responses to the questions posed:
& David Thomas said the following -
Just a little information about the joint dinner of the
Desert Dining Club and the Rain Forest Club at Kew on 16 July 1986, based entirely on our own recollections.
We both met and ate in the new Princess of Wales Conservatory: the interior was quite sparse (consistent with the building not being officially opened until 1987: see
http://www.kew.org) allowing everyone to move around
easily, and the meal was buffet-style so we could all circulate and talk throughout. We were lucky with the weather: we recall walking in to Kew on a lovely summer evening (just as the normal visitors were streaming out) after what had been a period of definitely poor July weather.
Unfortunately http://www.kew.org is not
very explicit as to who was the Director of Kew at the time, though it would appear to have been Prof EA Bell. This was in Margaret Thatcher's heyday, of course, who wasn't lavish in her enthusiasm for cultural and intellectual matters. Kew's web-site history section for the period only has the
> 1970s and 80s - new glasshouses
> A succession of short tenure Directors succeeded Dr. Taylor. John
> Heslop-Harrison was his immediate successor in 1971 and he instigated
> a variety of building projects during his five years in the position.
> Most of these were seen through to completion during the next five
> years, when JPM Brenan was Director. These included Aiton House; a
> new Quarantine House (1979); the technologically advanced Alpine
> House (1981); and the complete restoration of the Temperate House
> from 1977-1980.
> After this, Professor EA Bell maintained the momentum with building
> work beginning on the Princess of Wales Conservatory in 1984. A
> sprawl of glasshouses was demolished to make way for the
> Conservatory, including the T-Range. Earth thrown up from its
> radically advanced construction was used to create another mound near
> the Broad Walk.
> Professor Bell also oversaw the start of the landscaped Sir Joseph
> Banks Centre for Economic Botany in 1985.