Southport Flower Show: Then & Now

Southport Flower Show: Then & Now

The Atkinson is joining the #MyLocalMuseum campaign to share more of our collection during lockdown. This week’s theme is ‘people in nature’ and ‘peoples’ response to nature’.

This year the Southport Flower Show is scheduled for 19-22 August 2021, tickets are available online now and will soon be available to purchase at The Atkinson.

Sefton is home to the UK’s largest and longest running independent horticultural festival, Southport Flower Show. The annual show began in 1924 and was organised by the local council, since 1986 it has been operated by a charity, the Southport Flower Show company. Alderman Charles Aveling was one of the council members who had the idea of establishing a flower show and was Mayor of Southport in 1924. Here is an image of Iddons’ stall at the very first festival.

1926 was only the third annual Southport Flower Show, but the layout has lots of features that regular attendees will recognise. The equestrian show ground, the floral marquees, refreshment stalls and display gardens. As the town has changed, so has Victoria Park and Southport Flower Show. The festival takes up more of the park now with the addition of marquees for crafts, cookery and more. Victoria Park itself has grown too! At the very bottom left of this photo you can see a train shed belonging to the Cheshire lines railway. After the trainline moved, the Esplanade Gate and diagonal pathways were added at the northern corner of the park (just to the bottom right of this photo).

There have been different garden categories over the years of the  Southport Flower Show and these look like they are grouped together as rock gardens. They are being built along the same verge that exhibitors today use for their show gardens.

It is impossible to deny the Southport Flower Show’s lasting popularity, although fashions in gardens and clothing have changed considerably over the decades. People still flock to enjoy the new creative ideas of leading landscapers and horticulturalists.

Touring the amazing Grand Floral Marquee containing wonderful plant specimens, an experience that has only become more spectacular over the years. In recent Flower Shows it has been home to amazingly elaborate displays including some more unusual plant varieties.

It appears they all took turns breaking ground for the show. Now that’s entertainment! But not to worry that’s not all…

We can see a packed crowd enjoying the show jumping! The Arena today has incredible variety from equestrian shows to motorcycle stunt teams.

These photographs from 1949 were donated by the Clark family in 1994. If you would like to find out more, The Atkinson holds many other images and artefacts from Southport Flower Show’s history in our museum. Come and discover when we reopen!

Written by Jenny Cope, Museum Futures Trainee

Posted on 2 March 2021 under General news, Museum

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