Yatton and District Horticultural Society History

Between the wars, the Yatton and District Flower Show and Gymkhana was one of the largest shows in the area.  After the war, on Monday 19th March 1951, a public meeting was held in Yatton Church Hall. Mr Harry Cole chaired the meeting in the presence of Mr T. R. Maitland of the Somerset Farm Institute, Cannington. The purpose of the meeting was to test public feeling as to whether a horticultural society should be set up for Yatton. There were 36 people present and numerous apologies from those offering further support.  It was unanimously agreed that a horticultural society should be re-formed in Yatton.

It is interesting to note that the title of the Society was the Yatton and District Horticultural Society from the beginning so that Claverham and Cleeve were also included. It is likely that this reflected the origins of the members of the original society.

In 1952 the society was affiliated to the Royal Horticultural Society. It is noted in the minutes that considerable help was received from the Somerset Farm Institute, now the Agricultural and Horticultural College at Cannington, not only with the inaugural meeting but also with future meetings when speakers were provided. At that time Yatton was in Somerset.

In 1953 it is recorded there were 140 members and that each member paid a shilling a year. By 1957 this had gone up to two shillings and by 1964 to two shillings and sixpence. In 1989, 320 households were members of the Society.

It seems the Society has always put on three shows per year, Spring, Summer and Autumn. An idea of the popularity of the shows can be gained from the information that in 1956 there were a record 1,008 entries and an eight pole marquee was required. In 1962 there were 128 entries in the spring show, 567 in the summer show and 214 in the autumn show. It is estimated the 1962 entries would have been equivalent of at least one entry per member in the spring and autumn and two or three entries per member in the summer show. Of course there would have been further entries in the open classes, but overall this implies a considerable degree of enthusiasm. Even allowing for the larger population of Yatton and district, the number of entries to the shows was not very much greater in 1989: 525 adult and 289 children.

In 1963 the Society had a moment, or rather half an hour, of glory when it featured in Gardeners’ Question Time in the Assembly Rooms at Yatton. This broadcast was relayed on Sunday, March 10th 1963, on the Home Service of the BBC.

This brief history is an extract from a more detailed document written by Marianne Pitman.