Frost garden centre site turns 70

Frosts Garden Centre in Woburn Sands, Buckinghamshire marks its 70th anniversary this month after opening as a nursery in 1946.

James Frost
James Frost

Harvey Frost, grandfather of current managing director James Frost, started the wholesale tomato and chrysanthemum nursery and in 1962, with the help of his sons Adrian and Brian, opened Frosts garden centre at Woburn Sands.

Brian Frost developed the garden centre while Adrian Frost developed the landscape side of the business - Frosts Landscape Construction, as Milton Keynes grew.

Frosts now has three other garden centres at Willington in Bedfordshire, Brampton in Cambridgeshire and Millets Farms in Oxfordshire. Willington opened in 1972 in partnership with Richard and Candida Godber, whose family has owned the site since the 1890s. In 1986, Frosts opened up the garden centre at Millets Farm and in 2001, Frosts opened the Brampton garden centre on the edge of Huntingdon.

Frosts recently spent £1.5m improving the garden centre roof and layout, and creating an outdoor furniture seasonal space and new separate coffee shop. The garden centre company now has 400 garden staff and turns over £18m.

James Frost said: "It was in 1974 just after decimalisation. I worked in the houseplants department alongside my grandmother who couldn’t work out the new money at all.

"I was just 10 years and stood to her right. She would pick up a plant, read out the price. I would add it all up and squeak the total back to her...I got 10p for my Saturday and Sunday work!"

It was James’ grandmother who had the foresight to snap up the business during the war, while her husband, Harvey, was fighting abroad: "She thought ‘If he does come back, I don’t want him going back to Lloyds. He came back, got his suit out and she said ‘You won’t be needing that’...

"As a youngster I can still remember all the cash and cheques being counted on the kitchen table at home during holiday weekends. We don’t do that now."

He added: "Pwrhaps the bit I have neglected recently is horticulture and that will once again become our main focus next year. People have different ways of spending their leisure time now, and double digging isn’t necessarily up there with people’s ideas of great fun.  

"We need to recognise that gardening is different now."

In 70 years time, he hopes: "It would be nice to think there was something similar here. We are putting a new business plan together at the moment, but it doesn’t quite look forward 70 years." 


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