CONGRESBURY GARDENING CLUB

History

Changes

In the early days the show was held in late July or August and the event was a “Flower Show”. In some years it was billed as a “Horticultural Show” and later as a “Flower, Fruit, Vegetable and Handicraft Show”. In the 1950’s with the revival of the Society after the Second World War the show was still held in a big marquee on the playing fields, but with rapidly growing costs and some rainy summers, running a show on these lines became difficult indeed. In 1955 therefore, the Show was reduced in size and transferred to the Memorial Hall, a retrograde step in the eyes of many. However, by 1966 the Society had recovered sufficiently to return to a show in a marquee on the playing fields, to the great pleasure of many members and indeed the whole village.

Also at about this time it became clear that the usual date of late July or August was, in a horticultural sense, late in the season. Also, there was pressure from other village organisations for an earlier date so that with the Show marquee supported by stalls, etc., for the Women’s Institute, the Bowling Club, the Scouts and Guides and others that wished to participate, the event would become some thing of a Village Fete.

It was surprising that the show had previously been held so late in the season when one remembers that in June the gardens of Congresbury were ablaze with displays of beautiful roses. So, in 1966, the show was renamed as “Show of Roses”, the date was brought forward to June, and the schedule included a much wider range of classes for roses. The change was well received by exhibitors and visitors but by this time further changes were also needed. Somehow the Society was drifting rather aimlessly and there was a lack of direction. Membership had fallen to a low figure and attendance at the monthly winter time meetings was very poor.

The Society had also lost some great stalwarts, among them Geoffrey Peacock, Treasurer from 1964 to 1968, a sound administrator and a wise and kindly voice in committee. His unexpectedly early death in 1969 was a great loss to the Society. In his memory the Society provided in 1970 a silver cup to be known as the Geoffrey Peacock Cup. It is awarded annually to the best exhibit in the rose classes by a Congresbury Horticultural Society member and that year his widow, Joan, presented the cup to the first winner, Mr J S Bennett.

Nevertheless, a nucleus of keen and experienced members remained, among them Edward Watkins, Arthur Cockram, Mrs Kathleen Cran, Miss Jean Day, Mrs Esther Birkett, Arthur and Harold Westcott and better times were at hand Under the successive Presidencies of Mrs Kathleen Cran and Miss Jean Day, a united, happy and hard working committee was brought together This committee was further strengthened in 1970 when Lester Stradlmg agreed to take over the office of Secretary Unfortunately for us, ill health caused his retirement from that post in 1973 but in that short time he and his new committee rejuvenated the Society and once more the Horticultural Society began to take a prominent position in the life of the village.