Cardiff Parks and the Pettigrew Family

The development of Cardiff's parks owes much to one family, Andrew Pettigrew and his three sons, William, Hugh and Andrew. Many of the parks features preserved in the postcard views were created by the Pettigrews.

The Pettigrew Family 1900


This photograph taken in 1900 shows Andrew Pettigrew with his three sons, probably in the garden of the family home at Castle Gardens. Left to right, Andrew Alexander Pettigrew, William Wallace Pettigrew, Andrew Pettigrew, Hugh Allan Pettigrew.

Andrew Pettigrew (1833-1903) was Head Gardener to the Third Marquis of Bute. He took up this position in 1867, initially based at the Bute residence in Ayreshire, Dumfries House. In 1873 Lord Bute moved him to Cardiff to develop the grounds of Cardiff Castle as a private ornamental pleasure ground. There Pettigrew was responsible for planting many varieties of trees and shrubs, as well as for the creation of extensive walks. After the Fourth Marquis gave the Castle to the City of Cardiff in 1947, this pleasure ground was opened to the public as Bute Park.

Sophia Gardens and Pontcanna Fields were also part of the Bute Estate in Andrew Pettigrew's day. He was responsible for creating the bowling green at Sophia Gardens in the winter of 1877-78 and he acted as treasurer of the Cardiff Bowling Club which was formed to play there.[1][2] The present-day bowling green in Sophia Gardens is in exactly the same location.

In Pontcanna Fields the avenue of lime and elm trees running from north to south for the entire length of the park was planted in the winter of 1879-80 by Andrew Pettigrew. In the same winter he supervised the planting of another avenue of trees (Elms) in Cathays Park. The Civic Centre was later built around this line of trees, the Marquis of Bute having stipulated that it be preserved when he sold Cathays Park to the Cardiff Corporation. A.A. Pettigrew wrote that " in 1898 or 1899, on the occasion of his last visit to Cardiff, - shortly after the sale to the Corp, had been effected, - the (third) marquis, with my father, who had been in charge of the planting of the trees, strolled together through the grounds, and so into Cathays Park. Pausing in the avenue, & with a wave of his hand along the rows of trees, his Lordship remarked:-“There, Pettigrew, there’s something that will stand as our monument, your and mine for many generations after we have departed”.[3]

In 1891 and 1901 the Pettigrew family was living at Castle Gardens, North Road,[4][5] which was probably on the Greyfriars site.

William Wallace Pettigrew 1891

William Wallace Pettigrew (1867-1947) was the eldest son of Andrew and his wife Agnes McLelland Allan. When aged 16 he was an apprentice gardener to his father at Cardiff Castle, and he also trained at Kew Gardens.[6] In 1891 he was appointed as Head Gardener of the public parks and open spaces of Cardiff,[7] and in 1896 the Parks Committee decided that he be "Superintendent of the Public Parks and Open Spaces" reporting directly to the Committee.[8] Pettigrew held this position for more than 23 years and with his wife Ruth McConochie, whom he married in 1894, he lived at Roath Park House, the residence of the Parks Superintendent. Among his achievements was the establishment of the Roath Park Fish Hatchery, which he described in a paper for the Cardiff Naturalists' Society.[9] He also wrote the official Guide to Roath Park and Catalogue of Plants in Botanical Garden, which was published for the Cardiff Corporation by the Western Mail in 1905. Some of Pettigrew's monthly reports to the Parks Committee have survived in a handwritten book covering the period January 1908 to October 1912.[10]

When Pettigrew resigned in 1915 in order to take up the position of Head Gardener to the Manchester Corporation, the Parks Committee recorded its "appreciation of the conscientious, faithful and efficient manner in which he has at all times during a period of 23½ years, discharged, with complete satisfaction to this Committee and the Council, the important duties appertaining to this Office. Whilst regretting to be deprived of the valuable services of so capable an officer, this Committee desire cordially to congratulate him on his important and well-merited appointment at Manchester and to tender to Mr Pettigrew their sincere and hearty good wishes for his future success in his new position."[11]

William Pettigrew's career at Manchester was equally distinguished. He took a leading role in the creation of the Institute of Park and Recreation Administration, and held the eminent post of President of the Institute between 1926 and 1929.[12] In 1926 he was awarded the prestigious Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH) by the Royal Horticultural Society. When he retired in 1932 he and Ruth moved to Eastbourne. In retirement he wrote a definitive textbook on park management,[13] dedicated to the memory of his brother Andrew. He and Ruth both died in Eastbourne in early 1947. An obituary published in the Journal of Park Administration, Horticulture and Recreation (reprinted in the Kew Guild Journal) stated that whilst at Cardiff Pettigrew was the first Superintendent to write a series of articles for the Gardeners' Chronicle on the management of public parks.[14]

This photograph of William Wallace Pettigrew was taken in 1891, the year he became Cardiff's Head Gardener.

