A Short History of the Widnes & District Horticultural Society

 The Society, named the Widnes Horticultural Society, was formed in 1900 and its chief patrons were the Gossage family who owned the soap works in West Bank, Widnes. The family donated two trophies, the Miss Gossage Cups which are competed for every year.
This notice below appeared in the Widnes Weekly News advertising the first Horticultural Show which took place on
16th August 1900:

 The first annual exhibition of the above Society will be held on Thursday 16th August in the St Ambrose Victoria Hall, Halton View, Widnes.
Prizes will be offered for fruit, vegetables, window plants, neatest flower garden and best cropped vegetable garden for persons residing in the Borough of
Widnes, south of the Cheshire Lines Railway.
Open classes for persons residing within a radius of five miles from
Widnes Town Hall.
Farmer’s class for roots and cereals.
Show opens at
2.00pm. Entries close not later than July 1st. 1900 for window plants. For other classes, August 1st. 1900.
Intending exhibitors please communicate with the Hon. Secretary J. H. Knowles,
125 Warrington Road, Widnes.
A grand concert of vocal and instrumental music by talented artists will be given in the afternoon and evening. Admission
1 shilling; after
5.00pm. 6d Children half price.

The Society flourished through both World Wars until 1948. At this time the shows were held in the main hall at the technical college in Victoria Square. However, owing to the lack of support, the Society sadly closed.  All the Society’s assets were placed in the safe keeping of Widnes Council. This included all trophies and the remaining money.
In 1960 Councillor R. Illidge noticed the trophies in the vault of the old Town Hall and he started to make enquires about the Society.
In 1961 a committee was formed to restart the Society to be named the
Widnes and District Horticultural Society.

President Mr J. E. Willetts
Vice Presidents
G. Maddra, R. Illidge, H. Saddler, Mrs Pullen,
A. Bromiley (F Inst.PA., BCA,)
Parks Superintendent.
Chairman H. B. Cook
Treasurer O. Smith
Secretary R. Norton
L. Bradburn, J. Baker, A. Done, H. Dobson, H. Ditchfield, A. Hewitt, T. Salter,
N. Stott, R. Spencer, W. Spencer, J. Tilley, K. G. Tapsall, Mrs McAllister,  
T. Winstanley.

The first show was in the Queens Hall on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday. In subsequent years other shows were added until there were four shows a year.

June – Rose Show
August – Main show
September – Chrysanthemum & Dahlia show
November – Late Chrysanthemum show

The annual show continued to be held at the Queens Hall until September 2003 when the Queens Hall closed. The following year in 2004, the show moved to Ditton Community Centre. 

Over the years, interest has again started to decrease and now we are down to one show per year which is held on the first Sunday of September in the Ditton Community Centre, Dundalk Road, Widnes.
The move viewed with some trepidation but the event turned out to be very successful and the success of the show has continued. In 2007 the show had 374 entries in 90 classes and the judges said the vegetable section was the best he had seen in any show that year.
In 2004, the children’s section was reintroduced and has proved to be another success story for the show with an increase from 26 to 41 entries in 2007.

The show is organised by the Society’s committee, with Bob Martindale acting as the show manager upto 2011. Bob has been a member of the Society for 50 years plus. The present show manager is Edward Hughes.

The Society is affiliated to the National Vegetable Society, the National Chrysanthemum Society, the National Dahlia Society, the Royal Horticultural Society and the British Fuchsia Society . All our judges are very experienced and as such, great pains are taken to ensure that judging is fair and above board.

Apart from the show, the Society has three other events during the year. A spring buffet/talk, a Hotpot Supper in October and a Christmas buffet/talk. All events also include a raffle with plenty of prizes to be won. These evening events are held at the Halton Stadium which is a very comfortable and attractive venue with plenty of car park space.

 New members are always welcome.

Why not join us?

For further information please email; widneshorticulture@yahoo.com


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