We had a good Gardening Club, quite a few members, also we had a shop which the Company gave us two garages free of charge to use as the shop. We used to sell stuff at very low cost to members of the Club. To be a member when we first started it was 2/-, then obviously prices when up and I think it went up eventually to 5/- per year, which was good and members still gained a terrific amount over it.
We used to have a meeting each month in the Village Hall – very good meetings, when we first started we go as man as 25 to 30 people.
Did you have shows?
Yes we used to have shows – very successful shows, obviously when you do a flower or horticultural show it’s obvious we were going to loose money over it, so the little bit of profit we made from the shop was used to cover this deficit.
Outside of the Gardening Club, I used to show flowers in Thurrock, I have been to Kent to show, I have been as far as Yarmouth and Norwich to show flowers and won medals.
What is your favourite flower?
My favourite flower in those days was the Dahlia – I showed mainly dahlias and some Chrysanthemums. I tried to encourage others into it by using the Village Hall to put a flower show on. This encouraged a lot of people. We had everything – cake making for the ladies and the shows were very successful. After living here for 46 years it needed something and we were encouraged by the Company to do these sort of things.
Did you ever win the Garden Competition?
I couldn’t win the Garden Competition because I used to judge it. I was awarded on merit for my garden because the other two judges, who were with me, said that I should definitely get a prize and I refused it as obviously I was judging and I had to refuse it. I couldn’t turn round and win.
I enjoyed doing it and the Company used to pay me to do it. Two or three times a year we used to walk round the Estate unbeknown to people living on the Estate, perhaps of an evening, I would walk round on my own and see a nice garden and I would think to myself “What’s the number of that house?” and I would make a note of this and then maybe three months later I would walk round with the Housing Manager of those days, Mr. Forrest, and he would turn round and ask which were the houses I thought were good. I would show him my list and we would look at those houses and he would agree that the standard was really good, but we could.
There used to be up on the main road a competition between 2 people, Mr Reeves and , I can’t think of the other man’s name, but he lived next door to Mr Reeves, and these were always difficult to judge as 1st and 2nd. Their gardens were absolutely perfect, and I think Mr Reeves maybe took 1st prize because his garden was exceptionally good. We had another man on the front road who was also very good, a Mr Smith, who had a very nice garden.
Most of the gardens were reasonably good, we never had a real bad garden, we had a couple in Queen Elizabeth who never came up to standard but they always got a letter from the Company about that. The Company used to keep an eye on the gardens.