Winslow Flower Show (1875-1948)

Including Amateur Athletic Sports (1877), Shire Horse Show (1888-1949) and Gymkhana (founded 1944)

Origins of the Flower Show

Buckingham Advertiser, 23 Aug 1930: article by A.J. Clear

I have been asked when Winslow Flower Show really came into being — from an old minute book, I have extracted the following: "At a public meeting at the Assembly Room at the Bell, on Friday, the 5th February 1875 for the purpose of appointing a committee to arrange a show, during the present year, of flowers, fruit, vegetables and poultry by amateurs, cottagers and others residing in Winslow and the neighbourhood — present Messrs. T.P. Willis, Neal, Barton, G. Hawley, Morecraft, Hathaway, J. Grace, Marks, Wilford, Syrett, Mason, Wigley, Matthews, Colgrove, Gurney, etc. — Mr. T.P. Willis having been called to the chair, it was proposed by Mr. Barton, seconded and carried, that a society be formed for the purpose of carrying out the objects of the meeting and that a committee be appointed, with power to add to their number. The following were chosen to form the committee, viz. Messrs. T.P. Willis, M.S. Lowndes, Dr. Newham, Monk, Gurney, Hathaway, Hawley, Barton, Wigley, Morecraft, Grace, Wilford and Mathison. Mr. T.P. Willis was elected chairman and treasurer, and Mr. A.S. Midgley secretary. At the next meeting, Mr. Edward Selby Lowndes was elected chairman and Mr. Meyrick Selby Lowndes vice-chairman.

"Amateurs" meant people who did their gardening for pleasure rather than necessity.

View looking north across fields
This photo taken from the church tower looking north in 1885 shows the Flower Show Field (as it became known; it was previously Jennings Close) with sheep and cattle grazing. St Albans and St Laurence Roads were built there in the 1950s.

The first show

Buckingham Advertiser, 24 July 1875

This spirited little Town celebrated its first Annual Exhibition as above, on Thursday the 22nd inst., under distinguished patronage, E.W. Selby Lowndes, Esq., being president and the following gentlemen Vice-Presidents viz., Hon. T.F. Fremantle, Egerton Hubbard Esq. M.P., Col. Caulfeild Pratt, H.R. Lambton Esq., and M. Selby Lowndes Esq. A very good list of prizes was forthcoming especially when it is remembered that it is the first year such an exhibition has been attempted.

The Show was held in a field kindly lent for the occasion by T.P. Willis, Esq., and was attended with a success sufficient to warrant the anticipation of its becoming an annual gathering. The Northampton Town Band engaged for the day, arrived early, and previous to the opening of the Show played some marches round various portions of the town. Many of the principal inhabitants displayed flags, banner and streamers which gave the little town a pleasing holiday like appearance, and, better than all, "the sun over-head shone joyously out" and seemed by his bright face to wish joy to the day. Better weather could not well be desired for the inauguration of this interesting and popular style of exhibition, and the fact that it was both interesting and popular was verified we think by the fact, that somehwere near sixteen hundred (1600) persons paid for admission to the field, and that the receipts were somewhere near £80.

Arthur Stead MidgleyAt half-past one the public were admitted to the Shows ... The flowers and fruits were arranged for exhibition in one large tent, the cottagers' production occupying a second, and the Poultry well filling a third ... A model garden of very tasteful design was exhibited by A. Watson, gardener to G.R. Greaves, Esq., of Western House, Winslow ... T.P. Willis, Esq., the Treasurer took a very active part in the day's Programme, and Mr. A.S. Midgley, the Honorary Secretary [photo, right] was literally everywhere, busy in seeing to the arrangements, yet finding time to give every information to the representatives of the Press giving them the least possible trouble ... Most of the places of business were closed during the afternoon thus giving the employees and others an opportunity of attending the Show, and we must certainly not omit to mention, that through the kindness of certain gentlemen, the children of the National Schools, boys and girls, and also the Union Workhouse children, were admitted to the grounds in the afternoon and apparently enjoyed their visit immensely. The Show closed at six o'clock after which the exhibitors quickly removed their productions. In the Evening a Ball took place in a floored tent erected on the Home Close, and was extensively patronised.

There must have been some sort of Flower Show before this because the Buckingham Advertiser of 7 June 1873 referred to "Mr Ellis' meadow (better known as the Flower Show Ground)". Ellis was presumably a mistake for Willis.

Amateur Athletic Sports, 1877

This began as a separate event from the Flower Show. It apparently started in 1875, and this is the second report found so far.

