1931 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

For the 1931 show held between 20th and 22nd May inclusive, the firm had another 37ft. by 20ft. site on the east side of Monument Road; apparently the same space as they had in 1929 and opposite handed to that in 1930. They decided that they couldn’t improve on the previous year’s exhibition stand and displayed a dry glazed 20ft. by 12ft. patent construction span-roof greenhouse, with small squares, a boarded base, part iron staging with fibre cement sheets, part wood slatted staging and wood lath blinds; a 12ft. by 8ft. dry glazed amateur span-roof greenhouse with boarded base and wood slatted staging to both ends; a No. 662 8ft. by 6ft. span-roof frame; a No. 654 8ft. by 6ft. span-roof frame; a No. 657 8ft. by 7ft. span-roof frame; No. 664 peach case with sloping front (4ft. at top and 6ft. at base) suitable for a 10ft. high back wall; Nos. 26 and 46 Quorn boilers; Nos. 2 and 3 Loughborough boilers; No. 1 Loughborough boiler with heating pipes (Plan B) suitable for an amateur greenhouse; No. 301A coke crusher with stand; Nos. 1 and 7 garden seats.

 

1931 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

During the show they had around 35 enquiries, of which only three appear to have resulted in direct sales, eighteen requested catalogues, eight required estimates and five wanted appointments.

 

1931 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

Mrs. Browne of Godalming bought 3 sets of 10ft. by 8ft. blinds[1] and pulleys for £11 7s. 6d. with 15s. for packaging and carriage. Mr. H.T. Hockey of Walt-Ham-Sal, No. 49, Barton Road, Cambridge, ordered a 15ft. by 12ft. span-roof greenhouse, without staging and No. 2 Loughborough Boiler, without pipes on 23rd September. Several of the enquiries only required copies of the various catalogues; a few giving potential leads, such as from Mr. W. Mason who was gardener at Langton Hall, when the firm installed a span-roof carnation house in 1927. He had subsequently moved onto to be gardener at Gorse Hill[2], Hook Heath, Woking, and suggested contacting the owner. He also suggested contacting the owner of Painshill Park, Guildford. If they did pursue these, nothing appears to have resulted from their efforts.

 

1931 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

The logistics of getting to the show, setting up, exhibiting and finally dismantling the show stands and exhibits were fairly complex process that often started as early as February. There was the interaction with the RHS; ensuring that applications are in on time; paying fees by the deadline; deciding upon the list of exhibits; designing the stand; getting it approved by the RHS; ensuring that the various RHS signage rules were adhered to, such as the size of name cards, show-boards, cards, etc; determining show prices; preparing the exhibits at the factory; ensuring the site is ready; dispatching the exhibits to site on time; dispatching ancillary items such as iron posts and letters for signage, table for inside greenhouse, table cloths; organising printing of catalogues and show cards; dispatching them to site; organising and paying for plants, gravel, chippings etc., for the stand. In many ways Messenger treated the show in exactly the same way as they would any normal customer, with the exception of there was no option for negotiating any flexibility with the dates. In addition items, there is always a large number of much smaller items that are required for erection, fixing and finishing and had to be sent off at the same time. In 1931 this list included 12 pit light handles; 200ft. cord for blinds; 38 brass hooks; 4 cord cleats; 1 brass puller; 2 brass cord cleats; 1 brass cord eyelet; 10 brass screws for door hinges; 1 brass latch and 12 screws; 1 dozen 3in. 5/16 coach bolts and washers; 4 dozen 2½in. No. 14 screws; 2 dozen 3in. No 12. Screws; 2 dozen 2in. No. 14 screws; 1 junior lock furniture; 8 long spout bolts; 12 short spout bolts; 2 dozen 4in. No 18 screws; 2 dozen 3½in. No. 18 screws; 5 dozen 3in. No. 18 screws; 2 dozen 2½in. No. 18 screws; 3 dozen 2in. No. 18 screws; 8 dozen 1½in. No. 18 screws; 4 dozen 1¼in. No. 12 screws; 6 dozen 1¼in. No. 10 screws; 4 dozen 1in. No. 10 screws; 3 dozen 1in. No. 8 screws; 3lbs. 2½in. oval brads; 1lb. 2in. oval brads; 1lbs. 1½in. oval brads; 1lb. 3in. nails; 1lb. 2in. Nails; 30 gallons spout screws; bolts and coach screws for framing in shop; 36 copper clips; 2 quarts white lead; 2 gallons raw oil; ¾ gallon boiled oil; 1½ pints turps; 1 lb. black paint; 2 lbs. red paint, 7 lbs. green paint 1 lb. of white enamel for touching up the garden seats, 7 lbs. putty, 6 dusters for cleaning glass, 2 small trestles, 3 planks, 2 small ladders, 1 ordinary ladder, 3 packets of horticultural catalogues and price lists, 50 combined lists, 100 Loughborough boiler lists, 100 Loughborough boiler leaflets, 50 blind lists, 100 ???? lists, 5 name cards. The RHS planned to complete the marking out the sites by Tuesday 5th May, therefore site preparation could started 6th, thus the exhibits, fixtures, fittings, catalogue, etc., were loaded onto a Bee’s Transport lorry on Tuesday 5th May, ready for dispatch early Wednesday morning.

