The Society

Shows and Pageants were introduced into Shrewsbury in the early eighteen hundreds by the Town burgesses in order to increase trade and income to the Town and its businesses.

Country people living in the villages surrounding the town had no real need to come into the Town regularly because each village had its own range of local tradesmen who could produce almost everything which they needed. Many people never left their village in their lifetime and even into the mid twentieth century people would rarely venture into the Town.

Annual Fairs were organised, such as the Gooseberry and Carnation fairs to attract country people into the Town to sell their surplus produce but these fairs often degenerated into excess drinking and occasions of debauchery and quickly got out of hand.

The burgesses, craft guilds and freemen of the Town quickly began to organise the events and the Shropshire Horticultural Society held its first Show in 1857, just outside the Town near the Showground at Coton Hill.

Members of the old Society, who were mainly local business people finally regularised things by holding the first Show of the current Society in 1875. This was in spite of the Home Secretary banning such shows in 1878 and so a special dispensation was given to enable the Show to be held together with the Agricultural Society Show in the Quarry Park in the centre of the Town.

The Band of the Coldstream Guards played at that first event and in the many years up to the present time. Military Band performances have always been a central feature of the Show.

The flowers were exhibited in a “New Tent” 220 ft long and 36ft high which was considered to be enormous in those day. This was made especially for the Show.

The takings for the two day Show were £791-12s giving a profit of £409 for the Show.

The present Shropshire Horticultural Society was formally established in October of 1875, just after the first Show. High quality exhibits of Flowers and Horticulture have always been the main focus of the Show as depicted in its name but from the beginning the Show has provided family entertainment.

In the early days it was daring High Wire Acts and Balloon ascents which, before the days of powered flight must have seemed amazing.

No Shows were held during the first or second world wars and in January 1946 Percy Thrower, who later became the first Radio and later Television gardening personality was appointed Parks Superintendent by the Borough Council. Percy’s father had been gardener at Windsor Castle and Head Gardener on King George’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk. Percy was then the youngest Parks Superintendent in the country and set about creating the present Quarry Park and Dingle layout from the rough areas which had been cultivated during the war. Percy became the Society’s Honorary Horticultural advisor and was a great driving force in the further development of the Show for many years.

The Society is a Registered Charity which has a policy of providing grants in support of a wide range of organisations and activities in Shropshire and has provided many millions of pounds to the community since its inception in 1875.

Major donations to:

The town of Shrewsbury (up to 1988) include:

YearDonorAmount
1986-7Quarry and Dingle Project£101,000
1985Dingle Garden Project£106,940
1983Library Gardens£40,000
1977St Chard's Church£12,342
1966Mardol Head Garden£600
1961Quarry Band Stand Improvements£1,392
1954New Riverside Walk Quarry£1,462
1952Corporation of Shrewsbury - for Silver£2,500
1940Improvements to Castle£420
1939Improvements to Castle Foregate£422
1925Corporation of Shrewsbury for Castle£700 and other similar amounts between 1926-1930
1924Purchase of Shrewsbury Castle and Ground£3,621
1912Alterations to Welsh Bridge£855
1906Improvements to St Chard's Terrace£500
1905Improvements to River Bank in the Quarry£2,164
1897Erection of a Statue to Charles Darwin£1,086
1891Improvements to River Bank in the Quarry£486
1881Erection of the Gates at Quarry Entrance£216
1879Erection of the Band Stand in the Quarry£233

Other Donations (up to 1988) include:

YearDonorAmount
1984National Trust Wenlock Edge£5,000
1955British Show Jumping Olympic Fund£521 and 1950
1953East Coast Relief Fund£262
1910Nurses Home£315
1887Books for Free Library£105

Recent Support to  the Community

In addition to its support of local horticultural shows, schools and annual bursaries the Society has made the following significant donations in the recent past:

YearDonationValue
2017Shropshire Area St John Ambulance£2,600
SIGNAL (Sensory Impairment Global, National and Local)£800
2016Walled Garden Project in Shifnal£10,000
Shropshire Horticultural Society (Wisely Trainee) Charitable Trust£5,000
Percy Thrower Bursary - Chartered Institute of Horticulture£9,000
2015Shropshire Wild Life Trust (Darwin’s Garden Project)£15,000
Walled Garden Project in Shifnal£10,000
Combat Stress£3,665
Chartered Institute of Horticulturalist (including Bursary for Young Horticulturalist of the Year Competition)£9,000
2014Princess Royal Hospital, Telford.£10,000
Walled Garden Project Shifnal£10,000
Chartered Institute of Horticulture£8,000
Shropshire Beekeepers Association£1,050
2013Institute of Horticulture, Bursary for Young Horticulturalist of the Year Competition£7,000
Cabin Lane Church, Oswestry
£1,425
2012St Alkmunds Church.£10,000
Shrewsbury Town Council - Teenage Kicks.£1,500
HM The Queen Jubilee Pagent at RAF Cosford.£7,000
2011St Chad's Church Restoration Fund.£150,000
2010Help for Heroes£5,000
BookFest£2,000
2009Severn Hospice£900
National Garden Society of Shropshire£1,000
Coleham Priory School£2,679
2008Torch Appeal, Gait Laboratory at Oswestry Orthopaedic Hospital.£120,000
Shropshire branch of Red Cross for new ambulance.£54,000
Dial a Ride for a new community transport vehicle.£32,000
Severn Hospice to landscape gardens at the new Telford hospice.£75,000
Shrewsbury Lawn Tennis Club disabled parking provisions.£19,982
Lady Forester Centre, garden landscaping.£17,193
2007St. Mary’s C of E School for landscaping of grounds.£11,186
Walled Garden Project for landscaping of grounds£10,000
2006Mucklestone School, Nr Market Drayton for an educational garden.£11,000
Landscaping of the column island for Britain in Bloom.£10,000
2004Shrewsbury Borough Council to refurbish the Quarry Bandstand.£24,453
Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, Lingen Davies cancer treatment centre.£5,100
Shrewsbury in Bloom Committee£16,875
Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, post graduate training centre.£22,115
2001Quarry Restoration Project in conjunction with Heritage Lottery Fund.£565,000
2000Shropshire Regimental Museum£9,500
1998Shropshire St. John Ambulance new ambulance.£36,955
1997Refurbish the statue of Charles Darwin, Shrewsbury Library.£8,800

Contact Us.

For further information about The Shropshire Horticultural Society or The Shrewsbury Flower Show Please do not hesitate to contact us on:

Telephone 01743 234050 or email: info@shrewsburyflowershow.org.uk