Bucks Herald, 26 May

  These sports came off on Whit-Monday, May 21st, under the presidency of Mr. G. R. Greaves, assisted by a committee composed of Messrs. T. Bond, C. Colgrove, A. R. French, G. Hawley, J. Hawley, G. Lee, G. Morecraft, W. Neal, jun., W. Turnham, W. Viccars, T.Sare (hon.sec.), and R. W. Jones (treasurer).  Mr. S. Syratt kindly lent  a field, adjoining the Great Horwood Road, for the occasion, and the attendance, although not equal to that of former years, was, considering the unsettled state of the weather, very good, nearly 700 passing through the gates.  Amongst those present were the Hon. T. F. Fremantle, M.P.; Captain Peach; T. P. Willis, Esq.; M. S. Lowndes, Esq.; &c. Messrs. Midgley and T. Sare were extremely efficient judges, and Mr. A. R. French was starter.
The following are the events and their winners:-
  High Jump, boys under 15- 1st, H. King, 3ft. 8in.; 2nd, E. Judge; 3rd, G. Judge.  5 entries.
  100 Yards’ Flat Race, boys under 15- 1st, H. Baylis; 2nd, E. Allan; 3rd, G. Judge. 8 entries.
  100 Years’ Flat Race, men- 1st, W. Neal, jun.; 2nd, H. Hawtin; 3rd, W. Viccars. 4 entries.
  Broad Jump, boys under 15- 1st, G. Judge, 13ft. 51/2in.; 2nd, H. Baylis, 13ft. 4in.; 3rd, R. Judge, 12ft. 11in.  9 entries.
  Mile Flat Race, men- 1st, A. Williams; 2nd, S. Phillips; 3rd, W. Viccars.  This was a good race four times round the course.  At the finish there was about two yards distance between each of the winners.  Time, 5min. 59secs.  5 entries.
  100 Yards’ Race between Messrs. T. H. Marks and G. Hawley- Mr. Marks having twenty yards start, won by about eight yards.
  Throwing the Cricket Ball- 1st, J. White, Whaddon, 97yds. 10in.; 2nd, H. Phillips, 87ds. 27in.  4 entries.
  Broad Jump, men- 1st, W. Neal; 2nd, H. Hawtin; 3rd, J. White.  Hawtin and White each jumped 16ft. 8in., and Neal 17ft. 3in.  Neal was awarded first prize, and Hawtin and White then jumped to decide the tie.  Hawtin jumped 17ft. 4in., and White 17ft. 2in., the former consequently taking 2nd.  5 entries.
  Quarter-mile Flat Race, men- !st, W. Neal; 2nd, H. Hawtin; 3rd, A Williams.  Neal was handicapped eight yards, but won easily.  Time, 62sec.  5 entries.
  Boys’ Quarter-mile Flat Race- 1st, J. Stairs; 2nd, E. Allen; 3rd, H. Kimble.  Time 81sec.  8 entries.
  High Jump, men- 1st, W. Neal, 4ft. 8in,; 2nd, H. Hawtin, 4ft. 7in., 3rd, J. Royce, 4ft. 4in.  3 entries.
  120 Yards’ Flat Race- Winslow Volunteer Fire Brigade, in uniform- Prizes given by Superintendent and Foreman- 1st, H. Hawtin; 2nd, G. Hawley (Supt.); 3rd, W. Turnham.
  120 Yards’ Hurdle Race, 10 flights- 1st, W. Neal; 2nd, G. Morecraft; 3rd, W. Viccars, Great Horwood.  A very close race, Viccars leading until the last flight.  5 entries.
  Quarter-mile Flat Race, all comers- 1st, J. Russell; 2nd, A. Meehan, Buckingham.
  Tug of War, five aside- Winners, E. Sear, Taylor, Sharp, Viccars, and A. Curtis.  40 entries.
  Three-quarter-mile Steeplechase, brook and fences- 1st, a University running suit, and 10s. (given by Mr. A. R. French), W. Neal; 2nd, G. Morecraft; 3rd, S. Phillips.  Neal headed all the way, clearing the brook twice in good style, and Morecraft going into it once.  Phillips was a bad third. 4 entries.
  200 Yards’ Consolation Race- 1st, T. King; 2nd, E. Corkett; 3rd, A. Curtis.  (4 entries).

Accounts for 1878

Buckingham Advertiser, 5 April 1879

Treasurer’s Account for the Year ending the 25th March, 1879

January 1878.
By Balance at Bank
 “  Ditto in treasurer’s hands
 “  Subscriptions and donations
 “  Gate money
 “  Fireworks
 “  Entrance fees
 “  Special prize by Miss Hubbard
 “  Hall committee
 “  Concerts
            Choral Society
“  Balance in treasurer’s hand

1879, March 28- Produced to a meeting of the committee of the said Society, and allowed by us the following members:- Thomas Newham, M.D., Alfred R. French, Thomas Sare, John Matheson, Joseph Loffler, Henry Collins, M. Selby Lowndes, John Grace, James C. Hawley, Cornelius Colgrove, John Hathaway.

To W. Neal, bill for 1877
             “  Printing and advertising
             “  Fireworks
             “  Hire of poultry pens, &c.
             “  Band
             “  Hire of Tents
             “  Police
             “  Hire of flags
             “  Judges’ fees
             “  Refreshments - Band, Workmen &c.
             “  Ditto - Judges
             “  Bill posting
             “  Fitting up grounds
             “  Ditto concert room
             “  Poultry food
             “  A. R. French’s bill
             “  Norman
             “  Prize money (paid)
             “  Secretary - Disbursements and postage
             “  Ditto, gratuity
             “  Cheque book
             “  Balance in hand

  We would call the attention of the subscribers to the above Society as well as our readers generally, to the fact that £2 18s. 8d. was paid in prizes over and above the amount received in subscriptions and donations.  The subscribers will therefore be satisfied that their subscriptions have all been spent in prizes, and not in incidental expenses.

Poem about the 1879 Flower Show

This was published in the Bicester Herald, 8 August 1879. The author was William Turnham. The race mentioned at the end was the bicycle race, a new addition that year.


