The Horticultural Society is one of the most active and well-supported of the many institutions that enrich Barwick life. It has a membership of 210 and rising, and is financially sound. Its monthly programme includes speakers' meetings, visits to gardens, shows and nurseries, and two annual shows.
There was an earlier society during World War 2 as part of the ' Dig for Victory' campaign but it was disbanded. The present society in its early years had an uncertain existence. It was founded on Monday, 2 November 1964 when 14 people from the neighbourhood met at the Welfare Institute and proposed to form the society. They agreed on the name and elected the following officers:- President: Mr Edward Horner, Chairman - Mr Fred Scargill, Secretary - Mr Derek Burks, and Treasurer - Miss Dorothy M Eades. Five other members were elected to a committee, which had powers to co-opt. Annual subscriptions were fixed at 2s.6d. per member. The minutes of the early general and committee meetings are preserved in a number of handwritten exercise books.
Edward Horner was a successful pig farmer of Potterton Hall and was president of the Barwick Flower Club at this time. (See 'The Barwicker' Nos. 43 and 49). He had extensive greenhouses at the Hall and was an expert orchid grower.
The committee met only three times in the first year. The future programme was discussed and suggestions were made, but rarely was there any report in the minutes of what actually happened in these early years. One scheme that did get underway was the bulk purchase of fertilisers from a wholesaler (initially ASD Dewsbury) and the subsequent sale at a discount to members. This increased the membership and income from subscription fees but it did not lead to a great growth in active membership. The fertiliser was stored initially at a building belonging to Mr Geoff Collett and sold over two weekends.
Mr M Balfour spoke on 15 December 1964 on 'Rose Growing', the first lecture given to the Society. The first Annual Show was planned for Autumn 1965 and a schedule was drawn up. Much of the detailed planning was left to the secretary and is not recorded. Suggestions for visits were made. By August attendance at committee meetings dropped to five. The future of the infant society looked uncertain at that time. However, the first show was held on 4 September 1965, although there are no details in the minutes. Fortunately, the Skyrack Express of 10 September contains a full account of
the show, describing it as a 'sound success'. It was held at the Welfare Institute and attracted 130 entries in 43 classes, as well as a large number of visitors. It was opened by the president, Mr Edward Horner and he introduced Mr and Mrs William Brett who had presented a trophy to the society (later called 'The Brett Cup') to be won by the member gaining the most points. That year the winner was the chairman, Mr Scargill.
The classes were:
Open - Flowers (3 classes),
Open - Vegetables (3),
Members -Flowers (13),
Members - Vegetables (16),
Flower Arrangements (2),
Women's Section (3)
Children's Classes (2)
. The judges, who were from near-by villages, commended the entrants on the quality of the exhibits.
The annual general meeting, held 23 March 1966 and attended by 23 members, could point to some success. The secretary reported that three "interesting lectures" had been held and the scheme for the bulk purchase of fertiliser had gone well. This had helped to produce an increased membership of over 70. The first show "was considered a great success by all concerned". The treasurer reported that the society's general balance was about £16 and the show's profit £2.13s.0d. The officers and committee were re-elected apart from the chairman where Mr Atkinson replaced Mr Scargill. It was agreed that the number of committee members should be increased from five to eight. Mr Brett was elected the society's first vice-president.
For the next half year, the committee met every month in the home of one of the members. The sale of fertiliser continued, the supplier being changed to Triers of Seacroft. The society's first visit was to Harlow Carr Gardens on 19 June. The second annual show was planned for September. The question of the flower classes was discussed with Mrs Thompson, the vice-chairman of the Barwick Flower Club. A provisional schedule was drawn up and printed. Firms were approached on the subject of prizes and advertising.
The Show was held on the 3 September 1966 but no details are given in the minutes of the September committee meeting. In a full report in the Skyrack Express, we find that it was held at Barwick School and there was a total of 197 entries in the 53 classes, an increase on both counts on the 1965 show. Two wine classes were included for the first time. The show was opened by the president Mr Horner. Mr Scargill again won the Brett Cup and a photograph in the newspaper shows him receiving the trophy with the society officials looking on.
