Show History

Hurst Horticultural Show

Royal Scots Greys

The Royal Scots Greys performing at Highland Games. Photograph courtesy of the warhorsefoundation.com.

First Show in 1902

If not for the war years then the Hurst Horticultural & Cottage Garden Society would be celebrating its 114th Show on August 20th 2016. The missing years were during the first and second World Wars when events to help the war effort were held instead. These were referred to as the "Dig for Victory" shows.

The Society was founded in 1902 in Hurst Girls School under the patronage of Mr P H Martineau who lived in Hurst Lodge. He was elected President, and among the five vice-Presidents elected was Rev E Broome, then vicar of Hurst.

The first show was held on Wednesday July 30th 1902 in Mr Salter Chalker´s meadow. The 1903 and 1904 shows were held in the grounds of Hurst Lodge, and the fourth in 1905 at Haines Hill. The venue changed again in 1906 and 1907 to Hurst Grove.

1939 Poster

Old Show Poster

From 1928 the show was held on August Bank Holiday Monday at Hatch Gate Farm and billed as Berkshire´s Greatest Holiday Show and thousands of visitors came to Wrestling Tournaments and see mounted displays by the Royal Scots Greys, 8th Hussars and Bronco Riders.

In fact the Dale Martin Wrestling Tournament started in 1951, at a cost of £80, and matches continued to attract the crowds for 31 years until 1982.

From 1934 the Hurst based Pelham´s Dodgems Roundabouts and Fun Fair appeared at every show donating a percentage of their day´s takings which rose from £15 in their first year to £110 in 1984.

Signs of Decline

In 1982 signs of decline were creeping into the Show due to the retirement of some Committee Members and the rising cost of tent hire. So for the first time in 71 years the show did not take place in 1983. However it returned after a one-year break but made a loss of £2,138 leading to 1984 being the final Big Show.

Born Again

Fortunately a few members agreed to stay on the committee and voted to continue to organise a smaller show. Hurst Village Hall became the new home of a much scaled down event in 1985.

The original title of "Hurst Horticultural and Cottage Garden Society" was used for 63 years until 1965 when the committee voted for a shortened version and dropped Cottage Garden from its name. However in 1992 members voted to revert to the full title.

Since 1985 the show has been regularly held on the last Saturday before August Bank Holiday at the Village Hall and continues to thrive. The schedule is reviewed to keep a pace with modern trends but also keep traditional classes alive.

The Show continues to appeal to exhibitors including gardeners, jam makers, cooks, artists, and photographers to this day. Also visitors still come in their hundreds to the afternoon events.