Ees, Sir, I thought the Show went very well,
If you’ull listen, I’ull try and tell
            Yott all I can about it.
‘Afore beginning let me just tell you
You ma’nt expect a fine tale, if you do
            You’ll have to goo a’thout it.

It wur, you know, a beautiful fine day;
It seemed a’moast a shaame to leave the hay,
            So bright the sun was shinin;
But off I come an’ when I reached the town
I  met the musicers a romin’ down
            From wheere they had bin dinin’.

There wur, I know, as many as a score,
I think as someone told me there wur moar,
            He told me two-and-twenty.
An’ didn’t they play, my eye! and did’nt they march
All up the town, then through a sort o’ arch
            (‘Twas made of boughs in plenty).

They led the way, I followed wi’ the rest,
Then thro’ a wickut gate went two a–breast;
            But when I raached the wickut
The man what stood there ‘ud n’t let me in;
Sez he, “You ma’nt com thru’ until you’ve bin
            An’ got a shillin’ tickut.”

So back I went, an shoved aside the mob,
An’ sin a man, an’ gin to him a bob,
            An’ he a tickut gin to me:
They took it from me at the wickut gate,
An’ I walked thru’ as proud as king in state.
Ah! sir, you shud ha’ sin me.

But as you didn’t, I’ull let that goo,
An’ try an’ tell you what I sin, an’ who,
            An’ what I thought about ‘um.
I’ll do my best, an’ ‘ull but speak my mind,
An’ if I praise or if some faults I find,
            I tell you I’ll not shout ‘um.

I walked into the fust tent on my right,
An’, just to wash my throat, an’ clear my sight,
            I had a pint of bitter;
So grand it wur, I could not come away
Till I had had another, and must say
            I ne’er for work felt fitter.

Now see me in the next tent; there I found
A lot o’ gentlefolks, a walkin’ round,
            All at the things a starin’;
The place was awful hot, I felt they might
As well let down the tent sides, left and right,
            An’ let the blessed air in.

The flowers in bunches wur uncommon good;
The fruit it looked a’moast too good for food,
            But then I did’nt try it;
Had there bin no one there save me alone,
I fear the sin of Eve had bin my own:
            Ees I’ull not deny it.

The ‘taters an’ all such were not amiss
For this here time (I ner’er knowed one like this,
            So cold, and wet and cheerless);
There were two cowcumbers what cotch my eye,
My mouth it watered as I passed ’um by,
            They were (what is it ?) peerless.

The poultry tent wur next, it made me stare
To see the different sorts as they’d got there,
            Some were uncommon purty;
All sorts there wur, the brahmur an’ the game,
The dorkins, too, an’ lots I cannot name,
            But all smelt rather dirty.

Big ducks there wur, but as I said afore,
The smell wur strong an’ so I sought the door,
            An’ left them to their quackin’.
Into the next tent then I bent my way,
An’ just inside it, sure enough had they
            The children’s flowers bin stackin’.

This wur indeed a very purty sight,
The wild flowers looked as well a’moast, ah, quite
            As well, I thought, as any.
Some wur big lots, an’ some wur small an’ neat,
To look at ‘um, it was indeed a treat,
            An’ then there wur so many.

I heard as how the gentleman what gin
The prizes for’um, when he’d bin an’ sin
The flowers as they had got there,
He was so pleased, he gin another crown,
In prizes five, himself he writ ‘em down,
            I heard, for I wur not there.

Some more things in this tent wur very prime
(That is o’ course, considerin’ the time).
            The ‘taters and the muns [onions?],
The sticks o’ rhubub, an’ the lettices,
The turnips, colleyflowers, an’ cabbages,
            War all uncommon fine ‘uns.

While close the door there were a noble spread
O’ plates o’ eggs, an’ ducks, an’ fowls, all dead
            An’ ready for the table;
There wur a pair o’ ducks along o’ there,
They wur, I know, a’moast as big as geese.
            Ees, sir, this is no fable.

The birds in cages next I went to see,
They felt the heat, poor things, as well as me,
            An’ most an ‘um looked frighted.
But some there wur as had bin showed afore,
They hopped about an’ whistled all the more,
            An’ seemed to be delighted.

I had a look at all, then out I went,
An’ made my way towards the other tent,
            But never went no furder;
The man what kept it got a lot to pay
Their tanners down to hear what he’d to say
            On ”bees,” an’ on “bee murder.”

There might ha’ bin a lot to see inside,
I cannot tell, I let my tanner hide,
            I didn’t care to pay it;
When I had paid my bob to see the show
I thought I could see all; if ‘twas not so
            Why didn’t the bills say it?

I turned away an’ sot awhile to rest,
An’ soon the music calmed my angry breast;
            I love to hear good playin’;
An’ as I’d come to have a holiday,
I sot maybe an hour, an’ heard ‘um play;
            Meanwhile, I wur surveyin’

What wur to me a moast attractive sight;
I mean the ladies in their gowns so tight,
            They wur indeed bewitchin’
I like the fashion, but it seems to me,
Afore they could from bull, or mad dog, flee,
            They’d have to bust some stitchin’.

Another minute, sir, I’ve nearly done;
I stayed, of course, and sin the race run:
            I think it wur a pity,
As them what fust come past the winning post
Broke their machines, their necks a’moast;
            Why hadn’t the Committee

Done in the fust, as arterwards was done,
Gone Furder up, an’ not let fellers run
            Agenst a wall to stop ’um.
“Dead heat” I hear the umpires gin it in,
Maybe it wur, from what I heard an’ sin,
            I think ‘t wur won by Topham.

