The first Highbridge Chrysanthemum Show was held in 1936, when a Society was formed to promote an interest in the growing of chrysanthemums. This brought back an earlier interest in flower growing after the demise of the Highbridge Flower Show. Support for the show was encouraging and once it had settled into the Town Hall, the annual event became very popular with the local community. As the show grew in size and status over the following years it became an event where old friends would meet and enjoy the displays. Held in November, it included many classes apart from those for chrysanthemums, there were vegetable, fruit, honey, and handicraft and pigeon classes. A children’s’ handicraft section was also encouraged and in 1940 a special class for evacuee children was included as part of the show.
It is interesting to note that for many years the railway workers, who enjoyed the rivalry to win the “Best of the Day” award, supported the show; this rivalry carried the show forward and brought in many successful changes to the shows’ programme. Over the years there were further changes, the pigeon classes disappeared in 1956 but a growing interest in floral art was discovered and this section was enlarged to encourage more exhibitors.
In the 1980’s the biggest change for the Society took place with the demise of the Town Hall; in 1984 the show moved to King Alfred School on the Burnham Road. Once established there, the Society introduced several new classes to the show including wine, photography and painting.
Some sixteen successful years followed but gradually the number of chrysanthemum growers declined. Efforts to encourage new members met with little success and with no new blood coming into the Society it was felt that an annual show could no longer be sustained.
This was not just a local problem. The National Society reported that it was countrywide. So the last show was held in 2001, after sixty-five years the Society was dissolved, it was a difficult decision by the current Membership especially after all the years of hard work put in by predecessors. The Society disappearing ended the long association with the town and the community. There are surely many grandparents, parents and children who have enjoyed many happy memories of the show.