A Short History of the Widnes & District Horticultural Society


 Our Society was originally named the Widnes Horticultural Society. It 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. These were then and are still competed for each year.

During the first 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 2-5pm.
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 (then) Technical College in Victoria Square. (this is now the Widnes Library and Learning Centre).

 Sadly, because of the lack of support, the Society closed.  All the Society’s assets were placed in the safe keeping of Widnes Council. This included all trophies and the remaining monies.

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 regenerate interest in the Society. This was successful and the new Society was re-constituted and named ‘The Widnes and District Horticultural Society’.

 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 annually. These were:

 June – Rose Show

August – Main Show

September – Chrysanthemum & Dahlia Show

November – Late Chrysanthemum Show

 The Shows 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, Dundalk Road, Widnes. For the past two years the Show has been held at The Frank Myler Pavillion, Liverpool Road, Widnes. 

 Since 2004, only one Show per year was held to cover all the categories. The move was viewed with some trepidation but the event turned out to be a huge success. This has continued.

 The Show was expanded to include  Crafts, Painting, Photography and Home Baking. Also a children’s section was added  and  in 2014  a further category for Schools. These changes heralded more popular success for the Society.

 The Annual Show is organised by the Committee with leadership from the current chairperson, Angela Ball.

 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 the Show judges come from these Societies which ensures experience and fair judging for all exhibits.

In addition to the Annual Show, the Society holds a number of events throughout the year. These include social events, visits to gardens and other places of interest and talks on horticultural aspects by selected knowledgeable speakers. The 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.  See the Events section for further details.

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