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    In 1972 an article appeared in the Society bulletin stating that the committee would like to extend their activities to new areas.  Show schedules were requested together with offers of local assistance.  I forwarded a Southsea Show schedule and agreed to help.  Back came the names of the only three other local members (all of them now unfortunately dead) and an invitation to assist the Society stage a display at the 1973 Show. Initially the four of us thought we would be merely assisting and growing some of the plants, but as the Show date neared it was apparent that it would be down to us.  And so the seeds were sown for what was to become a big part in my, and several others, lives in the years to come.   
   Really we were thrown in at the deep end, or so it seemed at the time.  Luckily one of us, "Pop" Hilton was an excellent grower and an experienced exhibitor.  He and his wife Doris had been displaying groups of plants including begonias at local shows for some years and it was their expertise that set us on the road.
   As our local membership grew and with the support of the National committee we progressed, and introduced our first classes in 1975 - 3 pot, 1 pot, and 3 cut-blooms. By 1984 our stand had become recognised as the largest massed display of begonias at any Show in the country, and the classes were attracting exhibitors from further afield, by now we had twelve classes and these had been divided into Open, Intermediate and Novice.
   Our displays incorporated a charity pond and over the years this generated thousands of pounds for local charities. Each year the stand varied in some way,  the 1997 display  was steeply banked as in the previous three years, it was however to  be be the last big massed display. We had lost two or three key contributors and could no longer muster the 140 or so plants needed to fill the 20' of staging. To counteract this we tried to add more artistic effect, mainly in the form of a garden.   The competitive classes, now totalling 20 continued to thrive.
    Although at the time of the Show we did not realise it, 2004 was to be our last year at Southsea.  Ever increasing costs, falling local membership and other problems forced a rethink and we decided that after 32 years it was time for a change. We would take the bold decision to hold our own Show at Portchester.  

Parts of this text are taken from The Editor's Page & South Coast Area 

SH SW 1973 stand Lg.jpg (20469 bytes)
1973.
 Our first display, a modest 9' x 6'

SH_74_stand_is_Lg.jpg (21691 bytes)
1974.
the stand had grown to 12' x 10'


1977
 


1978


1978
Editor & Dave Coates


1980


1982
10th. year group

SH 1984 stand Lg.jpg (27218 bytes)
1984


1989


1990


1993
21st. Year


1994
 


1995


1996


1997


1998

SH_1988_3pot_classes_Lg.jpg (35267 bytes)
1998
3 Pot Area Championship


2000


2001

PSS2_02 stand_Lg.jpg (38938 bytes)
2002


2002


2003


2003


2003


2004


2004


2004


Brian Simmons
Show Secretary 1973 - 1988


The late Vernon Upfield
Show Secretary 1989 - 2003


Dave Coates
Show Secretary from 2004

   The Southsea Show was held adjacent to the seafront on Southsea Common over three days on the first weekend in August. The Show incorporated all the usual summer show activities and at its peak attracted over 80,000. The many arena events continued throughout the day and each evening finished with marching bands beating the retreat. On Saturday evenings after the Show had closed steam rollers and showmans engines would parade along the promenade their whistles blowing.
   Our Society activities took up one entire end of the giant floral marquee, outside a members caravan acted as the focus for our picnics and barbeques. On Saturdays we held a  social evening in the marquee or outside, everyone contributing something to the fare.
   Although it involved a great deal of work, far more than a show in a hall, it gave us a great sense of satisfaction and achievement.  At our peak it took two and a half days to put up using two transit vans. I found by experience that it was essential to visit the marquee several days early while the contractors were still on site. On the second year we arrived early Thursday morning to find no staging had been supplied (our stand was much smaller then, and we had no classes).   Breakdown had to be achieved in a few hours and in the marquee it was absolute chaos with hundreds after last minute bargains. Often it was midnight before the last prop had been stored away and the last begonia back in the greenhouse, the biggest problem was traffic congestion.
   It is all but a memory now and indeed even the Southsea Show has folded, but we had great times, made many friends and can look back on a job well done.   

Pictures & text by the Editor

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