The fIreworks arterward wur very fine,
I liked ‘um all, but there was one design
            What got great adprobashun:
This, while it pleased us, also thanked us too,
So, sir, I thank an’ hope as I’ve pleased you,
            And end my long orashun.

Winslow, July, 1879.                                          UNWIN SLOWMAN.

Dr Newham's pamphlet

Dr Newham's horticultural advice was published regularly in the Buckingham Advertiser in 1880. "Our Flower Show" was printed by E.J. French.

1880: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 12 Oct
  “OUR FLOWER SHOW.”- An interesting little brochure, with the above title, has been written and published by Dr. Newham, of Winslow, addressed to “Brother Amateur Gardeners of all Classes,” and more especially to cottagers.  Its object is to show how cottage gardening has been and may be further improved by means of “Our Flower Show,” which the author desires to make more popular and useful. All friends of the class he especially addresses will cordially wish him success.

Sport added to the Flower Show, 1883

After a disappointing show in 1882 due to bad weather and lack of produce, it was decided to include sports (which had been held separately from 1875), as the following advert (Buckingham Advertiser, 21 July 1883) shows:

WINSLOW FLOWER SHOW Thursday, JULY 26 Instant.

In addition to the usual attractions, a Tent for the Sale of Useful and Fancy Articles, and Tea and Coffee, in aid of the CHURCH RESTORATION FUND will be there.

The tent of the BUCKINGHAMSHIRE BEE-KEEPERS' ASSOCIATION will be on the Ground and Practical Illustrations of the management of Bees will be given by an Expert.

In the Afternoon commencing at 2.30 o'clock, a series of ATHLETIC SPORTS AND BICYCLE RACES will take place.

THE DANCE ON THE GREEN will be open at 6.30 o'clock (weather permitting.)

The Bowling Green
The Bowling Green, where the dance was always held after the Flower Show

A CONCERT IN THE IRON ROOM will be given, to commence at 7.30 o'clock. Conductor— Mr. G.D. Day

The FULL BAND of the 3rd NORTHAMPTONSHIRE RIFLE VOLUNTEERS has again been engaged.

In the Evening, PROFESSOR WELLS will give his brilliant DISPLAY OF FIREWORKS in Mr. Colgrove's Field at Ten o'clock.

The Gates will open at 1 and close at 6 p.m. Admission from 1 to 4 o'clock 1s., after 4 o'clock 6d. Tickets to be had near the entrance to the Grounds.

A.S. Midgley, Secretary

A new secretary, 1888

Buckingham Advertiser, 19 May 1888

  THE FLOWER SHOW.- A fully attended meeting of the Committee was held at the Bell, on Wednesday evening, under the presidency of T. P. Willis Esq.  After a considerable and hopeful discussion upon the finances at the disposal of the Committee.  Dr. Newham proposed “that the Flower Show be again held on the usual day in July.”  This was seconded by Mr. Mathison, and carried unanimously.  The proposition was supplemented by others which had reference to athletic sports, dance on the green, and other business of the Show, all which are to be carried out in the same way as last year.  The committee accepted with regret the resignation of their Secretary, Mr. Midgley, and appointed his son, Mr. W. N. Midgley, to the office at a fixed salary.  The Committee feel that every effort ought to be made to continue this popular annual holiday, and they trust they may be well supported by non-exhibitors as well as those who compete for prizes, by the former in subscriptions, and by the latter in the beauty and utility of their exhibits.

Bicester Herald, 22 June 1888
  WINSLOW FLORAL AND HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY OFFICIALS have issued the following balance sheet for the year ending March 25, 1888:- Receipts: Balance at bank, £3 2s. 10d. ; subscriptions received. £53 2s. 4d. ; gate money, £31 7s. 9d. ; dance money, £16 18s. 3d. ; balance from athletic sports, £3 1s.4d. ; total, £107 12s.6d.  Expenditure: Tents, two years, £25 2s. 6d. ; Mr. Neal, two years’ bill for refreshments, &c., £3 7s. 4d. ; judges, two years, £2 10s. ; Miss George, stationery, &c., £1 14s. 6d. ; Northampton band, £16 3s. ; bill poster, £1 17s. 6d. ; fitting up ground, £4 12s. 6d. ; police, £1 1s. refreshments for band, &c., £2 16s. 3d. ; incidentals, £2 2s. 3d. ; prizes, £41 10s.; balance at bank, £4 15s. 7d. ; total, £107 12s. 6d. Outstanding liabilities, £15 12s. 10d.

In the early 1890s the Oddfellows started holding their own fete on the Friday after the Thursday of the Flower Show; read more.

The 1897 show

Buckingham Advertiser, 24 July 1897

Winslow Flower Show and Athletic Sports

This annual holiday came off on Thursday and was highly successful ... In response to the Committee's appeal, many of the residents in the town had decorated their houses and business establishments with flags, etc. and several lines of streamers spanned the roads. The show was held, as usual, in the centrally-situate field, belonging to T.P. Willis, Esq. in which the three marquees had been erected to the left of the Sports course, which had been carefully prepared. The Flower Show exhibits filled the two large marquees. There were eighty more entries than last year in the cottagers' classes; whilst those in the amateurs' classes were about the same as last year. Considerable praise is due to the secretary, Mr. A.J. Clear, for the able way in which he discharged the manifold duties of that office.