The AGM was planned for 14 November. However, neither this nor any committee meetings were held during the next half year and it is clear that the society was in danger of breaking up. However another committee meeting was held in March 1967 when it was reported that Mrs Butcher, the rector's wife, had donated a cup which originally belonged to the Barwick Allotments Association and had been given to her by the late Mrs Williams. The only condition was that it was to be returned to the rector if the society ceased to function. This became known as 'The Williams Cup'.
No further committee meetings were held until August 1967, when the president, Mr Horner, said he had called the meeting because of "lack of activity and requests from members". The Society was clearly facing a crisis. The programme for the society was discussed. It was agreed that the accounts should be audited.
The Annual General Meeting was held on 17 August 1967. Only 11 members attended. The president thanked the officials "for the running of the society and bringing this meeting for the continuance of the society after such a lapse". Mr Atkinson and Mr Burks retired as chairman and secretary to be replaced by Mr Joseph Henry Sutcliffe and Mr Donald F Wormald respectively. The latter later formed a gardening club at Barwick School, where he taught children about the care of plants and the use of the greenhouse. His activities were much appreciated by Mr CG (Charlie) Naylor, the headmaster.
The committee had clearly learned the lesson from its previous inactivity and for the rest of 1967 and the whole of 1968 it met monthly in the Welfare Institute. The Society opened an account at the Midland Bank, Seacroft. A full programme was arranged with monthly lectures during the winter months including, as the highlight, a film show by the president. He made his projector available for other meetings of the Society. The committee was very keen to publicise these events and details of activities were circulated through the publications of the Barwick churches, handbills and sometimes advertisements in the local press.
A sub-committee was established to draw up a set of rules for the society and these were considered and modified at several committee meetings. The bulk buying of fertiliser was continued, purchases being made from Messrs. Woodheads. The scheme increased membership which rose from about 50 to more than 100 during the year. A 'hearty welcome' was extended by the committee to anyone interested in horticulture, especially to any from Scholes, whose own society had closed down. Did the chairman have his eye on falling standards when he opened the July committee meeting with "a short homily on the virtues of punctuality".
Outings during the summer were made by coach to Red Hall, Temple Newsam, Nostell Priory, Harlow Carr and Harewood House. A successful bring-and-buy plant sale was organised in April 1968 and a small sub-committee was formed to organise similar events in the future. Mr LG Knight, director of Leeds City Parks, agreed to become a vice-president of the society.
Horticultural Society Officials at the Annual Show at the School in 1970 Left to right Mrs Helen Lawson, Don Wormald, Joe Sutcliffe, Bob Redman
An approach was made to the parish council concerning a proposed scheme for 'Beautifying the Village' but little progress seems to have been made during the year.
A sub-committee of four was set up to carry out the detailed planning of the annual show to be held at Barwick School. It was reported that "The minutes of the show sub-committee meetings, including their reports and suggestions in detail, are being entered into a separate minute book, maintained by the show secretary. Maintained as a separate and complete entity in this way, they should prove of great value for reference purposes in future years." These are worthy sentiments and the minute book would no doubt have been of great value in writing this article but Alas! it does not appear to have survived.
Mr Horner provided a trophy for the show which was named the 'President's Vase' and this would be for amateur members only. It was agreed that all trophies should be engraved with the winners' names at the expense of the society.
The 3rd Annual Show was held on 24 August 1968. Schedules were drawn up, printed and distributed to all members. A duplicator had been purchased and, using stencils, it printed handbills, etc. to publicise the show. One of the schedules is preserved in the Society's archives. It lists the officials and members of the society committee and show committee. The five judges, from outside Barwick, are named. 14 rules for the show and six for the wine classes are included. Mr Horner wrote an exuberant foreword for the schedule.
Details of the show were reported in full in the Skyrack Express of 30 August. An idea of the expansion and popularity of the show is seen by the 362 entries in 60 classes, in a well-attended event. There were 65 exhibitors of whom 61 won prizes. There were six classes in a new 'novices' section, a novice being described as "a person never before having won a prize". Five 'Cookery' classes replaced the women's section classes.
The Brett Cup, awarded to the entrant with the highest number of points in the three members' sections, was again won by Mr Scargill. The Williams Cup, awarded for the best exhibit in these three sections, was won by Mrs E Perry. The Presidents' Vase for the best rose exhibit submitted by an amateur, was won by Mr KW Jenkins. 17 other prizes were awarded, all provided by sponsoring firms.
