Horticulture is part of Hesketh Bank's past, present and future

PUBLISHED: 18:37 04 February 2013 | UPDATED: 22:41 20 February 2013

Simply red....Duncan Taylor and son, Stuart, with some of the 25,000 Poinsettias under glass at their Arden Lea Nurseries in Moss Lane

Simply red....Duncan Taylor and son, Stuart, with some of the 25,000 Poinsettias under glass at their Arden Lea Nurseries in Moss Lane

Horticulture is part of Hesketh Bank's past, present and future as Emma Mayoh discovered Photos by John Cocks

It is already summer in Hesketh Bank. As you look out of your window on possibly yet another dull February day, this may be difficult to believe. But at Arden Lea Nurseries in Moss Lane, it has been summer for weeks.

The 40-strong team at the successful plant nursery has been busy reparing thousands of summer blooms in wonderfully hot greenhouses for us all to enjoy later this year. Together, they grow everything from bedding plants and hyacinths to primroses and poinsettias.

Arden Lea Nurseries has been a family business since it was established by John Taylor in 1949. He had returned from serving on the HMS Fleetwood keen to make a living. He grew a wide range of flowers to vegetables on his one acre of land to sell at markets in Lancashire.

Son Duncan then joined the business and introduced lettuce and tomatoes to the business. But around 20 years ago, as competition from European suppliers got more and more competitive, the business nearly went bust. It was Booths, who agreed to start selling bedding plants from Arden Lea, that saved the day.

Duncans son, Stuart, who today runs the business with his dad and brother, Nick, said: They were a lifeline and we would have gone under without them.

They were serious times. Hesketh Bank is still known for its excellent agriculture but 20 years ago there were so many more. Competition put many of them out of business.

We are lucky that we have such fantastic soil here which has kept the
villages long agricultural history going. We are still known for it here and we are very proud to be a part of that.

Today, Arden Lea Nurseries produce hundreds of thousands of plants a year from 11 acres of land across several sites.

Between April and July last year more than 250,000 were sent out from the Hesketh Bank company. The bulk goes to national stores like B&Q as well as Booths and independent garden centres

They also grow hundreds of poinsettias every year which, it turns out, are not just for Christmas. Take care of the plant properly and it will last you well into March. Stuart has also already ordered the seeds for this Christmas crop.

The former IT teacher, who returned to the family business eight years ago when he and wife Rebecca had children Ben and Jess, said: Poinsettias are something that we put a lot of work into. This time of year is particularly intense sorting out all of the hardy plants, then
the summer bedding and thinking about next Christmas with the poinsettias. But we enjoy it a lot.

We love being a part of village life and contributing to the community. Hesketh Bank is a fantastic place and it is important to us that we help the people who work for us have a great life here.

Agriculture, farming and growing is at the heart of the Hesketh Bank
community and Duncan, Stuart and Nick are one of several businesses flying the flag for the areas skills. Despite its modest size, the village is surrounded with an abundance of people dedicated to agricultural industry.

Everyone from small-scale strawberry growers to tomato companies who
produce vast quantities from the land around the village play their part. There is also the thriving Hesketh Bank Allotments. The site, which has more than 60 plots, is known locally as the Poor Marsh. It is not known whether this refers to the condition of the soil or the finances of the people who once used it.

On the edge of the village, too, is Hawthornes Nursery, run by Richard
and Irene Hodson. They nurture their national collection of viticella clematis plants and during the summer youll find several coach loads turning up on their doorstep for the opportunity to see their dazzling displays of flowers.

The areas growing prowess is celebrated at Hesketh with Becconsall All Saints CE Primary School. Over the past few years initiatives have been put in place to tie in with the villages agricultural heritage. This has included the installation of a willow structure with storytelling area, as well as raised beds to grow vegetables. The school also has its own gardening club.

Lawrence Smye-Rumsby, headteacher, said: Hesketh Bank is an area that grows thousands and thousands of things and we wanted to reflect that in our school.

We need children to be realistic about what they can grow and know how
things end up in the supermarket. They also visit farms so they can see first hand what is being done in the area and they can understand more about their food.

Coming from such a strong growing area, this is particularly important.
But villagers talents do not solely lie in the areas fields. This active
community is abundant with local groups and societies including the
Hesketh Bank Silver Band.

This thriving group has been playing since 1895. It was set up as a temperance band and the instruments were bought for just 4 from nearby Banks.

The band was dissolved during the 1950s as many of its members were
called up for National Service but a decade later they were up and running

The band have performed at concerts, walking days, village fetes and charity events in the local area as well as at prestigious venues including Londons Royal Albert Hall.

There are also local friends groups, who dedicate their time to looking after local landmarks, a busy community centre, the West Lancashire Light Railway and a popular village show.

Councillor Paul Sergeant, chairman of Hesketh with Becconsall Parish Council, is born and bred in the village.

The 55-year-old said: Hesketh Bank is a fantastic community with a lot going for it. Developments like Booths, the new sports complex, the renaming of the village hall to a community centre and the development of the old Becconsall Hotel.

There has been a lot of change and development in the time I have lived here but it has still kept that lovely village feel. Its a great place to live.

Worth the journey

Where is it? Hesketh Bank is located in West Lancashire, near to Tarleton. Type PR4 6SN in
your sat nav to get you there.

Where can I park?
There is on street parking in Hesketh Bank as well as at the Booths supermarket in Station Road.

What can I do? Take a walk down Becconsall Lane. Here you can take a peek at
a working boatyard and also at Becconsall Old Church. The church was hit by shrapnel from
stray bombs during the Second World War.

The blasts also caused damage to nearby houses. You can also browse the local shops,
grab a bite to eat in one of the local cafes or restaurants or see whats on offer at one of
the many nursery outlets.

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