The interior of the amateurs' tent was most attractive and pleasing. Chief amongst the features was a most lovely group of rare exotics, lent by H.S. Leon, Esq., Bletchley Park, and the centre of the tent was further embellished with the choice stove and greenhouse plants from the conservatories of Mrs. Lambton, Redfield, and T.P. Willis, Esq., those of the former including grand specimens of the eucharis, calpha, agapanthus and palms. At the entrance were the grand stands of roses of Mr. George Prince, of Oxford, Mr. John Mattock of New Headington, and Mr. Parker of Headington. With three such noted growers of the Queen of Flowers it may be taken as guaranteed that the specimens were of the fullest merit, and thanks are due to T.P. Willis, Esq., for his kind liberality in continuing these special prize, the superb stands being the chief attraction of the tent.

1898: Flower Show concert at The Bell

The 1900 show

Leighton Buzzard Observer, 31 July 1900
  Winslow was en fete on Thursday being the occasion of the 26th Exhibition of the Floral and Horticultural Society combined with the Athletic Sports and Cycle Races.
  The weather was just right - fine without being so excessively hot as in the earlier part of the week.
  The amateurs’ tent included a lovely display of roses for which special prizes were given by Mr. T. P. Willis- a very fine display of ferns and foliage plants mainly contributed by Mrs. H. R. Lambton of Winslow and Mr. H. S. Leon of Bletchley Park- some exquisite grapes from Mrs. Lambton’s- a fine show of nectarines and peaches by Mr. Thos. Hedges, of Heywood House, Stewkley- and a grand collection of fruit from Lord Cottesloe.
  The cottagers tent included a grand assortment of vegetables, more particularly potatoes (for which special prizes were given by Mr. Wigley) and peas.
  Other attractions were the honey competition with separate classes for amateurs and cottagers - and a pretty show of cage birds sent by Mr. E. Mullis of Winslow not for competition.
  The sports evoked great interest; the cycle races were remarkably well contested, the riders coming from a wide radius.  Mr. Brinklow of Aylesbury secured Captain Lambton’s challenge cup for cycling and Mr. S. W. Midgley of Winslow the challenge cup for running.
  Hurdle racing and donkey racing were two popular features of the sports.
  The Banbury Rifle Volunteer Band played a most excellent selection of music during the day under the leadership of Mr. Fred Webb.
  The day was wound up by a dance on the picturesque bowling green when there were over 1,000 persons present.

New venue

The Show moved to a new venue in 1905, where the Arboretum is now.

Buckingham Advertiser, 22 July 1905
  The success which attended the 31st annual exhibition of this society, on Thursday, the 20th inst., most certainly justified the committee in its decision to continue the holiday – indeed, it would have been a great blow to the town and immediate district if it had been abandoned, as unhappily has been the case at Buckingham.  The business establishments were closed for the half-day, and, thanks to a continuance of the seasonable weather, the attendance of visitors was large and enjoyment was paramount.  The show this year was held in the old Cricket Ground, kindly lent by Mr. N. McCorquodale, and it was in every way most suitable for the gathering, being very private and practically situate in the centre of the town, and on the opposite side of the High Street to the field hitherto placed at the disposal of the committee.  Two marquees were allotted to the exhibits in the flowers and vegetables, and near here for the first time Mr. F. Benbow was allowed to serve tea, which was an innovation highly appreciated.  In another tent at the opposite side of the field, alcoholic beverages were sold by Mr. Geo. Hancock, of the Bull, at moderate charges.  The centre of the field was roped-in for the sports, and its preparations testified to the time the committee had spent upon it.  The amateurs’ tent was well filled with excellent specimens.

Buckingham Advertiser, 21 July 1906
Entrance by the POST OFFICE.
    The Gardens of Winslow Hall may also be visited on payment of an extra charge of 6d., Proceeds to be devoted to the Funds of the Society.
The BOWLING GREEN will be open at 6.30 p.m. (weather permitting) for the DANCE ON THE GREEN,
Dancing to commence at 7 p.m. sharp. Admission 6d. each. In the event of its being wet the Dance will take place in the Oddfellows’ Hall, admission 1s.
The WINSLOW TOWN BAND will play on the Show Ground and for the Dance.
REFRESHMENTS will be provided. There will also be a Tea Tent.
The Gate will open at 1 and close at 6 p.m. Admission from 1 till 4 o’clock, 1s.; after 4 o’clock, 6d.
ENTRIES close for Show, Tuesday, July 17th, for Sports, Thursday, July 19th.

Buckingham Advertiser, 13 July 1907
THURSDAY, JULY 25th, 1907,
In WINSLOW HALL, CRICKET GROUND (kindly lent by N. McCorquodale, Esq.)
Entrance by the POST OFFICE.
(The Gardens of Winslow Hall may also be visited on payment of an extra charge of 6d., proceeds to be devoted to the funds of the Society).
During the Afternoon there will be a series of ATHLETIC SPORTS; also DRIVING & “Best Turn-Out” Competitions.
The BOWLING GREEN will be open at 6.30 p.m. (weather permitting) for the DANCE ON THE GREEN,
Dancing to commence at 7 p.m. sharp.  Admission 6d. each. (In the event of its being wet the Dance will take place in the Oddfellows’ Hall, admission 1s.)
The well-known OLNEY SILVER PRIZE BAND Will Play on the Show Ground and for the Dance.
REFRESHMENTS will be provided.  There will also be a TEA TENT.
The Gates will open at 1 and close at 6 p.m.  Admission from 1 till 4 o’clock, 1s., after 4 o’clock, 6d.
Entries close for Show, Tuesday, July 16; for Sports, Thursday, July 18.

