John Shaw senior

Landscape Gardener, nursery and seedsman
Place of Birth
Dumfries, Scotland

 Not to be confused with John Shaw (1776-1832), architect, of London and his son, John Shaw junior 1803-1870. John Shaw senior of London was probably responsible for work at Dunham Massey.

  • Birth date            1813 at Dumfries, Scotland
  • Christening         27 December 1813 at Dumfries
  • Marriage              28 February 1844 to Sarah Hill (widow) at Manchester Cathedral
  • Death date          14 September 1890 at 63 Shrewsbury Street, Old Trafford
  • Designation        Landscape Gardener

Prominent in horticultural circles, John Shaw was born at Dumfries in 1813 the son of Peter Shaw, and christened on 27 December 1813 at Dumfries. As a young man he worked on extensive reclamation works at Cannock Chase but later moved to Manchester, possibly as early as 1841. On 28 February 1844 he married Sarah (Fitzgerald) Hill, a widow with a young daughter, at Manchester Cathedral. The marriage produced a further two daughters and three sons. She died 3 February 1878.

By 1850 John Shaw had taken over the Whalley Range Nursery, Withington Road, Moss Side where he established an extensive business employing eighteen men and two apprentices. At various times he also had outlets in Princess Street, and York Street, Hulme but principally at Oxford Street in the centre of Manchester. With the lease on Whalley Range Nursery due to expire in 1861, he established a new nursery on the A56, opposite to Dunham New Park, Altrincham, opened in February 1859. Catalogues were available by post, a typical advertisement from the Manchester Guardian of 17 September 1861  running: “JOHN SHAW’S Priced DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE of choice Hyacinths, Crocuses, Tulips, etc may be had free by post.  The catalogue contains descriptions of J S’s Choice Collection of Hybrid Gladioli and other novelties. 29 Oxford Street and Stamford Nursery, Bowden, Cheshire.”

In 1855 John Shaw became secretary of the Manchester Botanical and Horticultural Society at Old Trafford  and was also appointed as superintendent of the Manchester parks. Shaw resigned in 1863 due to the pressure of his private business (ibid) He was a life member of the Royal Horticultural Society of England.

Amongst the important works John Shaw designed were the Winter Gardens, Southport; the Botanical Gardens, Liverpool and Stamford Park (qv), Altrincham, opened in 1880. In his obituary in the Manchester Times, repeated in the Manchester Evening News, it was also claimed that he was responsible for Brooklands cemetery, Sale, and awarded first prize for the design of the cemetery at Stretford. No contemporary references have been found to substantiate these claims. Rather the layouts of both were undertaken by their respective architects.

John Shaw also manufactured and sold Shaw’s “Tiffany” Netting -  Directory entries between 1876 and 1886 include references to John Shaw, Tiffany Manufacturer, although advertising suggests that it was first sold as early as 1860.

TIFFANY and ELASTIC NETTING (REGISTERED) - It is now twenty-five years since we introduced the article we called " SHAW'S TIFFANY" for horticultural shading and protecting, and up to the present all imitations have fallen short of the beauty, texture, and utility of the article. Our immense sale enables us at all times to put it on the market at a lower price than any other house. Tiffany and Elastic Netting (REGISTERED), with Canvas and all other Shading and Protecting Materials, manufactured and sold by JOHN SHAW AND CO. 29. Oxford Street. Manchester. Samples and prices on application. [Gardeners' Chronicle 17 May 1879 page 640]

John Shaw died on died 14 September 1890 at 63 Shrewsbury Street, Old Trafford. He had been in failing health for some months previously but did not retire from work until a few weeks before his death