Paxton Close, TW9

Place Name

Sir Joseph Paxton (August 3, 1803 – June 8, 1865) was a gardener, architect, engineer, and Member of Parliament, best known for designing the Crystal Palace and for cultivating the Cavendish banana, the most consumed banana in the Western world. He was closely linked to Kew Gardens especially at moments of crisis. Born into a farming family he grew up working the land but as the seventh son stood little chance of inheriting it. Instead he became a gardener where his talents flourished, eventually landing up at the Horticultural Society’s Chiswick Gardens. It was a chance meeting with William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire at Chiswick House, that were to change his fortunes. So struck by the young man’s enthusiasm and knowledge, the Duke offered him the job of head gardener at Chatsworth House on the spot. Paxton wasted no time in putting himself to work and transformed the palatial gardens. As well as changing the landscape he repaired the dilapidated greenhouses and brought in new species to cultivate. He was a frequent visitor to Kew advising on the development of the Botanical Gardens, particularly in 1837 when their future was in the balance as it was being transferred into public ownership. He was closely linked too with the developed of the Palm House in 1843; and in 1849 obtained seedlings of the Victoria Amazonia, which he triumphantly brought to flower at Chatsworth. His work on the Great Conservatory, a huge greenhouse, was the test-bed for the prefabricated glass and iron structural techniques which Paxton pioneered and would employ for his masterpiece: The Crystal Palace of the Great Exhibition of 1851. He made a fortune too as a railway speculator and in 1854 became the Liberal Member of Parliament for Coventry, a position he held until his death. This cul-de-sac was first proposed in 1966 and began to be laid out in 1967.

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