Monday, 30 November 2020

Ex-mayor appeals for return of floral train

A FORMER Mayor of Henley has appealed to Henley in Bloom not to give away a floral ornament.

A FORMER Mayor of Henley has appealed to Henley in Bloom not to give away a floral ornament.

Elizabeth Hodgkin, of Nicholas Road, wants to see the floral engine reinstalled at Station Park.

Last month it was mooted at a Henley in Bloom meeting that the train could be given away as it has been in storage since last year.

Mrs Hodgkin, who runs community gardening group the Gardening Buddies, said the group would still be more than happy to plant the train.

She said: “We’re happy to plant it again. I got Henley Lions to help plant it last time and it’s not an onerous task. It takes about six hours to do 4,000 little plants.”

Mrs Hodgkin was involved in bringing the train to the town from Barnstaple where it was displayed as part of its “in bloom” group. It was first hired from them in 2006 and 2007 and displayed at Station Park as part of the celebration of 150 years of the Henley railway.

“There were never problems with it before,” said Mrs Hodgkin. “It looked wonderful and the plants did well. When it first went there it had a massive impact. Britain in Bloom said it was something quite special.”

The engine was returned to Barnstaple after two years but in 2013 it was given to Henley as their bloom group had disbanded and it was refurbished and reinstalled at Station Park before it was put into storage a year later.

At a meeting last month town councillor Kellie Hinton said the feedback from judging of previous Royal Horticultural Society competitions had recommended not stopping at the engine.

“It costs more than £1,000 a year to plant,” she said. “The Gardening Buddies plant lots of beds but this is especially difficult and in previous years it has not lasted. People do have their photo taken with it but others say it looks shoddy and we’re better off not having it at all.”

Mrs Hodgkin would like to see it returned because it “lifts the area” when it’s there, adding that Great Western Railway, which is also the name on the train, would be a perfect sponsor for any restoration work.

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