Bernard Collis

Scope and Content

2 tapes, 2 cds by Bernard Collis
Worked at Gunnersbury Park for 47 years with Lord Rothschild. Started in 1919 when he was 14. He started by cleaning all the boots and shoes of the Head Gardener's family, then he would clean the knives, take the logs, chop the wood, the coal, all in their bins, into the kitchen and be ready for the next day. Then he would collect the milk from the dairy, scrub the stonework, clean the windows, clean the chickens out, collect the eggs. He got paid ten shillings a week.
Visitors like Lord Roper, Lord Lascelles, Lord Derby, the richest people in the world used to come for picnics and boating on the Potomac. The gravel paths used to be spotless, with three ladies kneeling, hand weeding the paths.
At six o'clock one morning a robber had run from Acton Town station into the park chased by PC Kelly. Mr Cleaver, the Rothschilds' gatekeeper ran after him and was shot in the arm. PC Kelly was shot in the eyes and killed. Mr Cleaver chased the robber past Barons Pond, but he escaped into Ealing Common and was not caught.
In 1926 Gunnersbury Park was opened by Neville Chamberlain. Miss Smee was there, she was a mayoress of Acton, a magistrate and the first woman who looked after the museum.
Died May 1994 aged 84
Photo: On tractor on terrace 1945 (82.114/8)
Photo: On putting green 1935 (82.114/6)
Photo: With watering can 1949 (82.114/9)