devoured rapidly it faithfully portrays a 1930’s world that is rapidly slipping from our community memory.  In a charming if earthy style it is the story of young Stanley growing up in a Victorian terrace in Angel Walk Hammersmith.  The area was later truncated by the A4 fly-over.  It is a piece of powerful social history but also contains a story of a secret garden enjoyed by father and daughter.  There is a detective story to be solved.  Whose garden was it and why was it left neglected for decades?
A must read for anyone living in the area or students of social history and the very different lives of our grandparents and greatgrandparents era.
A snippet is online here.  It can be bought from Blackwells or Lulu.

Some more gems:

Fulham Past by Barbara Denny 9780948667435 lots of detail and photos
London’s Lost Rivers by Paul Talling 9781847945976 this includes several of our own.
How to Read London by Chris Rogers 9781782404521

More local books this time from Caroline MacMillan who will be familiar to the many who have taken her guided walks.  www.westlondonwalks.co.uk The vibrant modern photographs are interspersed with historical notes anchoring them to the past.  As well as the history of the area, each book contains two guided walks.

Wild about Fulham  9780993319310
Wild about Hammersmith  and Brook Green 9780957044777
Wild about Shepherd’s Bush and Askew Road  9780993319327

Again for those seeking fiction anchored in our area then try:

London by Edward Rutherford of Sarum fame 9780099551379
Capital Crimes Edited by Martin Edwards 9780712357494
The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz 9781784757236 opens on the Fulham Road!


WEST LONDON NURSERY GARDENS

14 April, 2020

Having taken the advice offered in the latest Newsletter to consider our publications I selected at random West London Nursery Gardens.  I must be frank up front I have little interest in gardening and tended to render what I touched brown!  This is especially true now we only have a balcony and my limited skills of mowing, digging and harvesting apples are no longer required!

I got stuck into this 163 pages plus illustrations volume and was pleasently surprised.  The names of flowers leapt out to prompt my memories of my Northern Grandfather banging on about his successes on the allotment.  In fact the book is as much a social history as a botanical one.  The histories start in the 1660s through to the start of the 20th century.  Information gleaned from rate books, directories, private papers and gardening magazines and catalogues has been used to set out not only the bare facts but a little about the owners of each enterprise.

These men, and sometimes their widows, created a new line of business initially centred on London and botanical trophies of the age of discovery.  A fashion for ornate gardens and unusual plants amongst the landed gentry fed the businesses.  This grew eventually to the classless hobby of many but by then nurseries were more widespread and the land in London was more valuable for housing.

These were often men of humble origin from all over the country gardeners to the rich who grasped an opportunity.  The work and fresh air clearly had its rewards as several lived into their 80’s and 90’s.  The opposite is also true – at least 2 careers were ruined by falls from horseback. In the 19th century more

West London Nursery Gardens

middleclass businessmen tried their hand in this world of plants often driven by an interst in botany or exploring for species to cultivate.

Families are also featured heavily with sons following fathers into the business or associated areas.  Many had 2 or more wives and very many children with many dying young.  Whilst I know my grandparents were from large families the levels of child mortality and deaths in childbirth have slipped beyond living memory.

It also relates much about the geography of our streets today as land was given up for building the pockets of land often recognisable.

This book is definitely worth a read; gardener or not!

John H

II – Post Script

Anyone thinking about reading this book or just curious will find this map from the excellent National Library of Scotland’s website very helpful.  Although later than most of the activity it does show many of the remaining nurseries surviving as development crept westwards.

It also shows the scattering of large houses amongst the market gardens that may feature in Keith’s talk post lockdown!