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English Salvage buys a Hereford garden centre

Posted on | By Thornton Kay
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Hereford & Worcs, UK - While the rest of Britain wrings its hands in apparent commercial uncertainty, Rupert and Pru Woods of English Salvage Ltd have plunged with alacrity, and some apprehensiveness, into the purchase of the eight acre former Wyevale Garden Centre site at Wellington on the A49 outside Hereford.

Rupert could not explain what drove them to take on the challenge, but said that so long as they can keep looking at it as a challenge and not a burden, he would be happy! They aim to transform what was a rather sad and samey garden centre into a unique place that people would like to spend some time and hopefully money too. The plan is to keep on, improve and expand the cafe, keep the plants and associated gardening requisites, but completely transform the rest so we will be selling a mixture of antiques and salvage, and unusual hand-made or locally sourced items. Son Barney fancies that he will organise mini food festivals and other events, once the weather changes. They do not lack for ideas.

English Salvage Ltd is a family-run business, Salvo Code supporter, formerly until 2014 named Leominster Reclamation, and since the relaunch of its website and a public relations push, an increasingly highly regarded reclamation business.

A note about Wyevale Garden Centres
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Hereford has a strong pedigree in innovating garden centres dating back, at least, to the 1790s when James Cranston first started trading in plants, trees and seeds from nurseries at King’s Acre. His kitchen garden and flower seeds included some ‘particularly fine mignonettes’. He advertised his services of land measurement, mapping and pleasure grounds laid out in the most modern style. Innovation number one was when he opened a shop, his first garden centre, in the Hereford high road.

James Cranston junior, the grandson, an architect in Birmingham, designed the Assembly Rooms in Hereford, Corn Exchange, Butter Market and Spa buildings in Tenbury Wells and in Nantwich, and the Town Hall and Markets in Leominster all of which were built in the 1850s. The Spa building reused reclaimed materials from the old mineral well at the Swan Inn, and a new Spa House and Pump Room using Cranston’s portable glass house system but replacing the panes with sheet iron. In 1862 he produced a catalogue for ‘Cranston’s Patent Buildings For Horticulture’ in which he illustrated one in use at probably his mother’s house in King’s Acre (see the pic). This was the same system which he had invented for the Spa House in Tenbury Wells, an amazing building, possibly the earliest extant, in the early British pleasure palace style: innovation number two.

In 1926 Harry Williamson bought several acres of the famed King’s Acre nurseries and by 1929 had branded his business as Kings Acre Nursery where he who pioneered the innovation of container-grown plants. In 1962 a trip to the US inspired him to create the first UK garden centre, innovation number three, which he named Wyevale, after the vale of the river Wye in which it was situated. More were established, mainly in southern England where his plants could be retailed, according to a 1981 edition of Accountancy, in a happy and friendly atmosphere operating on a cash and carry basis rather than a plant supermarket.

Eventually he established between 145 Wyevale Garden Centres, ranging from local horticultural centres to major leisure destination venues. The garden centres included 101 restaurants and cafes and 500 concessions with 190 partners. In 2012, the group was acquired by Terra Firma, a private equity firm, which decided to put the portfolio up for sale.

English Salvage Ltd

Story Type: News