Fred was born in March 1905 in Rosyth in Scotland and attended school at Limekilns. From then he went on to the Dockyard College - doing his final year at Heriot Watt College where he was awarded his BSc.
By the time he'd qualified during the Depression in the mid 1920's, jobs were scarce, so he set out to find work walking over 100 miles. The jobs he found included being a postman, telegraph engineer, bank clerk and "housewife" to 40 navvies.
He was finally offered a job at Boulton & Paul in Norwich and it was here that he met his future wife Nesta, both being members of the tennis club and the amateur dramatic society.
They married in 1929, eventually moving to Brough in East Yorkshire, where Fred got a job at Blackburn Aircraft. .
When war broke out, Blackburn Aircraft took over other factories - in Leeds, and Dumbarton; and Fred spent his time travelling between the three factories keeping supplies flowing smoothly - he was also flown into France on several occasions to help patch up crashed aircraft and get them back to England.
After the war Fred returned to Boulton & Paul - this time to the aircraft division at Wolverhampton. Setting up house in Codsall, Fred and Nesta started up both a horticultural society and an amateur dramatic society, both of which are still thriving today. Fred's boss at Boulton & Paul was J.D.North who was a very keen gardener, and they encouraged one another. It was whilst at Codsall that the gardening was becoming more specialised and in particular an interest in Alpines. Fred travelled all over Europe leading groups of interested plantsmen and women in the hunt for Alpines, collecting a formidable collection both of genuine plants and slides taken of them in situ half way up an Alp. At one time Fred was given a caricature of himself wearing lederhosen and a cheeky Tyrolean hat, with one foot perched on a small mountain. It was suggested he had a preference for alpine flowers because they were the only ones he could reach, Fred being short of stature. This idea vastly amused him..
As keen plantsman, during this period, Fred thought nothing of driving to London after work on a Monday to deliver his plants for shows at the RHS, and again on Wednesday to pick them up again. Involved in the RHS from early on, Fred told me he was responsible for much of the organisation of the main marquee at the Chelsea Flower show, coming up with what were then innovative ideas to its use and method of erection. Interestingly the RHS only introduced a new style marquee at Chelsea after Fred's death. He certainly acted as a judge at many RHS shows including Chelsea..
In 1953, Fred moved again to Hunting Aircraft at Luton Airport and he and Nesta came to live at Green End in Leverstock Green. He soon became works director at Luton and was actively involved on the production of both the BAC111 and the Concorde.
Very soon after coming to Leverstock Green in 1953 (moving in the day before the Coronation) both Fred & Nesta became actively involved in village life, remaining so for the rest of their lives. There was a time when the village library was housed in their front room, and the playgroup was also run from their house. Leverstock Green was still a small village community in those days, and Fred got to know just about everybody. Even towards the end of his life he knew anyone of any importance in the village ~ and he made sure they knew what he felt they should be doing for the village!
Compared to many Leverstock Green residents, my real acquaintance with Fred is of a relatively recent date. [Though I had met both him & Nesta at a dinner dance given by BAC in Guildford in the early 1960's (both my parents also working for BAC, but at Weybridge.) Yet in the few years that I knew him well, I came to respect him greatly, and as Leverstock Green's local historian, I quickly came to realise that without Fred's interest, commitment and ability to organise and motivate, Leverstock Green would not be the place or the community it is today. He was tireless in his endeavours to ensure Leverstock Green should have the facilities to match the ever growing community's needs, and that the local environment should be protected form change which would threaten the well-being and spirit of the local community. Yet he was not against change for changes sake, indeed he was in the forefront of organising change where it was to the perceived advantage of the local community. This is best illustrated by his initiating the creation of the present village green as a proper base for the local Cricket Club - the original roadside green going back to medieval times and before, being much smaller.
Fred joined the management committee of the Parish Hall (then almost opposite their bungalow) within a year of moving to Leverstock Green, becoming their Treasurer in 1955 and elected a Trustee in 1957. He was responsible for the launch of LGVA in 1962, being our Chairman for many years and Life President in more recent times. He spent years negotiating the change from the Parish Hall Trust to the Parish Trust, of which he was Chairman till shortly before his death.
After retiring from the British Aircraft Corporation in 1968, he divided his time between his four principle interests: Leverstock Green , his garden, the RHS, & the Alpine Garden Society, which he joined in 1945, eventually acting as local group secretary in Hertfordshire for more than 20 years. On the national committee of the Alpine Society he took office as Treasurer, Honorary Publicity Officer and Director of Tours. In 1974 he was made Vice-president and in 1978 he was awarded the Lyttel Trophy for his contribution to Alpines; Fred's specialities were crocus, snowdrops and cyclamen. He also derived great pleasure from the Cyclamen Society which he founded in about 1983, becoming their President.
