The first Southport Flower Show was held in Victoria Park in 1924. It was organised and funded by the local Council and, with the exception of five years during World War 2, was held annually until 1986.
After the 1986 show, Sefton Council made the bombshell decision to withdraw funding and threw the future of the event into doubt.
But Southport people have always shown an extraordinary passion for and love of gardens and horticulture and were not prepared to lose their famous show. In true British spirit, a committee of local horticulturalists and business men was formed to negotiate with the council over the future of the Southport Flower Show.
Tensions on both sides were running high when they met in December 1986 but the mood was lifted after a symbolic gesture by Carl McClure, the leader of the local committee. When he entered the meeting with Sefton Council’s Resources Committee he placed a single orchid on the top table.
This poignant act pervaded the meeting and resulted in a deal being struck. The council agreed it would work in partnership with the local committee in organising one more show, in 1987, but would not underwrite any financial liabilities the show might incur. After that, the Southport Flower Show would have to stand on its own without any support from the public purse.
Thirty years on, the Southport Flower Show is the UK's biggest independent flower show and our gratitude is extended to the individuals involved back in 1987 for their commitment.
To formalise the agreement made between Sefton Council and the local committee, Southport Flower Show Ltd was created, a private company limited by guarantee (Companies House Registration no. 02103365) which then gained charitable status (Charity Registration no. 1000698).
This means that our Board of Trustee / Directors are volunteers and do not receive any payment from the company for their governance.
Southport Flower Show Ltd owns a trading company, Victoria Park Management Company (Southport) Ltd (Companies House Registration no. 03016129) the purpose of which is to manage, maintain and improve Victoria Park.
Both companies are VAT registered.
Sefton Council lease Victoria Park to Southport Flower Show for a peppercorn rent, a bouquet of flowers, (see above). Sefton Council do not assist or provide any public funds to Southport Flower Show or its trading company and nor does anybody else.
We are a completely independent private company and the biggest independent flower show in the country.
Organise and fund the annual Southport Flower Show
The Board of Trustee / Directors employ a small, year-round, part-time workforce to co-ordinate and sell the Show. We endeavour to make every Show different from the last by having a theme to inspire our competitors and exhibitors. All profits made are used to achieve our objectives. During the Show, our numbers are increased by many volunteers to whom we extend our sincere thanks.
Manage and maintain Victoria Park for the public benefit A 34 acre park is a large piece of land to maintain. We raise funds to do this by renting the park out to third parties wishing to hold an event. There is a limit on how many days we close the park for events and aim to keep the park open to the public for nine months of the year. A minimum of two Groundsmen are employed to keep the park clean and tidy.
No expense is spared in making the Flower Show an absolute floral extravaganza.
We promote the benefits of horticulture, not only for the pleasure of creating a beautiful plant but also to improve personal health and wellbeing.
Educate and inspire the young to enjoy Horticulture Children up to the age of 16 get free admission to Southport Flower Show.
For the last 3 years, we have employed an apprentice in the Park for one year and supported them in obtaining a qualification in Horticulture with Myerscough College.
For many years, we have worked with schools in the area offering a ‘create a garden’ competition and we build the winning garden at the Show. We have distributed pallets to schools for the children to build gardens in and these are entered into a competition at the Show. We have sent out several thousand sunflower seeds to schools for our ‘tallest sunflower’ competition.
It is now 30 years since Sefton Council handed over Victoria Park and the Southport Flower Show to us. They were right to stop funding it, we’re all interested in what our Council Tax money is being spent on; and the Show still sometimes results in a financial loss, often due to external factors outside of our control.
It is 92 years since the first Southport Flower Show. It was the early 20th century, between two world wars and we’re now living in the early 21st century. We embrace the traditional ethos of the Show and continue to invest heavily in our Show Gardens, Grand Floral Marquee, Contemporary Floral Art Marquee and Amateur Competitions.
We are also very aware of the need to appeal to a 21st century audience and to remain commercially viable.
We provide a feel-good family and friends day out. In addition to the vision and scent of exquisite and colourful floral displays, we offer varied alternative entertainment, food and drink, shopping and live music. Last year we introduced an interactive marquee where gardens could be built on Minecraft and hosted by You Tube Minecraft experts which proved hugely popular.
This year we have a pop-up retail village incorporating brands such as Kuoni, Aga, Sheridan, Toyota, Lexus and the Co-op with exhibitors selling everything from plants and garden products to clothing and accessories and home and cook ware to luxury holidays and cars.
The Food Festival showcases over thirty national and regional producers whilst the Cookery Theatre encompasses some of the best local chefs, supported by a variety of celebrity chefs.
We believe we are as good as any other UK flower show and even better with our good quality sea air to breathe. Our theme for 2017 is the Curious Garden. We hope you are curious enough to check us out.