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Some clarification is needed here as there are 2 Presidents named William nelmes in our records and for the first time this is not the same person being the president more than once. This first occasion is William Nemes senior and the second occasion will be his son also called William and referred to in these pages as William Nelmes junior
William Nelmes Junior and Senior with kind permission of the Nelmes Family
Sadly we do not have an obituary of him in the Newsletters (transactions had ceased by the time of his passing). There is an excellent summary of him available on this Cardiff Parks and the Nelmes Family webpage.
The authors of that site have kindly provided some information regading his arrival in Cardiff from Newport where he was employed as Parks Superintendent: -
Parks and Cemeteries Committee 18th September 1936
para 228 A letter from Mr W. Nelmes was read, resigning his appointment as Parks Superintendent, he having been appointed as Chief Officer of Parks at Cardiff. It was reported that Mr Nelmes' resignation would expire on the 17th October, 1936. Resolved that the resignation be accepted with great regret, and that the congratulations and best wishes of the Committee be accorded to Mr Nelmes.
The earliest reference we have to William Nelmes senior (and it can only be him at that date) is in volume LXXI of the Transactions in 1938 when he provided meteorological records with a rainfall amount for Roath park. Sadly Society events and Transactions were then suspended for the duration of the war, and it was not until 1948 that he appears again
May 14. Field Meeting. Visit to the Dingle, Cefn On, and gardens at Nant Fawr, Lisvane, under the guidance of Mr F. W. Nelmes, M.B.E., F.R.H.S.
From the Cardiffparks webpage referenced above we have the information that his M.B.E. was awarded for his exceptional contribution in utilising the parks and open spaces for food production, and that it was he who instigated the purchase and development of Cefn Onn which he was clearly the right person to lead the Society on a visit to. That same year he gave a talk to the Society on "Chrysanthemums"
In 1958 he gave his presidential address which was A brief history of the Cardiff parks which documents amongst the text the part that other Presidents of the Society such as Peter Price 12th President and Edwin Seward 21st President have had.
As reported in Volume XCIV of the Transactions, he had a key part in the public celebrations of the Societies' Centenary Celebrations : -
1967 A Decorative Flower Bed in Kingsway, next to the Castle, devoted to 'The Cardiff Naturalists' Society, 1867-1967', was arranged by the Director of Parks, Mr. William Nelmes, M.B.E., A.H.R.H.S., F.INST.P.A., from July onwards.
During his time as Chief Officer of Parks he was able to stay at the official residence as noted on Powering the Park: -
Roath Park House was built in 1897 within the Pleasure Garden as the official residence for the Parks Superintendent (later Chief Parks Officer). It was home successively to William Pettigrew until 1915, his younger brother Andrew Alexander Pettigrew from 1915 to 1936, and William Nelmes, who was appointed Chief Officer of Parks and Open Spaces in September 1936.
But it is in service to the City of Cardiff more than just to the Society that he is rightly remembered and there are many more on-line references to his key part in shaping the green city we have today: -
His and his Son's part in establishing the Howardian nature reserve is noted in the Friends of Forest Farm Newsletter Issue No: 103
His role in establising Parc Cefn Onn is noted in http://www.parksandgardens.org and again on Ramblings of a retired teacher
His role (although it is not clear and could be his son) in the development of Bute Park Arboretum is noted on Parks & Gardens of South Wales
He is remembered with a tree dedicated in his honour in the Roath Park pleasure gardens as is son William Nelmes junior who took over from him as Parks director on his retirement.
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Before this... Lionel F. Cowley, M.SC (?-1971) 79th President
Next up... Edith M Sheppard, F.Z.S. 81st President
See our Full list of Presidents