Bananas grown in Wickford

1961

About 20 'hands' of ripe bananas were grown in Wickford in 1961.

The man responsible for the achievement was Mr John Bilewycz, Nursery Manager at Garden Beauty Products Nursery in London Road.

Photo:John Bilewycz with the ripening fruits

John Bilewycz with the ripening fruits

From the private collection of Mrs D Bilewycz

John, a Ukrainian, came to this country in 1947, and began work as a labourer at Garden Beauty Products. He was the son of a Ukrainian farmer, who had studied at agricultural college in his own country. His expert knowledge lead to promotion within the firm to Nursery Manager.

The Managing Director of Garden Beauty Products Nursery, Mr Ronald Mayes described John as one of the finest growers in this country, whose advice and opinions are often sought by other leading growers.

Photo:John Bilewycz and the banana tree

John Bilewycz and the banana tree

From the private collection of Mrs D Bilewycz

The banana tree was imported from the Canary Island about three years before and bore its first fruit in 1961.

Photo:The banana trees in the Garden Beauty Products greenhouses

The banana trees in the Garden Beauty Products greenhouses

From the private collection of Mrs D Bilewycz

At the time there were nearly two acres of glasshouses at Garden Beauty Products Nursery with a staff of 15 people rearing about 200,000 plants each year.

Photo:The Garden Beauty Products glasshouses

The Garden Beauty Products glasshouses

From the private collection of Mrs D Bilewycz

Photo:The banana tree flowers and growing fruit

The banana tree flowers and growing fruit

From the private collection of Mrs D Bilewycz

Source: Wickford Times, Wednesday July 26th 1961

This page was added by Rosemary Lee on 18/02/2012.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Bananas! During my early childhood in the war (1940s) my mother would describe them. When finally the war finished the Wickford greengrocer showed me one and I was disgusted at how small it was. I cried out, "But it is so tiny, I thought they would be as big as the marrows mum grows in the garden".  

By Lorraine Taylor
On 16/03/2015

Garden Beauty Products had a shop in the High Street, next to the old saddlers, under the bridge going towards Market Road, in the late 1940s. It was a part of the Mayes family of which Wickford was famed,

By bobcroot
On 02/01/2016
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