 

1931 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

It took three men two weeks, (with an additional fitter joining them for two days to help build the boilers[3]) working every-day to complete the exhibitions. They worked a total of 435 man hours, across the fourteen days, normally working 10½ hours days. On Saturday 9th May, two worked 8½ hours; the other 4 and on Sunday, 17th May when all three worked 8½ hours. All three men worked upto the eve of the show, although two attended the show, whilst the third (R. Partridge) returned home to Loughborough. Whilst it took two weeks and over four hundred hours to erect the exhibits it only took five days and two men 86 hours to dismantle, pack and see it onto the lorry. On Sunday 24th, having worked for at least the previous 18 days the two men took their first day off. Over the 23-day period (6th May until 28th May), they worked at total 592½ hours, with Charles Wightman, working 218½ hours, W.E. Button 199½, R. Partridge 151½ and S. Bland 23.

Despite this apparent exhaustive list, the on-site fitters requested a number additional items be dispatched from the factory, including 16 bolts for angle iron, 8 brass screws for door hinges, 1 hook for ventilation hinge, 1 plate for ventilation hinge, 2 dozen 1¼in. No. 18 screws, a 4 wire handle for the boilers, ¼lb. small brass springs for glazing small squares in front lights, It was apparent normal practice for the fitters to purchase small items locally, as the demand required, and expense[4] them on their time sheets. In 1931 these included 10s. for granite chippings[5], 2s. 4½d. for a broom, 10d. for black paint, 1s. 2d. for green paint, 7½d for golf paint, 1s 6d for terebine[6] and 1s. for the hire of a hand barrow.

Allocating workmen to the show could be a demanding process because they not only had to fit around existing customer work schedules, but working at the show was seen as a perk, and on occasions there was some petty jealousies regarding who attended. One example was a Mr. J.A. Kerfoot who wrote to Mr. Edwyn Burder, a Director, asking to for a “personal interview”. It transpired that Mr. Kerfoot was very disgruntled over Mr. S. Bland being asked to help out for two days instead of him. As typical in these types of situations having made a point the matter appears to have blown over very quickly. It was normal practice to try and dovetail the show in with other work in the area, so as to minimise disruption, reduce travel time, etc. In this instance as soon as the exhibits were dispatched Wightman went straight on, the same day, to start work at Streatham Babies Hospital[7], at No. 9, Leigham Court Road, Streatham where he began erecting a Sun Room & Porch. Partridge appears to have returned home to Loughborough on one of the Lorries returning the exhibits, before going down to Streatham on the following Monday to join Wightman.

 

1931 – Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show (Chelsea)

Despite their years of experience, they were always looking for ways of improving the display; this year was no exception, one of the Loughborough-base management team[8] who was on-site suggested that the large greenhouse would benefit from a couple of turned wood finials and cresting. The issue with trying to make such last minutes changes was that these items had not been costed into the show price of the greenhouse. Thus being ever cost conscious the suggestion was not implemented.

 

 

References:

  1. Priced at 11d. per sq ft.
  2. Now an exclusive hotel.
  3. The fitter then went off the work on a job at Mr. C. Death’s, of The Grove, Monkton Hadley installing a ¾ span range and lean-to conservatory.
  4. With accompanying receipts.
  5. Purchased from A.J. Bull, 62&64 Draycott Avenue, Chelsea.
  6. Terebine is a liquid oil paint dryer used many years ago when painters and decorators mixed their own paint on the job. It is now added to a gilp mixture (one part raw linseed oil to two parts turpentine or white spirit) when creating marble, wood grain and many broken colour effects.
  7. Streatham Babies Hospital provided care for malnourished and delicate babies and children up to 5 years of age who had been referred from various Infant Welfare Centres in the Borough of Wandsworth. In 1947 the South London Hospital for Women acquired the property and eventually passed to the Home Office in 1969. In 1987 the original building was demolished and replaced by a 4-storey apartment block, providing sheltered housing for retired Jewish residents. At the same time the South London Synagogue was built at the rear of the new apartment block.
  8. Probably one of the directors.