Henry Albiston – Curator of Boston Park
The obituary, in the Rotherham Advertiser, on the death of Henry Albiston on 28th August 1908, illustrates clearly his dedication to his duties as curator of Boston Park and also his work in other gardens in England and reads as follows:
“We deeply regret to have to record the death, which took place on Saturday evening, of Mr Henry Albiston, curator of Boston Park, Rotherham, who has held the position over thirty years and was in his 86th year. About six months ago Mr Albiston suffered from an attack of influenza, which left him weak and for about a fortnight, before his death he was gradually sinking.
The end came quite peacefully.“
Mr Albiston was one of the oldest servants of the Rotherham Corporation and he commenced his duties at Boston Park at an age we would consider much too old for one entering the municipal service.
Boston Park was ceremonially opened for the use of the public of Rotherham on July 4th 1876. Two years ago, on the anniversary of the interesting event, a representative of the Advertiser had a chat with Mr Albiston, the substance of which was printed at the time. Though then at the ripe age of 83 Mr Albiston continued his daily duties, often rising before six o’ clock in the morning and seldom finishing until about nine at night during the summer months.
Mr Albiston was born at Dalton, and his first place as gardener was at Alwarke Hall, which does not now exist. In the years that followed he held positions at Owston Park, near Doncaster, The Woodlands, near Doncaster, at Arksey, at the York Nurseries and in 1847 or 1848 he came to Rotherham, or rather Masbro’, one of his first important professional tasks being to lay out the grounds of Ferham House, the occupant of which was then Lawyer Royle. After this he served at Car House and at Oakwood Hall nearly ten years serving Mr James Yates. He there had control of fifty two men and fourteen horses. He planted all the large trees at Oakwood, and indeed Mr Albiston gained a high reputation for that kind of work, becoming known as the “King of tree-lifters”. He removed and replanted trees six hundred years old, which are still living to testify his skill.
From Oakwood, Mr Albiston went to Cairnforth, then occupied by George Brown and he was in this service at the time he was appointed by the Corporation to lay out Boston Park. It must not be forgotten that Boston Castle Hills at that time were little more than a quarry hole. Large deposits of stone remain yet and anyone examining the face of the stone will find traces of fastenings where pent roofs were secured when cattle shelters leaned against the rock. The land was acquired by the Corporation for forty years at a rental of £50 a year. The magnificent carpet bedding for which Boston Park is famous for miles around was Mr Albiston’s favourite. During his long career as a gardener, Mr Albiston acted as judge at many important horticultural exhibitions in various parts of the country. Among many other horticultural triumphs he achieved was the raising of two special lobelias, which are known all over the country as “Rotherham Park” and “Boston Castle”. He had gardening friends and acquaintances on many large estates in the kingdom.
Mr Albiston was chiefly responsible for the arrangements of Clifton Park, so far as the plants and shrubs are taken into account, and performed similar services in connection with the Masbro Recreational Ground and more recently the Corporation’s Isolation Hospital grounds in Badsley Moor Lane.
The remains of the late curator of Boston Park were laid to rest on Wednesday in the Rotherham Cemetery adjoining the ground he had tended so carefully for over thirty years. Among those present were the Mayor of Rotherham, Dr G H Lodge, Ald A Bryant (chairman of the parks committee) and other councillors representing the Borough.
The grave was lined with broad ivy and asters and several beautiful wreaths mostly from relatives were laid on the coffin.
The coffin which was of pitch pine with brass handles was carried from Boston Castle house, which is close to the cemetery on the shoulders of men who had been under Mr Albiston’s supervision on work in the park. The service was conducted by Rev James Davies, curate at the Rotherham Parish Church.