Historic Belsize Park florist set to be demolished

The last remnant of a vast century-old garden centre in Belsize Park is set to be bulldozed to the dismay of conservationists.

Plans are in motion to replace Salmon Florist, next to Belsize Tube station in Haverstock Hill, with housing - bringing the curtain down on the historic Devonshire Nurseries site.

The garden centre, which used to cover swathes of land behind the Tube station and sell huge water features to its well to-do clientele, has been replaced with coffee shops and a council estate.

But the florist, which is set up in little more than a ramshackle shed, has been a feature of the shopping parade for more than 40 years and is all that remains.

Gene Adams, a former chairwoman of Belsize Conservation Area Advisory Committee, said: “People walk past it on their way to the station and don’t realise what it was.

“This is part of our local history and it would be very sad if it were just knocked down without anyone knowing about it.

“It’s one of the last useful shops on the street now. It’s all very well for tourists to come here have a pizza in the sun and then leave, but people who live here want useful shops like the florist.”

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Camden Council sold the land in 2010 and developers have approached Belsize Residents Association and the conservation advisory committee with plans to raze the florist’s to the ground and build a basement development.

Film-maker David Percy, who has produced a two-hour feature on the history of Belsize which premiered last week, bemoaned the passing of a piece of local heritage.

“It’s a very sad day when these older parts of Belsize disappear, or potentially go,” he said.

“It’s a great shame for it to disappear without anyone realising how significant a part of the place that it played in the past, first as a huge garden centre and then as a florists.

“It would be rather sad for it to go without anyone shedding a tear.”

Ms Adams, who used to work in some of the world’s top museums, stumbled across the history of the garden centre when she was putting together a local history exhibition at Hampstead Town Hall for the turn of the millennium.

“I have quite a clear picture of this elderly man in his suit, offering his treasured picture,” she said.

“He was pointing across the road, saying in a sad voice, ‘I used to work there. Those were the best days of my life’.

“People should at least know what they’re losing.”

No-one from developers Nicholas Taylor and Associates was available for comment.