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Publication Review
CARTWHEELS AND CHRYSANTHEMUMS: THE STORY OF TWO LOCAL ENTERPRISES
Mervyn Lambourne & Wilfrid Duncombe
£2.50   A4, 17 illustrations, 1 map, published 1993

"Cartwheels and Chrysanthemums" is the delightful and intriguing title of the History Society's seventh publication. In one cover the tales are told of two local enterprises, from their Victorian origins into the twentieth century The authors have gathered large amounts of information with which to tell their stories and have set them out in distinct styles, both of which make easy reading. The story of M. Lambourne Ltd. is traced from its beginnings as a wheelwright business, making wooden wheels for farm carts at their White Post Hill premises, from where they still operate. Over the years the different members of the Lambourne family continually introduced new ideas, dropping the old when appropriate, but kept up with the changing times. The business now fits automatic tail lifts and shutters to lorries, offers a 24 hour service of repairs and is run from a computer-assisted office. A story of steady evolution and progress of a successful family business. In contrast the tale of the "Chrysanthemums" is a dramatic fairy tale success story that flourished, faded and died all in fifty years. The founder, Henry Cannell, started a nursery in Woolwich around 1864. As the business flourished, it moved to Swanley and by 1880 the company had worldwide trade plus many awards. Henry Cannell introduced a plants-by-post service, bred new species of fuchsia and pelargoniums and propagated and promoted a new strawberry. Austin Lodge Farm was purchased for seed production and Henry's son Robert lived at "Chalkhurst", a wedding gift home still standing. Success followed success and the family business seemed to do no wrong. But tragedies began to beset the family in 1907, which led to bankruptcy in 1913 and Henry's death in 1914. What caused the end of an enterprise that had such a glittering heyday?

Audrey Gee
Amended review reprinted from The Trident magazine.