Tributes to Arroll, the city’s ‘head gardener’

Arroll Winning
Arroll Winning

ARROLL Winning, the head of Sheffield’s parks for 15 years and the driving force behind restoration of the Botanical Gardens, died in the Northern General Hospital on Tuesday, aged 86.

He continued to work in the gardens that he loved until he was taken ill at the end of last year. And he has left a flourishing legacy that will ensure his name lives on for generations to come.

“The Botanical Gardens are an asset to the city, but they’re the way they are because of what he started back in 1984,” said curator Ian Turner.

“The plants he propogated last year will still be there next year; his involvement with the Friends and the restoration – that’s the legacy that keeps it going.”

Arroll was born in Scotland, where he studied and taught horticulture until heading south to become a deputy parks superintendent. After a spell in Aberdeen, he finally moved to Sheffield in 1967, becoming Director of Recreation, responsible for the city’s parks, pools, cemeteries, sports halls and playing fields.

His knowledge of plants was encyclopaedic and during his career he was a horticultural examiner for bodies including the Royal Forestry Society and the Royal Horticultural Society – which honoured him in 2007 for his outstanding contributions.

Arroll took early retirement in 1984 and threw himself into looking after the garden at his home in Dore and setting up FOBS (Friends of the Botanical Gardens) with then-curator Don Williams.

He was the group’s chair for the first ten years and its president for the last 18, spearheading the restoration campaign, raising funds and supervising gardening work, once it was permitted from 1993.

“He was an enormous influence and backbone for the Friends; we shall miss him dreadfully. He was a great pillar of society and the gardens,” said his successor, Sue Kohl.

Paul Billington, Sheffield’s director of culture and environment added: “Arroll was a great servant of the city, both as a director of parks and as a key figure in the FOBs. His legacy is a city full of wonderful parks.”

Arroll leaves a widow, Isobel, daughter Rhoda and two granddaughters.

The funeral is due to take place at St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Upper Hanover Street, at 11am on Monday, March 11.

* FOBS is paying tribute to its founder with a memory board in the gardens, where people are invited to post their written memories and photos. This will eventually form part of an e-book.