Honour for man who saved a street and left a legacy

The man behind Warwick's most treasured garden has been given one of the town's greatest honours for his fight to secure residents' homes.

Friday, 27th May 2016, 11:30 am
Updated Friday, 27th May 2016, 12:43 pm

Keen horticulturist and lifelong town resident Arthur Measures was honoured with a Blue Plaque at Mill Garden Cottage where the battle took place over 50 years ago.

Before he died aged 90 in 1999, the former banker was responsible for not only setting up the “breathtaking” half-acre garden but securing land within the whole street.

The plaque, only the second of its kind awarded by the town council, was put up after a plea from former friend and Mill Street resident Clive Mason that the great man’s achievements be marked.

It was 1938 that Mr Measures and his new wife, Violet moved to the road as newest tenants of the Earl of Warwick who owned the whole street.

They later took on a tenancy of Mill Gardens - a space in the shadows of Warwick Castle and also owned by the Earl - which they soon began transforming into the picturesque and popular space it is today.

The garden which covers several levels to give views of the castle and River Avon, has also pulled in more than £100,000 for charities since the couple first opened it up to the public to fund work on the St Mary’s church tower.

But none of it may have been possible if the father-of-two did not lead a syndicate of residents to buy up the whole street from the former Earl.

The pair lived in the street for 20 years before their chance came, and in 1958 the whole road was put up for sale - but as a single lot pricing out all the existing tenants.

Speaking in 1997, Mr Measures said: “Our cottage was included but we had no chance to buy it. All our neighbours were in the same position. It seemed a real calamity.”

Faced with the prospect of a buyer from Birmingham, the syndicate was launched and Mr Measures - its chairman - set about convincing his neighbours to back the cause.

The plan worked and with a £610,000 bid, the team bought the lot before selling off individual leases to residents.

Mr Measures continued: “We thought there may be some way to buy the estate and divide it between ourselves. I spent every evening trying to convince one neighbour or another of the advantages.”

After a later sale, which included the castle, the family bought Mill Gardens and were able to continue planting and bringing displays to visitors.

The garden was kept open in his memory, and despite an attempt to sell the space on, his daughter Julia now lives at the cottage and runs the garden to continue the legacy.

It is still open to the public during parts of the summer.