1926 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

1926 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

The 1926 show reverted back to three days and was originally scheduled for 18th-20th May inclusive; however due to the General Strike, it was postponed for one week. The initial decision to postpone was made by the RHS on the afternoon of 11th May, with the firm being formally notified by telegraph on 12th May, after they had started on erecting their stand. The postponement was tentatively for one week, with a final decision being made on the 18th May, the day when the show was originally planned to open. As the General Strike by then had finished, there was a general view that show would go ahead on the 25th. As a precaution the RHS provided a number of night patrols on the lead up to the show as the police would not offer any protection.

 

1926 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

The firm was allocated space H, a 30ft. square site, at a cost of £37-10s. The site, not one of their choosing, was at least free of trees and lay between two other exhibitors – Messrs. Skinner Board & Co[1], of Bedminster, Bristol, known for their wire tension greenhouses and novel glide-house for temporarily placing over crops and Messrs. William Wood & Sons of Taplow, well known for their garden sundries, who normally displayed a collection of garden tools, mowing machines and greenhouses.

 

1926 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

Due to the smaller plot size Messenger’s changed their display slightly, this time deciding to display a 25ft. 6in. by 12ft. span-roof greenhouse, suitably modified for display purposes with entrance on one side and gable or lead flat over one door facing the path and another door at the other end. Their sketch plan of the site is at variance with their printed show price list. The plan besides the large greenhouse shows an amateur 12ft. by 8ft. span-roof greenhouse, No 657 12ft. by 7ft. span-roof frame, a No. 654 6ft. by 4ft. span-roof frame, a No. 661 4ft. by 3ft. lean-to Violet frame, one seat, three Quorn boilers (Nos. 36, 46 and 56), three Loughborough boilers (Nos. 1, 2 and 3) and a No. 310A coke crusher with stand. The price card has 2 Quorn boilers (Nos. 36 and 46), 2 Loughborough boilers (Nos. 2 and 3), 2 garden seats (Nos. 1 and 2) and a No. 657 8ft. by 7ft. span-roof frame, as well as the normal stages and blinds.

 

1926 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

Although the General Strike did not appear to directly affect the firm’s own preparations, they impacted one of their suppliers – Pilkington’s who because of picketing could not deliver the glass, which was ready and awaiting dispatch. The original plan was to deliver it directly to Loughborough, but when this failed they made alternative arrangements to deliver straight to site at Chelsea, but it had still not arrived by the time they started erecting the greenhouses. Pilkington’s eventually agreed to deliver the glass to site on 13th May. Obviously Chelsea was not the only job impacted by Pilkington’s picket lines, they firm had a number of others that were held up, including Mr. G.S.L. Whitelaw of Court Hill, Letcombe Regis, where they were erecting a 30ft. by 12ft. span-roof greenhouse.

This appears to have been a successful show; they received a number of appointments that lead to orders, one from Lady Richardson, of Harrington House[2], No. 13, Kensington Palace Gardens, now the residence of the Ambassador of the Russian Federation. The original appointment set-up for 10am on 31st May was to discuss a 25ft. by 12ft. span-roof or ¾ span-roof greenhouse, in the event an order was placed on 23rd July for a 30ft. by 10ft. span-roof glasshouse with partition. Another appointment was made by Mrs. S.G. Brown[3], living at No. 52, Kensington Park Road, London, who on 16th July ordered a Winter Garden, Carnation House and Peach Cover to be erected at her estate known as “Browlands”, at Walton Lane, Shepperton. According to a 1932 newspaper article Mrs. Brown at the time owned a zoo at Shepperton, edited a business magazine and was a director of two large business concerns and an avid orchid grower[4]. Another inquiry that lead to a significant order was from Sir William Currie who at the time had just taken out a lease[5] on Dinton Hall, Upton Road, Dinton near Aylesbury; eventually purchasing Dinton Hall and it’s estates in 1934. Sir William became chairman of the P&O Shipping Line in 1938. At a meeting with Sir William Currie at Dinton Hall on 6th July he ordered a 19ft. 3in. by 16ft. span-roof greenhouse and a 19ft. 3in. x 7ft. 4½in. sunk house with sliding lights[6].

They also received a query from a Mr. Charles A. Bradley, who was visiting from Sydney Australia and interested in both a conservatory and greenhouse. They sold the show amateur span-roof greenhouse, with boarding, stages and heating to Mr. William Gooch of Stretton Lodge, Weybridge, Surrey, for a total price of £47 15s., unfixed. They also sold a number of plant protectors and span-roof frames.

 

1926 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

Following the show, the RHS Council came up with two proposals for the following year’s show; the first was that the show should be held Tuesday to Thursday with judging held on the first morning and the general public admitted on the first afternoon as usual; the other proposal was to hold the show Wednesday to Friday, with judging held on the Tuesday afternoon, fellows admitted on the Wednesday morning and the public from Wednesday afternoon. The firm’s response was that they wished the show to continue Tuesday to Thursday, but requested that medals should be awarded for sundry horticultural exhibits.

 

References:

  1. Skinner Board & Company Limited was established in 1894 and became a Limited Company in 1947. They started as horticultural engineers and went on to become mechanical services engineers. They went into liquidation in 2009.
  2. The house was built for Lord Harrington in the 1850s at a cost of £15,000 and is one of the largest houses in the road. Lady Richardson’s husband, Sir Lewis Richardson, a South African merchant, purchased the house in 1924 and spent over £25,000 on alterations designed by Sidney Parvin.
  3. Alice Mary Herbert Russell Brown was the wife of Sidney George Brown (1873–1948), electrical engineer and inventor, was born in Chicago to English parents. On 15th January 1908, he married Alice Mary Herbert Russell only daughter of the Revd Charles John Stower, of Sudbury, Suffolk. He formed the Telegraph Condenser Company in 1906 to manufacture and market his inventions and formed a new company, S. G. Brown Ltd, in 1911, to manufacture telephone equipment. With his wife’s assistance, he designed a telephone relay, an improved receiver, and an effective loudspeaker (the Browns being first to use this name for the device). By 1914 his businesses had expanded to employ over a thousand people. Later in life Mrs Brown was largely responsible for the administration and financial control of her husband’s companies. During the Second World War the Admiralty took charge of S. G. Brown Ltd. He retired in 1943 and sold his interest in the Telegraph Condenser Company to a syndicate, and S. G. Brown Ltd, including all gyro compass and radio telegraphy rights, to the Admiralty. In retirement they moved to Brownlands, Salcombe Regis, Sidmouth, Devon, where he devoted time mainly to cultivating orchids. He on 7th August 1948 and was survived by his wife.
  4. Evening Post, Rōrahi CXIV, Putanga 30, 4 Hereturikōkā 1932
  5. Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies archive reference D63/6/4
  6. Leicestershire Record Office ref: DE2121/52.