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Women gardeners put on their clogs ready for work, World War II Featured Kew at Work Image

Women gardeners put on their clogs ready for work, World War II

Women gardeners were employed at Kew during World War II, after an interval of nearly a quarter of a century. Fourteen women were enrolled onto the staff in 1940, joined by a further thirteen in 1941. The women referred to their unifrom of apron and clogs as 'battledress'. The clogs were wooden soled shoes with leather uppers. One of the women, Jean Thompson told colleague Betty Cooper: "My most vivid impression was the difficulty I had balancing on the rocks in my clogs."

© RBG KEW

Joseph Reardon pictured during service in WWI Featured Kew at Work Image

Joseph Reardon pictured during service in WWI

Joseph Reardon joined the staff as a gardener in July 1914, having trained at Tully Nurseries, Kildare. He attended Kew's "Mutual improvement Society" scoring the highest numbers in Economic Botany and in October 1914 lectured on Alpines in ireland for the same course. In October 1915 he left to become an Assistant at Cambridge Botanic Gardens, Massachusetts, where he was appointed Curator four years later. He is portrayed here during his wartime naval service

© RBG KEW

Matilda Smith, botanical artist Featured Kew at Work Image

Matilda Smith, botanical artist

Matilda Smith, Joseph Hooker's second cousin, began training as a botanical artist in 1877, at the age of 23, and remained in Kew's employ for 45 years, producing more than 2300 drawings for Curtis' Botanical Magazine. She became the Civil Service's first payrolled botanical artist. In 1916 she became president of the Kew Guild and in 1921 was accepted as an associate of the Linnean Society, only the second woman to receive this honour. Hooker's second cousin, began training as a botanical artist in 1877, at the age of 23, and remained in Kew's employ for 45 years, producing more than 2300 drawings for Curtis' Botanical Magazine. She became the Civil Service's first payrolled botanical artist. In 1916 she became president of the Kew Guild and in 1921 was accepted as an associate of the Linnean Society, only the second woman to receive this honour

© RBG KEW