Fred will be best remembered by many in Leverstock Green as the person who was at the forefront of the fight to prevent a heliport being built on what was eventually to become BP headquarters, now known as Breakspear Park. In this campaign and many others he was never afraid to meet the authorities head on (whatever their political persuasion), and he seemed to have the knack of cutting through red-tape as if it didn't exist.
In 1986 he was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the Community, an honour of which he was greatly proud and justly deserved.
Following his death in August 1998 it was my privilege to go through all the documents found at Green End connected with the two Leverstock Green halls. They provided a more than adequate testimony to the huge amount of time and effort Fred was prepared to put into the Leverstock Green community.
I had by July 1999 fully catalogued the papers found at Green End, and this archive of material has now been deposited at HALS (Hertfordshire Archive & Local Studies, County Hall Hertford. - previously known as Hertfordshire Record Office.) As well as the material itself HALS has a comprehensive catalogue I compiled of the documents. Further copies are held by DCHT, Hemel Hempstead Library and Leverstock Green Library where they are available for anyone who wishes to view them.
Until a few weeks prior to his death in August 1998 at the age of 93, Fred was still actively involved with the local community, and relished his role as President of LGVA . We were then (and still in the summer of 2001, are currently awaiting the outcome of the Public Inquiry Inspector's deliberations) involved in a fight to prevent the Local Authority redesignating an area around Westwick Farm, so that it would loose its Green Belt Status, and instead of green fields become another housing estate). He was also very proud of the fact that he had been instrumental in moving the War Memorial to a more suitable site nearer the church in April 1997
At this service Richard Reece, Madge Cheesbrough's grandson played the organ, and a tribute was given by his Great Nephew Richard Goss. Amongst other details recalled by Richard, he remembered the celebrations for Fred's 93rd birthday in May when Fred's niece and Richard's mother Deborah Goss, her five children and their partners had joined Fred and Madge Cheesebrough (a long time friend ) for a celebration at the Plough in Leverstock Green followed by a tour of his wonderful garden. He had been in good form that day, telling many interesting stories about his past. .
His garden at Green End (above) had given pleasure to thousands of people over the previous 40 years, as Fred & Nesta had frequently opened it to the public, raising many thousands of pounds for charity in the process. Many of the numerous plants which he and Nesta had so carefully nurtured over the years he gave to the various gardening charities after his death. The cyclamen going to the Royal Cyclamen Society - along with the beautiful coloured pencil drawings he made of various plants; his alpine troughs to the Alpine Society; the snowdrops (upon which he was also a world expert) to the RHS, and other shrubs and hardy plants to the Royal National Rose Society.
Right: Obituary printed in the RHS Garden Magazine, November 1998.
The year following Fred's Death was the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Leverstock Green village Hall. An event for which Fred was chiefly responsible along with Ron Teasel, having spent many years cajoling the local authority into agreeing to build the hall, only to see the plans falter time and again. However, as with most of Fred's plans, they got there in the end.
To celebrate both the occasion of the anniversary, and to do justice to the memory of Leverstock Green's most prominent resident in the second half of hte twentieth century, Leverstock Green Village Association hosted an evening entitled "A Celebration in Words & Music.".
This photograph appeared in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette in august 1973, and shows Fred in the garden of Gren End, holding a model of the newVillage Hall built by Ron Teasel.
These two photos show the hall in the process of building.
GW Kirk OBE hands keys to .J Johnson, watched by Fred Buglass.
As part of this celebration a memorial plaque, designed in stained glass by Leverstock Green resident John Lawson, was unveiled by Ron Teasell in the hall as a memorial to the commitment Fred & his wife had given to the village over the years.
Incorporated into the design of the plaque and representing his life outside Leverstock Green were one of the planes Fred was involved with during the war, and a group of cyclamen and snowdrops. Later on that year in the autumn, 5000 snowdrops were planted on the village green in front of Church Cottages, in his memory, and for the community to enjoy.
Without doubt, had Fred Buglass not come to live in Leverstock Green, the village and the community would in every sense be poorer. It is a debt we all owe him, and one which I hope will also be appreciated by future generations.
Barbara Chapman 29 July 2001
Below: Gazette item - this was front page news.
BELOW: A very small selection of photographs taken on the occasion of Fred's 90th birthday celebrations ~ a surprise party held in the hall.