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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” 220ft 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:

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

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:

Year Donation Value
2017
Shropshire Area St John Ambulance
£2,600
2017
SIGNAL (Sensory Impairment Global, National and Local)
£800
2016
Walled Garden Project in Shifnal
£10,000
2016
Shropshire Horticultural Society (Wisely Trainee) Charitable Trust
£5,000
2016
Percy Thrower Bursary - Chartered Institute of Horticulture
£9,000
2015
Shropshire Wild Life Trust (Darwin’s Garden Project)
£15,000
2015
Walled Garden Project in Shifnal
£10,000
2015
Combat Stress
£3,665
2015
Chartered Institute of Horticulturalist (including Bursary for Young Horticulturalist of the Year Competition)
£9,000
2014
Princess Royal Hospital, Telford
£10,000
2014
Walled Garden Project Shifnal
£10,000
2014
Chartered Institute of Horticulture
£8,000
2014
Shropshire Beekeepers Association
£1,050

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

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