When I talk to the more senior residents of the area it’s really surprising, how many people remember our nursery and the history of this area.
The current site has certainly changed in appearance over the last 90 years.
The first nursery here specialised in growing ferns, over the years the ownership passed on to the Moore family who developed the business into a flourishing tomato nursery.
Around the time of the Second World War, the area was covered by over 8 acres of glass, and the company employed a staff of between 20 to 30 people, most of whom lived in cottages in nearby Bretby Lane. Records show that the Bretby Nursery was extremely successful, supplying the whole country and growing predominantly the Ailsa Craig variety of tomato.
The greenhouses were heated by hot water, with a couple of staff responsible for maintaining the heat from the large boiler, by feeding it coal from the local colliery.
With the increase of cheap, imported tomatoes, the Bretby site went in to decline, and the last tomato was grown here about 25 years ago.
Rebuilding for the future
Around 1985/6 David Cartwright purchased what can only be described as a derelict site, with only 2 greenhouses, one for growing and one used as a retail shop. Since then Bretby has seen major changes and developments, including a large retail area, a much improved and extended plant area and the introduction of the popular restaurant.
In November 2005, I purchased Bretby. I already owned Planters of Tamworth and wanted to turn Bretby into a thriving business too and I could see Bretby as a real jewel in the crown.
The Bretby philosophy to provide top quality plants is something we will maintain as we develop other aspects of the business and of course we will continue to offer our loyal Bretby customers a personal, friendly and knowledgeable service.
Bretby is in safe hands now and despite the current economic uncertainties, the future looks good. By the way, if you want to start growing your own tomatoes, we have everything you’ll need to get you on your way… who knows where it may lead!
Gerald and Christine Ingram
Did you know?
Bretby means ‘dwelling place of Britons’ and was mentioned in the Domesday book. The remains of Bretby castle lie in Castle field. The castle was demolished during the reign of James 1st in the 1640’s, the gardens (created by the 2nd Earl of Chesterfield) were said to rival those of Versailles. Bretby Hall was built on the site of the castle, once owned by Lord Carnavon he sold it in the 1920’s to finance his expedition to find Tutankhamun’s tomb. Near the village green, a set of ancient stocks is passed on the way to St Wystans Church where a plaque commemorating Benjamin Disraeli’s frequent visits to the Chesterfields is displayed.