The Postwar Period 1948-69

Although the Second World War ended in 1945 there were obviously many important matters requiring attention and so it is understandable that moves to resuscitate the Society did not start until late 1948.  Very few of the 1939 Committee were available in 1948, although the records of Curbar Church suggest that only one – Mr Colin Pybus, never returned from the war.  However, 17 people attended the ‘revival’ meeting held in Froggatt Chapel when new officers were elected, tow of whom – Mr John Morton and Mr Albert Carnall were founder members in 1935.  The prime mover behind the revival was Mr T. Chislett who became Secretary for the next 8 years.  He also organised a number of fund raising activities.

A committee was elected, together with a President and 7 Vice-Presidents.  The records indicate that in 1949 this small village could claim having two members who were Fellows of the Royal Horticultural Society.

The original rules were retained and the show was arranged for 27th August 1949.  However, a new site for the show had to be found because “Coppice Close” had been built on the field at Froggatt Bar.  So started the long association with the Warren family who had farmed for very many years at Knouchley Farm.  They were tenants of the field adjacent to Stoke Hall which at the time was owned by Mr Viner, a well known Sheffield cutlery manufacturer.  They both agreed to the Society holding the show on the field subject to certain conditions – one of which was that dogs would not be allowed.

Fund raising activities were resumed and enthusiasm must have been quite infectious because numerous offers of special prizes were forthcoming – garden implements, loads of manure, Saving Certificates, a year’s subscription to a gardening magazine to name but a few.  Mudfords were still able to provide the tentage in (3 in all), prize money was increased and the posters that were printed for the 1949 show referred to “Prize money, Silver Trophies and other prizes to the total value of £150.”  Fortunately most of the judges who had attended previously in the flower and vegetable section were still available.  As a result of a lot of hard work over a short period of time, backed up by adverts in the local press the 1949 show proved highly successful with over 600 people paying for admission.

Everything was set fair for the future – in 1950 the Strachey-Hawden Cup was presented to the winner of the class for 6 roses and the Wellwood Ferguson Cup was given by the President for the best vase of sweet peas grown by a local resident.  Bronze medals and diplomas were offered by Amateur Gardening and Womans Own (for cookery) and side shows, together with children’s sporting activities, became a feature.  Lectures and film shows were arranged and the annual dinner was revived, with entertainment from “a humourist, pianist, vocalist, conjuror and films” all on the same evening!  The 1950 show was another success with entries p by over 100 and despite the bad weather the show still made profit.  Mr Hattersley, the original Secretary, now a vice-president, had moved to Sheffield – he gave an interesting lecture with film on bee-keeping.  In 1950 the total number of members and patrons was 183, more than in 1938, and this level was maintained for quite a number of years.

In 1951 the auction of unwanted exhibits at the end of the show was started and this has continued ever since; Mr Jack Weaving conducted the auction each year until 1987 when Mr Michael Hibbs continued the tradition with great success.

The financial fortunes of the Society fluctuated between a small profit or loss but these were not of major concern despite some years of variable weather.  In 1925 the show was reported as being “the best in the district” following a period of glorious sunshine.  In 1953, however the weather was bed and the following year the show was cancelled due to poor weather which had greatly affected the quality of intended exhibits!

Commenting on the 1955 show Mr Donald Tyzack, a vice president apologised for not being at the show and for winning so many cups and prizes.  His suggestion that he should not have entered so many items was rejected by the Committee who wished it be known that the Society’s aim was to maximise the entries and so produce a better show!

However there were signs that all was not well – the children’s sports had been abandoned in 1952 and in 1957 a suggestion to incorporate a gymkhana into the show was rejected.  Nevertheless people were still clamouring for more attractions.  The level of entries fluctuated, as above, mainly due to the weather.  1958 was described as “a dreadful year” only to be followed in 1959 by one of the driest on record!

To boost interest moves were started to introduce other features – trade stands with dahlias and roses – but the exhibitors could not always be relied upon.  Despite entries in 1960 rising to 513 the dinner was cancelled through lack of support.  It was revived in 1963 in the form of a supper at Calver Village Hall when the Ecclesall Male Voice Choir provided the entertainment.  To expand interest floral art classes were introduced in 1964.  Because costs for staging the show were mounting, a raffle was held on show day and as the great British public have always enjoyed “a flutter” it has continued each year as a popular feature.

Pony classes were eventually introduced in 1966 which led to the two Smeeton Cups being presented.  These were followed by the Hand Trophy in 1968.

There had been various adjustments to the schedules over the years, expanding some sections like domestic and introducing a class on photography.  Other classes which had poor support were withdrawn.  So it was that in 1969 the total number of classes reached 101 (in 1938 it was 83.)

Total entries in this period fluctuated from a high of 513 in 1960 to a low of 312 in 1966 – “the lowest for 10 years.”  One of the main reasons for these fluctuations was that insufficient attention had been paid to the dates of other shows in the locality.  It was hoped in this respect that with improved liaison and co-operation future shows would prove not only financially successful, but would generate greater and more consistent support.

From “Froggatt and Froggatt Horticultural Society 1935 – 1994”, compiled by John E. Agg and Tom Gorst 1994