Hugh Allan Pettigrew c.1930


Hugh Allan Pettigrew (1871-1947) also began his career working for his father at Cardiff Castle, and he went on to train at Kew Gardens.[15]

In 1900 he became Head Gardener to the Earl of Plymouth at St Fagan's Castle to the west of Cardiff. In 1901 he was living at the Castle gardens, St. Fagan's.[16] The Castle is now the Welsh Folk Museum, part of the National Museum of Wales, and its gardens still reflect the work of Hugh Pettigrew. Among the developments at St Fagan's during Hugh's time were a new terraced garden extending into former parkland, and three special layouts within the existing garden - the Rose Garden, Thyme Garden and Italian Garden.[17] He retired from St Fagan's in 1935 and he and his wife Alice, whom he married in 1903, went to live at Nice in the south of France, where he died in 1947.

An obituary written by W. Nelmes for the Kew Guild Journal described Hugh Pettigrew as "exceptionally skilled in gardening and forestry". Nelmes also observed that the eldest brother, W.W. Pettigrew was "perhaps in his day the ablest and best known Parks Superintendent in the country".[18]

This photograph shows Hugh Allan Pettigrew in the grounds of St Fagans Castle in about 1930.

William Alexandra Pettigrew C.1930


Andrew Alexander Pettigrew (1875-1936) was the youngest son of Andrew and Agnes Pettigrew, and like his brothers he served an apprenticeship with his father in the gardens of Cardiff Castle.[19] He was appointed Chief Officer of the Parks and Open Spaces of Cardiff in 1915, a post which he held with great distinction for 21 years until his early death. He wrote The Public Parks and Recreation Grounds of Cardiff, an unpublished account of the history of Cardiff's parks, which was meticulously researched and remains the prime authority for the early development of the City's parks and open spaces. His expertise lead to a request from the Penarth Council to inspect the bowling green at Belle Vue Park in Penarth, the condition of which had attracted criticism from local players. Pettigrew, accompanied by his brother Hugh, visited Belle Vue and gave advice which resulted in a satisfactory conclusion.[20]

A.A Pettigrew died on July 20th 1936 and was buried in Cathays Cemetery. When his death was reported to the Parks Committee, the members expressed "their deep appreciation of his upright and amicable character, which rendered relations with this Committee always of the most cordial nature, of the energetic, capable and loyal manner in which he served them for so long, and of the work by which, following the tradition of his brother before him, he beautified the City of Cardiff, in whose Parks his handiwork will for long endure.".[21] The Committee also accepted an offer from W. W. Pettigrew to carry out his brother's duties without remuneration until the appointment of a new Chief Officer. In an obituary in the Kew Guild Journal it was said that "One of his greatest achievements has been the development of Roath Park, where he gathered together a very fine collection of plants, trees and shrubs and planted these skilfully and artistically."[22]

In September 1936, the Committee agreed to appoint William Nelmes, age 34, of Bellvue Park, Newport, as Chief Officer of Parks and Open Spaces.[23] Nelmes had worked under A.A. Pettigrew between 1928 and 1934, responsible for the botanical collection in Roath Park.[24]

Photographs by kind permission Tim Pettigrew www.pettigrews.org.uk/

Sources of Information

  1. A.A. Pettigrew The Public Parks and Recreation Grounds of Cardiff. Volume 1, chapter on Sophia Gardens
  2. Western Mail 6th June 1878 page 3
  3. A.A. Pettigrew The Public Parks and Recreation Grounds of Cardiff. Volume 2, chapter on Street Trees
  4. Daniel Owen & Co Cardiff Directory 1891 page 195 via University of Leicester Special Collections Online
  5. Cardiff Directory 1901 page 240, published Western Mail via University of Leicester Special Collections Online
  6. Pettigrew Family History, Ephemera & Photographs: William Wallace Pettigrew
  7. Special Meeting of the Parks, Open Spaces, Footpaths and Allotments Committee 31st July 1891
  8. Meeting of the Parks, Open Spaces etc. Committee 6th January 1896
  9. W.W. Pettigrew, Notes on the hatchery and fish hatching at Roath Park, Cardiff Naturalists' Society XXXIV (1901-02), page 55
  10. Cardiff Parks Superintendent's Report Bookpdf(pdf) A handwritten book covering the period January 1908 to October 1912 inclusive, currently in the care of the Cardiff Council's Parks Service.
  11. Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 4th February 1915
  12. Cine film: Parks, People and Recreation. Institute of Park and Recreation Administration, c.1977
  13. W.W. Pettigrew, Municipal Parks: Layout, Management and Administration. London, 1937
  14. Kew Guild Journal. In Memorium page 593-4: W.W. Pettigrew
  15. Pettigrew Family History, Ephemera & Photographs: Hugh Allan Pettigrew
  16. Cardiff Directory 1901 page 594, published Western Mail via University of Leicester Special Collections Online
  17. National Monuments Record for Wales (NMRW) - St Fagan's Castle
  18. Kew Guild Journal. In Memorium page 591: Captain Hugh A Pettigrew
  19. Pettigrew Family History, Ephemera & Photographs: Andrew Alexander Pettigrew
  20. Meeting of the Penarth Urban District Council Parks Committee 22nd November 1926 & Penarth News 25th November 1926
  21. Meeting of the Parks, Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 24th July 1936
  22. Kew Guild Journal. In Memorium pages 697-8: Andrew Alexander Pettigrew
  23. Parks, Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 3rd September 1936
  24. Kew Guild Journal. W. Nelmes: President 1977-78