Although the sports and races have always been an important part of the Flower Show, in the very early days they were more important than the produce show itself – reflecting the Flower Show’s origins as a Sunday School celebration.
The earliest records we have date back to 1901, with a list of the different events.
We even know some of the participants, with many family names still being represented in today’s events.
The programmes over the years demonstrate the change of emphasis. In 1908, the programme not only listed all the races, but also the officials.
Not only were the individual events listed, but also the participants in many of them. The Flower Show warranted only a passing reference that it was taking place between 2 and 7 o’clock in the large tent.
Tea was a far more significant meal in in its own right in 1908, with the races clearly divided between those Before Tea and those After Tea.
1912 saw a Boot and Tub race for boys – if anyone knows what this is, please contact <firstname.lastname@example.org> to enlighten us!
There was little change in the style by 1914, with details of the participants in the various events still being included. The three-legged race held in 1901 was excluded in 1908, but had been reinstated by 1914.
By contrast, in 2022 the programme had a great deal of detail on the classes of entry for the Flower Show, now extended to include crafts and bakery, with just a fleeting reference to the races.
Return to The Lee Flower Show: A History