1922 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

In 1922 the firm had three adjacent plots (84-86) on Lime Avenue for the three day show, which ran from 23rd to 25th May, inclusive. They displayed a wide range of products including a 18ft. by 10ft. patent construction span-roof greenhouse with ventilator and wood lath blind on one side; 3ft. by 7ft. 6in. iron and tile staging; 3ft. by 7ft. 6in. wood stage; 12ft. by 7ft. plant protector with lifting ridge (Model No: 228); 8ft. by 6ft. (Model No: F2) and 3ft. by 4ft. frame (Model No: F12); 4ft. by 6ft. span-roof frame (Model No: F3); No. 1 pattern garden seat; No. 2 pattern garden seat; three Quorn Boilers – Nos. 36, 46 and 56; No 1. Loughborough Boiler with 4inch pipes laid out in the span-roof greenhouse; No. 1 Loughborough boiler with motor house apparatus; Nos. 2 and 3 Loughborough boilers (boilers only).

The span-roof greenhouse was built specifically for the show, with Pilkington’s delivering the glass straight to the show ground, from their London warehouse. Not only was it built specifically for the show but Messenger’s treated it exactly like a customer greenhouse, with a detailed estimate including a carriage of 100 miles from London. Their assumption was that it would be sold at the show, dismantled and re-assembled at the customers’ site. They calculated the cost (to them) of the greenhouse (including frame, doors and glass, rain water pipes, ventilation tackle, locks, etc.) was £29 4s. 8d. They added a mark-up of 125%, £1 10s. for labour (assembling, disassembling and re-assembling); £1 6s. for carriage, giving a total of £68 11s. 6d., to which they added contingency (2½%) and National Insurance (2½%), giving a final total of £70 5s. This was rounded up to give a selling price of £75, although it was offered at the show for a discounted price of £68. The No. 1 pattern garden seat was priced at £5 7ss. 6d., including a 10% margin. The iron and tile staging was priced at £21 5s., again including a 10% margin. They allowed a 10% discount on the show frames and in some cases even allowed the same discount on frames ordered at the show, which appears to have been a rare occurrence for the firm.

Their standard practice was that the design of the stands was decided at Loughborough where the components were manufactured and/or assembled, then sent to the show ground “flat packed” for assembly and final preparation by a small team of two or three of Messenger’s fitters. In 1922 this involved two individuals; Mr. R. Cripwell, who went to Chelsea having previously been working on a job for Mr. J. Arthur Pyne of Belmont, No. 39, Honor Oak Road, Forest Hill, which involved painting & repairing a plant house & stove erected by them in 1897; Mr. S. Bland who went to Chelsea having previously been installing heating apparatus for Messrs. Dashwood & Partners at Ducal Studios Ltd., Kinema Studios & Works, Beaconsfield. They normally lodged locally during the preparation, which in 1922 was in Stockwell, south-west London. This preparation was normally overseen by a Loughborough-based foreman, in this instance Mr. Charles Wightman, who typically stayed for the show and then helped with the removal afterwards. Those items that had not been sold were dismantled and returned to Loughborough; otherwise they liked to ship the sold products directly to the customer. The 18ft. by 10ft. span-roof greenhouse was eventually sold in October 1923 to Mr. T.S. Rowley of The Knowle, Ratcliffe Road, Leicester,[1] who was a member of the hosiery and knitwear firm of R. Rowley & Co.

The number and type of product catalogues sent to the show varied slightly from year to year. In 1922 they had 200 blind catalogues (in red); 50 Quorn Boiler lists (in buff); 25 motor roofs (?); 100 horticultural catalogues and price lists (in green); 200 frame lists; 250 show specific price cards; 12 name cards; 250 Loughborough boiler lists.


  1. Leicestershire Record Office ref: DE2121/51.