Exploring Walter's Greenhouse at Mr Straw's House
At the end of the garden at Endcliffe Villa was the Straw Family Greenhouse. William and Walter Straw shared the greenhouse with William tending his auricular collection and Walter his cacti.
William Straw Jnr. was heavily involved in the construction of the greenhouse too. His diary from March 1935 tells of the effort involved in creating the foundations for the greenhouse. In March 1935 William was still living in London, but regularly returned home to Worksop at weekends, no doubt it was on one of these visits he helped create the foundations.
Walter Straw had the most amazing collection of cacti and succlents hidden at the bottom of the garden in the most usual of greenhouses. From varieties of Echinocactus to Pachyphytum, and Epiphyllum, Walter was an avid collector. Many of the Cacti still residing in our greenhouse have been propagated from those left by Walter and some only flower once a year. If you are lucky you may get to see some in bloom this season.
In May 1940 Walter wrote in a newspaper that he had over 300 cacti plants and "innumerable seedlings". It was in this same article that he wrote about keeping the cacti above a minimum of 40 degrees fahrenheit. The greenhouse was heated by a coke stove and water pipes that wrapped around one side and one end, with a chimney through the roof.
Walter also kept detailed records of his cacti and succulent collection, including catalogues and order forms for importing them from "Viveros De Cactaceas Ferdinand Schmoll, Exportador e Importador, Mexico. Many of these catalogues, receipts and documentation remain here at Mr Straw's House.
Over the years the brothers looked after their greenhouse, replacing glass panels for the roof from E.C Walton & Co Ltd, from Sutton on Trent in 1970. We still have the original receipt for the work commissioned by Walter. After Walters death the cacti were given away, but many have since been returned and the plants in the greenhouse now, many have been propogated from these originals.
However in the late 1970's/ early 1980's the greenhouse was destroyed during a storm. When the National Trust acquired Mr Straw's House all that was left was the outline of the greenhouse. In 1995 the greenhouse was rebuilt to the pictures and specifications in the diaries and archive. The National Trust continues to maintain the greenhouse, with further repaints and repairs completed over the years, the last coat of paint was put on the greenhouse in 2015.