Mr Naylor, the Headmaster of Barwick School, who had contributed much to the success of the show, accepted the society's invitation to be a vice president. Thanks were expressed to the four ladies who ran the café‚ so successfully - an experimental feature that 'caught on'.
At the annual general meeting on 4 November 1968, the improvement in the fortunes of the Society could be assessed. The chairman reported that since the last AGM "attempts to put the Society on a firm foundation, both financially and otherwise, had been 'quite' successful" - surely a considerable understatement. Membership was over 100 with between 40 and 60 members attending the meetings. The society had a balance of over £86. The annual show had been 'a great success'. The president proposed thanks to the chairman, Mr Sutcliffe on behalf of the Society for 'the wonderful job' he had done as show secretary.
The rules of the society were accepted after a few amendments. The annual subscriptions were increased to 5s.0d per member and 7s.6d double membership. The officers were re-elected and, in addition, Mr Robert E Redman was appointed assistant secretary. Messrs George W Stevenson and Jim Hannam were appointed auditors, positions they occupied for many years The scheme for 'The Beautifying of Barwick' was still under consideration.
For the next year, the committee met every month at the school. The programme was planned carefully and the events were well supported. As a result, eight general meetings were held during the year, including a film show, a spring bulb show and a bring and buy plant sale. Meetings were well attended and 82 people were present at one of the lectures. Six outings were also arranged, including long trips to Gambles Nurseries at Longford, the High Peak Nurseries and Chatsworth House, and Southport Show.
Printed membership cards were introduced and the rules of the society distributed to members. A typewriter was purchased for the use of the society. The fertiliser scheme continued successfully, the society making a gross profit of £40.
After some delay, progress was made in the 'Scheme for Beautifying Barwick'. Barwick council wished to vest the authority for the scheme with the society, but the members were of the opinion that responsibility should be shared with the council, who gave œ25 for the purchase of plants and shrubs for planting in Main Street and other individuals donated money. The rector, Rev. Norman Butcher, gave his consent for shrubs to be grown adjacent to the rectory entrance, with some fastened to the wall. The shrubs were planted by the end of 1969.
A gardens' competition between members was suggested but it was not held because of the small number of entrants. Mr Horner provided a bulb bowl as a prize at the spring bulb show in February, which was not well supported, but the bring-and-buy plant sale in April was a great success with 90 members attending. A 'Gardeners' Question Time' meeting was held in October with a panel of guests on a specially raised platform but sadly, in a minute book usually full of detail, no mention is made of its success or otherwise. The society applied for consideration for the 'BBC Gardeners Question Time' but with no success.
Mr Scargill supplied a cup for a prize at the annual show. It's origins are not stated but it needed professional renovation and was later named 'The Scargill Cup'. The committee agreed that a wooden plaque, with a maypole symbol, be made as a trophy and named 'The Elmete Shield'.
The annual show took place on 6 September 1969 at Barwick School. In the 61 classes there were 406 exhibits submitted by 96 entrants, all increases on the previous year. Mr Naylor, a vice-president, opened the show and presented the trophies. Mr E Evison was the show manager. Trophy winners were; the Brett Cup, for most points in the members sections - Mr Horace George Ward; the Williams Cup for the best exhibit in members vegetable section - Mr R Lambert, and the President's Vase for the best exhibit in members classes for roses - Miss R Bower. The new trophy, 'The Elmete Shield', for most points in the members flower classes, was won by Mr E Thompson. The Scargill Cup was not available in time for the show.
At the annual general meeting of November 1969, it was reported that the membership had reached the splendid total of 218, which was considered to be the limit of society's potential. There was a cash balance of £123. During the year, there were 13 committee meetings, 8 general meetings, 6 outings and an annual show - a busy and successful 12 months.
The president, Mr Horner, announced his forthcoming retirement to Ireland but as there were no proposals for his replacement the vacancy was held over. The other officers were re-elected viz. chairman - Mr Sutcliffe; secretary - Mr Wormald; assistant secretary - Mr Redman, and treasurer - Miss Eades.
After five years of existence and one or two periods of instability, the Barwick-in-Elmet Horticultural Society had established itself as an institution which provided interest and enjoyment for many people in the area. Its activities had expanded in number and variety, and the officials and committee could look back with some pride on half a decade of endeavour and success.