Buckingham Advertiser, 11 July 1908
Of the Winslow Floral and Horticultural Society, will be held
On THURSDAY, JULY 23rd, 1908,
In WINSLOW HALL CRICKET GROUND (Kindly lent by N. McCorquodale, Esq.)
During the Afternoon there will be a Series of ATHLETIC SPORTS Under A.A.A. Laws; also
The BOWLING GREEN will be open at 6.30 p.m. (weather permitting) for the DANCE ON THE GREEN,
Dancing to commence at 7 p.m. sharp. Admission 6d. each.  (In the event of its being wet the Dane will take place in the Oddfellows’ Hall, Admission 1s).
The well-known WOLVERTON DETACHMENT PRIZE BAND, Of the Bucks Battalion of the Territorial Force (Bandmaster Mr. H. J. Brooks),
Will play on the Show Ground and for the Dance.
Refreshments will be provided.  There will also be a Tea Tent.
The Gates will open at 1 and close at 6.30 p.m.  Admission from 1 till 4 o’clock, 1s., after 4 o’clock, 6d.
Entries close for Show, TUESDAY, July 14th, to A. J. CLEAR, Secretary.

Buckingham Advertiser, 29 July 1911
This annual event was held on Thursday, July 27th ... the town was enlivened at mid-day by the Band marching from the station to the Market Square playing the march "Patriotic". The show was again held in the Cricket Ground (kindly lent by Mr. Norman McCorquodale), which is centrally situate and most admirably adapted for such a gathering.

HORTICULTURAL AND FLORAL. The entries in this department numbered about 600, but there was a large falling off from that number in the exhibits, owing no doubt to the drought ... This year a special feature had been introduced in special classes for poultry and eggs, and also prizes for bouquets and sweet peas for the children ... A new feature was the class for decorative roses, in which Mr. Geo. Pass was an easy first with a monstre [sic] branch of climbing rose ... It is a great pleasure in this connection to chronicle the success of Mr. John Guest (Master of the Workhouse) in a number of classes ...

THE SPORTS. These have formed the chief feature of the programme for some years past, and latterly the committee have introduced new and important items in classes for harness and driving and jumping ... the number of spectators round the roped-in course was large, and they appeared to enjoy to the full the competitions in the various events, which were confined to a six-mile radius. The horse classes created special interest.

THE BAND. The Wolverton Detachment Prize Band of the Bucks Battalion Territorial Force had been engaged for the day, and played excellent selections of music at intervals on the show ground, under the conductorship of Bandmaster H.J. Brooks.

REFRESHMENTS. Teas were supplied in a tent beneath the welcome shade of the trees by Mr. F. Benbow, whose catering, as usual, was highly appreciated. Alcoholic refreshments were supplied in the tent by Mr. Hancock, of the Bull Inn. At night a large company assembled on the Bowling Green and enjoyed excellent dances to the music of the Wolverton Prize Band.

1913: Controversy

Apparently Norman McCorquodale withdrew the use of the Cricket Ground. The 1912 Show was in Dene Hill Field (the playing field of the "New Schools") and the adjacent tennis courts, and in 1913 the indoor events were in the school building. A suggestion to hold the show on the same day as the Shire Horse Society show was turned down. According to the Buckingham Advertiser (26 July 1913):

Some doubt was felt early in the year whether Winslow Flower Show should be continued, owing to shortness of funds, but the large attendance and the great success achieved in the several departments on Thursday, certainly justified the committee in their decision to retain the holiday. A new feature was that of holding the Flower Show in the adjoining Council Schools, and special thanks are due to Mr. Pass (head-master) for the excellent arrangements made by him in this respect, whilst at the same time it saved the funds about £16 in tent hire.

There was then heated correspondence in the Advertiser between various pseudonymous writers. "Fortitude" was evidently a member of the Show Committee and the Board of Guardians, and "Aster" wasn't. Here are some extracts:

"Aster" (2 Aug): Are we to bow the knee of humiliation to one or two gods (at least in their own estimation) of the town and ask the favour of the use of three or four acres of land just for five or six hours on one day in 12 months, and failing this to bow the knee to the inevitable and rank with the conquered? It seems utterly absurd. There are others in the town who, if they were only approached, would do as much, and most likely more, than what has been done by our local noblemen before, and the public be permitted what they a year or two ago were refused. The one high day of the year — surely the committee will see that this is not done for absolutely ... There has also been strong comment the last year or two about the master of a certain institution taking so many prizes at the show from gardens which are kept up by the ratepayers, who are taxed heavily for the up-keep and yet have to compete against fruit and vegetables sent to the show from these gardens ...

"Fortitude" (9 Aug) ... "the master of a certain institution" and his assistant, conceiving the injustice of spending the ratepayers' money on seeds for show, purchased the same privately and utilised the intrinsic value therefrom to feed and comfort the officers and inmates, thereby saving, instead of wasting ratepayers' money ...

