The November Meeting 2017
SQUIRE’S GARDEN CENTRES
by Sarah Squire, Deputy Chairman
Colin Squire, the Chairman of Squire’s Garden Centres was unable to be with us. He is a member of Twickenham Rotary which, like Probus, has its base at Fulwell Golf Club neighbour to the Twickenham centre.
Sarah is his daughter and proved a very able deputy. Her grandfather, David John Squire, known to all as DJ, was the originator of the Company, he started his working life as a gardener and groundsman and was a keen amateur runner. He founded the company in 1936 having been made redundant from his job as Head Gardener at the Police Orphanage in Teddington. The company developed into a landscape and nursery business, building a number of air raid shelters during World War Two and turning the nurseries over to food production with the assistance of land girls and prisoners of war.
D.J and team in the 1950s
After the war the landscaping side of the business flourished. Many stone walls and other features constructed by Squire’s during the period can still be seen today.
In 1964 Colin opened Squire’s first garden centre at Sixth Cross Road Twickenham, the site it still occupies today. It had previously been Poupart’s Farm but by 1964 it was in a seriously dilapidated condition and much effort was expended before Squire’s Garden Centre was able to open to the public.
Garden centres were a fairly new phenomena in the UK in the 1960s. The population, in general, was enjoying fuller employment opportunities and car ownership was more prevalent making Garden Centres far more accessible. In addition nurserymen started growing many more plants in pots rather than the open fields.
Well-known songwriter Conrad Leonard could be found on Thursday lunchtimes playing the piano in the Garden Centre’s Café well into his 100s.
Colin expanded the business and acquired other garden centres. Today the company operates 15 garden centres in Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex and Berkshire. The Company celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2016 and has come a long way since the start of DJ’s major adventure. It now employs 246 full-time staff and 490 part-timers.
Colin with his late wife Janet and D.J. who died in 2003 at the age of 97
Colin was awarded the Pearson Memorial Gold Medal in 2015, a distinction that has been awarded annually since 1930 for outstanding service to the gardening industry. Alan Titchmarsh was a previous winner in 2012. He has witnessed many changes within his time in the industry and has often been at the forefront of new developments in the UK.
Sales tend to follow the seasons and extend beyond the comprehensive range of horticulture items and associated tools. 43% of sales are achieved at week-ends and visitor numbers are certainly enhanced by the welcome provision of food and drinks provided by the well-presented restaurants
Squire’s Garden Centres endeavour to promote the family ethos to its customers and happily involve themselves with activities in their local communities.
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