Mollie Martineau was a great supporter of Martineau Gardens, since the beginning of our existence as a Community Garden. She loved how the Gardens reminded her of childhood nature walks. She visited whenever she was able, supporting our events and our fundraising. We benefited a lot from the affection and respect that Birmingham people felt for her. She kept up the connection with us, even after leaving Birmingham, sending warm messages to us through our Trustee, Glenys Thomas.
We owe the name of the Gardens to Mollie Martineau’s family. It was Mollie’s father-in-law Wilfred Martineau, who, as Chairman of the Education Committee, established a Teachers’ Centre on Bristol Road after the war.
He had recognized that Birmingham was facing a problem in attracting and retaining good quality teachers, and he wanted somewhere where the teachers could “put up their feet and let their hair down”. Mollie had lived near the Gardens for over fifty years. She had seen the grounds as a Teachers’ Centre, an Environmental Studies Centre and, through to its present existence as a Community Garden. She and her late husband Denis intervened when the site was at risk of being redeveloped. In an interview for one of our, she explained why her commitment remained strong: “Martineau Gardens is so close to the City Centre, yet whenever I visit, I am reminded of my childhood and the nature walks I used to enjoy so much. This is a very special Garden. As a community garden, it’s here for everyone. It’s wonderful to see a place where children can run and play freely.”
Pictured below, Mollie Martineau opening our Nature Trail (31 March 2011) – Mollie equipped with secateurs snipped through an evergreen, ‘living’ ribbon made from foliage of the Gardens.