The Dartmouth Pyramid
Dartmouth Green Partnerships is working with South Hams District Council on the replacement of the Dartmouth Community Greenhouse with a new structure which we hope will become an attractive feature of Royal Avenue Gardens and a community asset. We will use it to raise plants for use in town displays, and it will also become a Centre for Horticultural Excellence for use by different groups of all ages, linking health and horticulture.
The site is that of the old depot. Phase one of the project has been completed by SHDC consisting of the base of what will be the pyramid community greenhouse. Fund raising is under way for the superstructure. In the meantime we have built a small temporary greenhouse on the site so that we can raise plants for the town’s displays economically.
The land in front of it will continue to be used by DGP including raised beds for our demonstration potager and cut flower beds, the olive bed, the poppy bed and the herb boat. The vine has been preserved outdoors, supported by a trellis along the hedge.
The old greenhouse had to be demolished in early 2013 as it was unsafe. For the past 10 years it had been used by Dartmouth in Bloom. We used a temporary greenhouse of scaffolding and plastic sheeting to raise lots of plants in 2013, and to store plants over the winter.
We planted up the town’s many hanging baskets with some help from local Brownies, and stored them in the greenhouse prior to placing them around the town.
The storms of 2013 and the cost of scaffolding meant that the temporary greenhouse had to be taken down. Since 2014 we have managed to plant baskets and troughs by storing plants in a nearby nursery. The Brownies help us plant them up each year.
The Dartmouth Greenhouse was built in 1905 on the riverfront as part of the original layout of Royal Avenue Gardens, shortly after the area known as the ‘Newground’ was reclaimed and turfed. It can be seen on the old postcard above, along the front to the right of the moored paddle steamer.
The development of the grounds continued with flower beds, tree planting and gas-illuminations. In 1911 the present cast iron bandstand was built, considered at the time to be the finest in the South West. When first built the greenhouse had ‘fancy glass’ to the front. The centre portion was used as a conservatory for exotic plants and was open to the public. At the north end was what was erected as a potting shed and tool house, also housing the stokehole for the coke boiler. This is in what is now part of the Council depot.
The Greenhouse was originally used to grow the plants for the Gardens and flowers for the Council offices etc. The seed order for 1915 was 14 shillings! This use of the greenhouse (plus the other more recent greenhouse, now demolished) continued until just a few years ago.