The Southport & District
HISTORY OF THE SOCIETY
The original Southport Chrysanthemum Society was disbanded at the onset of World War 2. When peace had resumed Chrysanthemum shows continued to be staged in the Floral Hall by the Council's show committee but it was not until 1949 that the enthusiast growers were asked to re-form the Society and take over the running of the annual shows. So, in December 1949 the Southport and District Chrysanthemum Society was reborn and in 1953 the Society ran its first show independently of the Council. The £100 offered by the Council to offset losses was not required.
Over the years, meetings have been held in many locations including Christ Church School Hall, the Temperance Institute, Longs Café Lord Street, YMCA Eastbank Street and Foresters Hall in Wright Street, our present one being the Lord Street West URC Hall.
In the early years the shows were staged in Christ Church School Hall and later in the Wayfarers Arcade, Lord Street. The current location in the beautiful Botanic Gardens has been our triannual show site since 1974. In 1974 and 1998 the Society won the meritorious Championship Trophy of the Northern Counties Chrysanthemum League, held in Manchester. The first Spring Show to be staged in Southport for 20 years was successfully launched in April 1982 and has continued to be a popular event.
During the staging of our late Chrysanthemum Show in 1977 there was a total electricity blackout in the hall but despite this the show proved to be one of the highest quality shows of the past 25 years. The Visiter reported "This transcending spectatcle of well-shouldered blooms of exquisite form, skilfully grown and expertly presented, must have led the beholder to wonder what quality had to be produced to win a prize when quality was so high, for it was doubtful if the standard could have been surpassed anywhere."
As the number of growers of both early and late Chrysanthemums began to dwindle in the early 1980s and attendance numbers at the Society's meetings dipped to the low twenties, a decision was made by the remaining members at that time to change the direction of the Society to include a more general theme of gardening topics. This way it was hoped to preserve the interest in chrysanthemum growing while offering more of interest to gardeners generally and thereby increase membership numbers. The Society became a registered charity, not only to preserve the Chrysanthemum but to pursue an interest in all areas of horticulture.
This decision was fundamental to the present day success of the Society. In 1985 the first Newsletter was published and day trips recommenced. The first President of the Society was Councillor E Tomlinson J P and the first Chairman, Mr A J Hughes. They would not have recognised the present day members' meeting nights, where membership has grown to 250, attendances regularly exceed 120 and members can enjoy hearing top quality speakers from all corners of the country on a wide variety of subjects. The Late Chrysanthemum Show has returned to the Wayfarers Arcade and gives much pleasure to the public at large.
present Chairman, Denis Shea, has been in office since 1992. What changes
will his successors reflect upon at the end of the next 50 years?