After the War growth gradually resumed with brother Harry growing the chrysanthemums and John the dahlias. Then in November 1926 Harry was killed in a train crash at Rotherham, returning from exhibiting and judging chrysanthemums at Hull chrysanthemum show. This was a terrible blow and John took over the running of the whole nursery. Water supply was becoming inadequate and he called in local water diviner Bill Lines. He decided on a promising spot and an artesian well was discovered 200ft down. It was used to fill overhead tanks holding 2000 gallons of water, air-warmed for the exhibition chrysanthemums.
This year we started growing exhibition begonias, as well as breeding new varieties
When the next World War began growth again came to a halt when the staff went off to fight. A few were left and mostly food crops were grown although we were allowed to keep a few plants of each cultivar.
After the war my father John Frederick Woolman took over when he was demobbed from the navy where he had been serving as a clinical photographer on the hospital ship HMHS Tjitjalengka.
A new canteen was built at Shirley and the staff continued to expand. In 1948 I was born and because of my curly red hair I was made the firms mascot ‘Curly from Shirley’.
Below is an advert from The Chrysanthemum a monthly journal of January 1953 with a supposed likeness of me, as the mascot.
My Grandfather now retired to Broadacre the house in Dorridge that he had bought during the war, and tried not to interfere too much with my father running the nursery. He also started a new nursery there and grew all the dahlias as well as breeding the new chrysanthemums.
John Woolman next to a plant of Heracleum giganteum in his garden at Broadacre.
We were doing a lot of exhibiting now at all the big shows, Chelsea, Southport, Shrewsbury, Birmingham, Sheffield and many, many others. One September we put up a record 10 shows in one week. A member of staff even took 3 boxes of bloom over to Belfast on the train and ferry, put them up, stayed and took some orders and then came back on the Monday. In those days a lot of orders would come in from the shows. At Chelsea on the first day we would have four men on the stand all taking orders, with a small queue in front of them. I was paid 6d an hour to work when I was not at school but I had to do the first hour free and half my wages had to go to mother for my board.