Reginald James Wells 1908-1989

“Few people have lived a more varied and exciting life than Mr R J Wells”   ( Brecon and Radnor Express)

·  The son of a village blacksmith, from the age of 15 he worked in the garden of Littlecote House, Berkshire.  There he helped tend the fruit and raise the flowers used to decorate the Big House. 

·  Became a footman in the house of author E V Lucas, where he was taught to drive (he was given one lesson!); when he left 6 years later, was given a leaving present of a week’s course at the Rolls Royce School in London

·  Worked in Kent as chauffeur for the widow of a millionaire; also acted as butler when special guests came

·  A move to Newbury to work for a racecourse owner (his wife was already cook/housekeeper there) involved driving the Rolls Royce about 1000 miles per week to courses all around the country; became a friend of the family and stayed in the best hotels when on the road; drove many famous jockeys.

When failing eyesight forced him to retire in 1936, Mr Wells - “Jimmy” to his many friends - moved to Brecon to start a Market Garden in Pennorth on the land of his brother-in-law, Mr Tanner.  Starting with one small greenhouse and two acres of land, the business grew and developed throughout the war years.  Produce was used to feed the troops in Brecon.  The Army, in return, provided plenty of manure from the horses stabled nearby. The War Agriculture Department Depot was able to provide a man and a tractor plus land girls to assist in the necessarily intensive production.

In 1949 Jimmy opened a Fruiterer & Florist in Brecon (on the site where Coffee #1 now stands).  It had a staff of four men and six girls and traded for the next 27 years.  He was now a member of the Interflora Conference Committee, and his talents led him to act as a judge in Jersey’s Battle of Flowers.

He twice judged in the Royal Welsh Shows.  He was asked to do the floral work for Queen Elizabeth ll’s visit to the Brecon Centenary Show.  This included the Royal Pavilion, the Luncheon Tent and flower beds outside – as well as making Her Majesty’s bouquet.  He also decorated Brecon Station, and after the visit was given a police escort to take those arrangements onto Llandovery station! 

The Brecon shop mounted beautiful displays and was proud to win the Chamber of Trade’s Best Dressed Shop Window Competition for five years in succession.  In September 1979 Jimmy was given the great honour of doing the flowers on the Altar for the visit of Pope John 2nd to Drogheda.

For many years, Jimmy was an Elder at Pennorth Chapel, always ready to lend a hand and lead many of the working and maintenance parties.

His wife Mary died in 1977 (his daughter Audrey had been electrocuted tragically in 1951 when cleaning the inside of the shop window), and Reginald James Wells passed away on 2 November 1989.  His final resting place is Pennorth burial ground.