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A Potted History

Primrose Cottage Nursery was established on Ringway Road, Moss Nook, in 1934 by James Dumville. The name comes from the old cottage which still stands there. James, or Jim as he was known, fought in WWI and had to stay on in Germany for a couple of years after the war had ended. On his return he married Laura who, after serving at York barracks during WWI,  moved to the area from her home in West Hartlepool to take up a post as a doctor’s maid at Cheadle Royal hospital.

The nursery was one of many market gardens in Moss Nook and neighbouring Hey Head at that time, all taking advantage of the excellent soil, most of which is now sadly lost beneath the development of Manchester Airport.

Jim grew vegetables and flowers for cutting, and used to borrow a neighbour’s Shire horse to plough the fields.

Jim and Laura had three sons, Alan, Brian and Keith, and the younger two boys could not wait to leave school at 14 and work with their father on the nursery. Alan chose a different career, but was always on hand to help the family out if needed. Jim had suffered poor health as a result of his time in the trenches, and sadly passed away in 1958 aged just 65.

Laura continued to help her sons with the nursery and was still ‘pricking-out’ bedding plant seedlings and picking tomatoes well into her 80’s. Many people remember her selling them fruit and veg from the little shop in the back room of the cottage. She would never turn anyone away if they needed something out-of-hours.

Brian and Keith continued to grow vegetables, salad crops, cut flowers and bedding plants which they sold from the nursery, and to local shops. The brothers’ wives also worked at the nursery, Ann serving customers and Margery working with the plants.

Keith’s daughter, Caroline, was fascinated by growing plants from an early age and went on to study horticulture at Nottingham University. In 1987 she was awarded the Institute of Horticulture’s Aberconway Medal for her research into growing and marketing herbs, receiving the award from the late Lord Aberconway at Kew Gardens.

After graduating, Caroline joined Brian and Keith full-time at the nursery. She had a particular interest in extending the range of perennials, herbs and new and unusual bedding plants grown there. There was plenty of space and at one point, over 900 varieties of perennials and alpines were grown on site.

The nursery had already lost land to the airport rail link in the early 1990’s and the advent of the airport relief road meant that further land would be taken along with all passing trade as Ringway Road effectively became a cul-de-sac. Brian had recently retired and Keith and Caroline had the opportunity to take over another, smaller nursery in Styal village where they moved in 2017. Keith, by then in his 80’s, was sad to leave the place where he was born and had spent all his working life, but supported Caroline with the move and the task of completely clearing the new site and setting up the existing nursery.

Brian passed away in 2018 and Keith in 2022, but their legacy and that of their father Jim, lives on ♥

Below are some photos of the many happy decades at Ringway Road