"Aster" (16 Aug) ... Let me tell "Fortitude" I have always had the show's welfare at heart — long before he knew there was such a place as Winslow.

"Amicus" (23 Aug) ... Meanwhile there is in Winslow at the present time a spirit of envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness; and in my opinion the sooner all parties concerned agree to bury the hatchet and endeavour to live in peace and quietness one with another, the better for all concerned.

The Show went ahead for the 40th time in 1914 with some additions: jumping & driving competitions, a military tournament by the Royal Bucks Hussars and a lawn tennis match. The gate was up, but it was the last Show before the start of the First World War.

Resumption in 1920

Buckingham Advertiser, 17 July 1920

WINSLOW Flower Show, Galloway Races and Dance on the Bowling Green
July 22nd, 1920,
Wolverton Silver Band.
Beekeeping Demonstration.
Dead Poultry & Eggs.
Gates open at One p.m., close at 6. Races commence 2 p.m. Admission to Show, Races, & Sports, 2/-; Motors 5/-, Vehicles 2/6.
Dance commences 7 p.m., admission 1/-.

End of a men's race
This undated photo looks as if it shows the Flower Show sports when they were held on Dene Hill

1924: Return after a year's break

2nd prize in the mile handicap
This certificate was won by Fred Young. The carvers were worth £1

The Show was not held in 1923 because the Bowling Green was not available for the usual dance. It returned in 1924 with the Flower Show in the School and the dance on the Bowling Green.

Buckingham Advertiser, 12 July 1924


During the afternoon there will be ATHLETIC SPORTS including:
Relay Race, Donkey Race, & c.
Jumping Competition (open) for Horses of any height, Ditto 2 miles radius, and Pony Class (open) 14 hands & under.
Polo Pony and Musical Chairs.
The Gates will open at 7 p.m. (weather permitting) for a Dance on the Bowling Green.
Entrance through Vicarage Lane. Dancing to commence at 7.30 p.m. sharp.
Admission 1s. 0d.
The well-known LEIGHTON BOY SCOUTS BAND will play on the Show Ground and for the Dance.
The gates will open at 1 p.m. and close at 6 p.m. Admission to Show and Sports 1s/2d each (including the Tax), Children under 12, 6d. A roped enclosure with seats will be provided.

In 1925 the Show went back to what was now called the Old Flower Show Field. After making a loss for two years, it was decided to suspend the floral & horticultural section in 1926, and the event had to be renamed the Winslow Sports. The full programme resumed in 1927 with the Flower Show in the Oddfellows' Hall and the Sports in the Winslow Hall grounds ("Old Cricket Ground") as in 1910-11. In 1928 the Flower Show returned to the School and the Sports, now "under A.A.A. laws" to Dene Hill Field "by permission of N. McCorquodale Esq." so presumably it means Home Close. The dance moved to the Sports Club in Park Road as the old Bowling Green had become part of the churchyard. In 1929 they were back in "Winslow Hall Field", meaning the old Cricket Ground, and new attractions included a fancy dress parade from the Market Square and motor cycle events. In 1930 they added fire brigade competitions.

1931: The fiftieth show

Winners included:

Geranium: W. Banner
Bouquet: Mrs G. Rowe
Sweet peas: S. Bradbury
Coloured round potatoes: H. Bradbury
Cabbages: E.J. Head
Pod of peas: A.J. Lanfear
Collection of vegetables: H.C. Read
Best allotment: G. Beckett

Plain needlework: Mrs J.W. Ingram
Fancy needlework: Miss G.D. Stock
Plain cake: Mrs E. Campbell
Queen wasps: F. Stonell
Bouquet: Mrs A. Walker
Floral decorations: V.H. Walker
Plate of cherries: Henry Stock
Red currants: Mrs Greaves
Black currants: A.E. Leapingwell
Six turnips: J. Colgrove

Bouquet: Jocelyn Rowe
Knitted socks: Eileen Fruin
Drawing of fowl: Donald Walker
Raffia work: Kenneth Walker
150 yards handicap (boys u-12): B. Adkins
100 yards handicap: R.O. Langley
50 yards handicap (girls u-7): P. Dobbs
Sack race: J.W. Ingram
220 yards handicap: A.T.G. Mead
100 yards handicap (girls u-11): J. Rowe
Half-mile handicap: J.T. Beckett (Wolverton AAC)
250 yards handicap (boys u-16): A. Wilson
Men's obstacle race: W. Saving
50 yards handicap (boys u-7): M. Holdom
V.C. race (motor cycles): R. Gibbard
Umbrella & cigar race (motor cycles): C.W. Curtis

Dagenham Girl Pipers leading a paradeThere was no Show in 1932 in order to raise funds for the following year. That did not materialise, and the sequence of shows going back to 1875 came to an end. The British Legion held a Whitsun Fete in 1932, then a Flower Show in 1933 in the St Laurence Room. In 1934 it was continued by the Legion and the Women's Institute, moved back to Winslow Hall Field, and included a performance by the Dagenham Girl Pipers. In 1935 there was a children's fancy dress parade, bowling for a pig, a gymnastic display and a fire brigades competition.

The photo on the right from the Living Archive shows the Dagenham Girl Pipers at New Bradwell.

