A landscaping company was started in 1959 by Henry Shannon who saw the need for a company that provided good service and good standards of work. It was a hard life in those days as there were no machines to dig, load or move materials around as there are today. No mobile phones either!
The company, as others were, was extremely reliant on its workforce and Henry was fortunate to find the best. Not long over from Ireland, he found many of his own relations along with others were best suited to the work as they all had farming backgrounds. This paid off and many of the employers stayed with the company for over 20 years or more. The work then and through the 1960s, 70s and 80s were generated by the Greater London Council, the Inner London Education Authority and the various local councils throughout the London area.
The demise of the GLC and the ILEA, along with the cutbacks in spending that affected all councils in the 1980s, meant that the same number of firms were chasing fewer and fewer contracts. Henry realised that this could not continue and looked for alternative business opportunities.
Henry had always wanted to have his own garden centre and in 1988, an opportunity arose to purchase some land in Forest Hill, London, very close to the company’s existing offices. This seemed like a good time to diversify, the land was purchased, and he set about building the garden centre.
As always, Henry Shannon had his own ideas and ways of working. He would always say that if you are going to do something then it is best done to the highest possible standards the first time. He used his own workforce along with the trusted sub-contractors that had worked with him over the years and he oversaw the whole project from start to finish. The results of which can be seen today – a good-looking, modern building which has stood the test of time.
The garden centre opened in 1989 and the first few years were a struggle as the whole country fought to get out of the recession that was with us then. But the perseverance, determination and hard work that had started the company originally showed again and business started to improve.
In 2012, we received the Mayor of Lewisham’s Business Award for Best Customer Service and today, the centre is still growing. We have a good reputation and a core of regular customers with new ones finding us each week. It has taken a few years, but the centre now has a vast selection of goods in stock and long-standing relationships with our able suppliers.
The garden centre is now run by Henry’s children alongside some trusted staff; and Jacob, the black cat often asleep in the shop, actually lives locally and comes daily to visit us.
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