Members at our 2007 BBQ

Naturalists' Society

Cymdeithas Naturiaethwyr



William Nelmes N.D.H, F.Inst.P.A (1932-2005) 94th President

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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 second occasion is William Nelmes junior and the first was his father also called William Nelmes, M.B.E., A.H.R.H.S., F.Inst.P.A. 80th President and referred to in these pages as William Nelmes senior

William Nelmes Junior and Senior with kind permission of the Nelmes Family

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 permitted some information to be shared.

Born in Cardiff he had moved away for work, but in 1965 he returned as he was appointed Deputy Director of Cardiff Parks. He had been awarded a National Diploma in Horticulture (N.D.H.) and was a Fellow of the Institute of Parks Administration (F.Inst.P.A). William (Bill) Nelmes succeeded his father as Parks Director in 1967.[13] He and his family then lived in Roath Park House.

During his time as Director he generally pursued the same policies and horticultural priorities as his father. In addition he presided over the development of some of the smaller open spaces, two of which, Bishop's Palace Gardens and St Mary's Gardens, received awards. In 1974 the Roath Park conservatory was built, replacing two glass houses dating from the early 1900s. It was Nelmes' decision that the new conservatory would be a tropical house.[14] Also, in 1974, the Terra Nova cafe was built in Roath Park on the west bank of the lake.

He retired in 1982 at the age of 50 from the post of Parks Director and was succeeded by Mr. I. L. Davies. Greatly respected for his horticultural expertise, he became Gardens Advisor for the Royal Horticultural Society. He died in 2005 and a Hungarian oak tree (Quercus frainetto 'Hungarian crown') was planted in his memory in the Roath Park Pleasure Garden near Roath Park House.

Regarding this last point it was noted in the South Wales Echo that: -

A Hungarian oak tree, planted in the same gardens where Mr Nelmes met his wife Betty, will now serve as a fitting monument to his legacy.

His and his fathers part in establishing the Howardian nature reserve is noted in the Friends of Forest Farm Newsletter Issue No: 103

His role (although it is not clear and could be his father) in the development of Bute Park Arboretum is noted on Parks & Gardens of South Wales

Personal note by Andy Kendall 113th President: -

My father-in-law worked for the parks on the tractors (He had worked on a farm when he left school aged 14) from 1966 to feb 1973 and remembers both Nelmes' fondly.

He said he had more dealings with Junior as Senior was "the big boss", but he does remember both of them coming across from the offices (now the old youth hostel area) to the yard to speak to the teams very often and always having time to explain and describe to people the plants, their diseases and why they were tasked to do whatever they were doing so that there was understanding not just orders.

He remembers that they were very encouraging to people who wanted to learn and a number of the team went on day release to Llandaff tech.

He also said he remembered Senior's final day (noted on the Cardiff Parks Page) when he came to speak to everyone

However warmly Phil remembers those years... He decided to move into the ambulance service as they were offering a few more shillings per week

Back to the 150th Anniversary index

Before this... Harman A. Bowen A.R.I.B.A. 93rd President

Next up... W. G. Hopkins (?-1996) 95th President

See our Full list of Presidents

These pages are part of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society 150th Anniversary celebrations and are about our history and are celebrating the people who developed our Society and helped build the city and the cultural heritage of Cardiff. You can read more about that using the links above

If you want to read about the ways we study the wildlife and environment of the Cardiff area and its surroundings, and about the talks we have about the wildlife of the world, and find the programme of talks, walks and other events that we do then please take a look at our main website, our blog and our facebook and twitter feeds for up to date news