1936: 3rd British Legion Flower Show

Buckingham Advertiser, 1 Aug 1936

Winslow Flower Show — Fine weather and a fine display — The return of the Pipers — increased entry

... The fact that the entries, which numbered 350 in the horticultural section, showed a substantial increase, suggests that with adequate public support and financial backing, the Legion's aim [to revive the old Flower Show] may in time be accomplished. This year the innovation was made of extending the radius of entry to include over twenty villages in the Winslow neighbourhood, and the decision resulted not only in a larger exhibition, but also in additional competitive interest and a higher quality ... Especially impressive was the charming display of sweet peas, and in the fruit section the prize-winning currants and gooseberries were notable exhibits ... There was keen competition for a Silver Challenge Cup presented by Mr. Norman McCorquodale, O.B.E., and this was carried off by Mr. E. Head ... The Winslow Branch of the Women's Institute assisted the success of the horticultural show by organizing, in conjunction with it, a handicrafts section, which was in charge of Mrs. F. Bull and Mrs. Saunders ... The state of the ground had been seriously affected by the rain; but an interesting sports programme, for which there was a large entry, was satisfactorily carried through. Chief among the attractions apart from the show was the return visit of the Dagenham Girl Pipers [who] created a picturesque scene in the streets of Winslow by leading a procession to the grounds for the opening ceremony.

Unfortunately the British Legion made a substantial loss and decided to abandon the Show, and it remained in abeyance until 1948.

1948: another revival

Buckingham Advertiser, 31 July 1948

Winslow revives Flower Show — successful sports ground event — children's sports and fete — seventy years ago recalled

--- The show, with children's sports and fete, was promoted jointly by the Winslow School Assocation and Sports Club and was held in the Park Road Sports Ground, which has undergone praiseworthy transformation through voluntary efforts ... The entries for the show, numbering between 400 and 500, so far exceeded expectations that an additional tent had to be provided at the last moment ... Mr. A. Rolfe (Chairman), at the outset of the proceedings, pointed out that the two local organizations had set out to revive the Winslow Flower Show, which a few years ago was a very successful annual event. They had been very fortunate in having such a body of helpers and Mr. Hall, their secretary, had been indefatigable ... Colonel Selby Lowndes said that it was 70 years since he had [first] attended a Winslow Flower Show and that in those days it was one of the biggest shows in the county of Bucks. He recalled that there was a great bicycle race which used to start at Adstock and end at the Bell ...

The event was planned again for 1949 but did not happen due to the demise of the Sports Club.

Winslow Shire Horse Society

Winslow Stud Horse Society was founded in 1886 and held its first annual show and sale of foals on 3 Oct 1888. The shows were in the Flower Show Field. In 1891 it started to be called the Shire Horse Society to reflect its main interest. The Secretary was originally Cornelius Colgrove of Shipton Farm, then A.J. Clear. A luncheon at The Bell followed the show. Like the Flower Show, it moved to Winslow Hall grounds in 1910. The show continued during the First World War:

Buckingham Advertiser, 14 Sep 1918
The 31st annual show of foals, yearling fillies, and 2-year-old fillies was held on Wednesday in a field kindly lent by Mr. N. McCorquodale, and conveniently situate near the centre of the town.

When the Society celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1936 it claimed to be the oldest such society in Great Britain. The 1939 show was cancelled because of the outbreak of the Second World War, but shows resumed immediately after the War.

Buckingham Advertiser, 29 Sep 1945
Winslow Shire Horse Society's show, one of the oldest agricultural horse-shows in the country, was revived on Friday after lapsing for a period on account of wartime conditions. Entries were of a high standard although not numerically equal to the pre-war average. The show was held in the Old Flower Show Field, kindly lent by Miss Matthews and Mr. H. Brazier.

Interest in shire horses declined rapidly as they were replaced by tractors, and the 1950 show was cancelled because of lack of entries. The Society continued to carry out its other role of hiring a stallion each year, but the show became part of Buckingham Show from 1951.

Horse Show and Gymkhana

This completely different event started on 16 Sep 1944. It was initially in aid of the Duke of Gloucester's Red Cross Fund, and the secretary was the vet R.R. Bugg. It became an annual event.

Buckingham Advertiser, 13 Aug 1949

Winslow Horse Show and Gymkhana further proved its well-established popularity among the younger events on Saturday when the old cricket field (kindly lent by Brig. and Mrs. McCorquodale) provided the usual pleasant setting. The Winslow event has a friendly, intimate character and gives plenty of scope for the younger riders. This year the proceeds were for the Winslow Public Recreation Ground and Councillor A. Cox thanked the promoters through the loud speaker ... During the afternoon there was a colourful parade of the Whaddon Chase Foxhounds ... Mr. Bob Turnham very ably provided the music and announcements with his new apparatus. The Folly Inn Caterers, Adstock, had made admirable arrangements for the buffet, luncheons and licensed bar.

It continued until 1953, and was revived in 1955 to raise money for the Church Bells Fund. It was this, rather than the Flower Show, which was the direct ancestor of the present Winslow Show. A horticultural section was added in the 1960s, as well as handicrafts and various agricultural activities, and the Show was run by the Oddfellows.

Horses and horse boxes in Home Close
The Gymkhana in the 1960s; photo by the late Jean Dale

See also:

Copyright 22 June, 2024